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  1. #1
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Netherlands Questions

    It seems I will be travelling through Netherlands along the North Sea Route. I'll be flying in to Schiphol and taking the train to Den Helder. Do I actually have to go into Amsterdam to get to Den Helder? Any hints about biking in Netherlands, or taking bikes on trains?

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    That sounds like a great trip. Are you going with anyone who has more experience with European train systems? they are not difficult but I think they can be overwhelming. Here is a site that gives train schedules
    http://www.ns.nl/servlet/Satellite?c...lang=en&c=Page


    Also if you search for bicycle, the first link that pops up gives information about that.

    Good luck, it should be fantastic

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    Schipol is one of the friendlist airports I've ever flown into or out of. There is a train station in the airport that goes directly to Amsterdam Hbf - 20 minute ride into the city and even if you have to go to the Hbf to catch a regional train to Van Helder, it shouldn't be a problem. The Amsterdam main train station has more bikes parked in front of it than any station I think I've ever seen anywhere...hundreds and hundreds and hundreds...
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    Senior Member jakuma's Avatar
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    The central train station in Amsterdam has elevators to get to and from the platforms although when I was there last they were working on all the elevators at the same time so had to use the escalator--not fun. Why take the train at all? You could bike into the city. Anyway, I think you can reserve a spot for your bike on the train.

    Bike routes are well sign posted and should have no problem in navigation.

    Join Vrienden Op De Fiets, a list of B&Bs that cater to cyclists and is cheap and usually you get a bit of a cultural exchange. Most of the B&Bs on the list are in Holland but their are addresses in neighboring countries.

    Don't know how far you are going but in Denmark I would suggest Hostels as the seem to be the cheapest option. There is a very nice one in Ribe. If camping you will need to buy a card. I think it is illegal to camp wild in Denmark but you can do it in Norway and Sweden.
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    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    Airports in the Netherlands have cycle paths directly into the terminal.
    When cycling in the Netherlands do take care to follow a route with the wind. There is a constant wind and routes should be planned with this in mind.

  6. #6
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Okay,
    It seems I can go from Schiphol to Zaandam and transfer to Den Helder. At least Zaandam is in the right direction. Thanks.

    Now I'm looking for a cell phone. Can I buy a pay-as-you-go phone in Holland? How much will it cost?

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    Zaandam is worth a day's visit - the windmills operating along the river are some of the last left from the Dutch medieval period when there were nearly 1,000 operating to grind corn, process grains & other early industrial production. We visited there for a day a couple of years ago & enjoyed it a lot.

    As for cellphones, you can lease one & then you'll buy minutes to put onto the phone. Expensive but good to have. The other option is an international sat phone but that's expensive, too.

    To call back to North America, I bought a Go Bananas phone card at a local kiosk for 10 or 20 euros & used a land line. Punch in the code on the back of the card then the international number. You can get over 1000 minutes for 20 euros. I'm not sure the costs for calling the UK (are you there or in
    Canada?) but it shouldn't be much different.

    I gave up on the cellphone calls because the euros got eaten rapidly with international calls. And I paid for the minutes whether I called out or my family called me.
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  8. #8
    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jakuma
    The central train station in Amsterdam has elevators to get to and from the platforms although when I was there last they were working on all the elevators at the same time so had to use the escalator--not fun. Why take the train at all? You could bike into the city. Anyway, I think you can reserve a spot for your bike on the train.

    Bike routes are well sign posted and should have no problem in navigation.

    Join Vrienden Op De Fiets, a list of B&Bs that cater to cyclists and is cheap and usually you get a bit of a cultural exchange. Most of the B&Bs on the list are in Holland but their are addresses in neighboring countries.

    Don't know how far you are going but in Denmark I would suggest Hostels as the seem to be the cheapest option. There is a very nice one in Ribe. If camping you will need to buy a card. I think it is illegal to camp wild in Denmark but you can do it in Norway and Sweden.
    I want to emphasize that with respect to the elevators mentioned, do not assume that all train stations have them.

    I second the Vrienden Op De Fiets. I had good luck, for the most part. It's not always updated: last fall I learned that some people listed don't do it anymore but are still in the book, and, trying to reserve a minimum of 24 hours advance is difficult when you don't know where you will be the next day. Having a cheap phone option is useful.

    Enjoy! It's a great place to ride!
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    Okay,
    It seems I can go from Schiphol to Zaandam and transfer to Den Helder. At least Zaandam is in the right direction. Thanks.

    Now I'm looking for a cell phone. Can I buy a pay-as-you-go phone in Holland? How much will it cost?
    yep.

    cheap ones are around 60€ http://shop.telfort.nl/page/5/?iad=c...av.link.prepay

  10. #10
    Opo
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    We took the same route a couple of years ago and I can tell you itīs going to be great! We started directly from Schiphol airport and went straight through the city centrum sleeping the first night on a camping ground only about 10 minutes ride from the centrum. It was an unbeliavably easy ride. Should you decide to do so, riding through Vondel Park is a definite must! In case you go up north with a bike you need to take a ferry right behind the Amsterdam central train station (its a really short ferry ride, 5 min max).

    If you have an extra day once you get to Den Helder, a visit to Texel island is really worth the effort. Thereīs a ferry starting from Den Helder thatīll take you there with virtually no cost. Thereīs good quiet roads going through beautiful countryside and large camping grounds right along perfect beaches. On holiday season the sites were quite crownded though as its a popular vacation spot for the locals.

    Iīve got a great book describing the route quite carefully starting from the airport, but but it seems that Iīve stored it in too good a place... In case you want to know the name, just nod and Iīll give it a more thorough look.

    edit: Now that I think of it I seem to be bit off topic. My bad. Mistook your route for something quite completely different. Maybe I still leave this here just incase.
    Last edited by Opo; 04-11-07 at 11:39 AM.

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    Which book is that, Opo?

    Opo,

    I for one would be curious to know the name of that book, or any book for that matter, which is a good reference for cycling in the Netherlands. I've been meaning to find one.

    Thanks!

  12. #12
    Mutt Owner gizem310's Avatar
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    I just cycled through the Netherlands. What a beauty!
    It is sooo easy to cycle in The Netherlands (bike routes in every direction and flat as a pancake), I would just ride my bicycle if I were you. Doing a century a day in that country even with the loaded bicycles is a piece of cake.
    Btw, century is 100 km here )

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    cyclotourist
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    Cycling the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg by Katherine Widing and Jerry Widing

    I think its out of print. It has some good general information about the benelux countries and lots of detailed routes. The route descriptions are good because they have taken the time to find the best route to scenic places, although with changes in roadways and cycle paths some of them are out-dated.

    There are very detailed maps of cycle routes avaialable at VVV(tourist) and/or ANWB (Auto)offices. The problem is, that it would set you back thousands of euros to buy all the maps of the whole country, so you should have an idea of where you want to go before you start buying maps

  14. #14
    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    I have a book for the Netherlands by Katherine Widing (bought last year). It's got very specific trips outlined. Meaning, you have to follow the routes in the book, and most of the routes stop and end w/o connecting to another route.

    On the otherhand, you don't need to follow the routes in the book. There are long-distance bike routes that are signed, all over, and into Belgium, with maps that can tell you which route(s) to follow. Then, you simply follow the signs (for example 6a) to your destination. The long-distance signs are green print on a white background. It's a little different in Belgium, but, not difficult.

    Some basic realities of these signs:
    1. Signs are NOT where you might think they should be located, and don't occur as often as you (a stranger in the land) might want.

    2. Many times the sign you need is posted after you make a turn, not just before or at the turn. If you don't see a sign when you think you should turn, go around the corner and see if it's there. Also, signs have been found behind low-growing branches, etc., so, pay attention!

    3. Sometimes, when approaching a town, the green-on-white signs suddenly disappear. However, there are other signs (we had red on white signs with bike symbols) with names of destinationsand arrows pointing the direction....use those signs to get you to a city center, etc. We did this to get to Kirkendijk (spelling probably wrong...lots of windmills there, highly recommended), and, sure enough, once we were past the windmills, the green-on-white signs suddenly reappeared.
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  15. #15
    Opo
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    Skookum beat me to it, thatīs the book.

  16. #16
    cyclotourist
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    We did this to get to Kirkendijk (spelling probably wrong...lots of windmills there, highly recommended), and, sure enough, once we were past the windmills, the green-on-white signs suddenly reappeared.
    http://http://www.kinderdijk.nl/

    Kinderdijk is the place with the windmills and worth a visit, although the Widing book got me lost coming from Gouda and I had to ask for directions. There are gazillions of possible routes in the netherlands and the value of the Widing book is it links interesting places by non-obvious routes. If you just want to go from A to B, get a map and follow the signs.

    What Flower Blosssom said is certainly true.

    I found if there was a city in my path it was easier to follow the bike signs to "Centrum" find the train station and look for route signs to my destination than to try and skirt the city and get stuck in the suburbs.

  17. #17
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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  18. #18
    cyclotourist
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    Why do you think they have so many windmills? Many of the bike paths are on dikes or canal towpaths and the land is dead flat so you are right up there in the wind. At one point I found my average speed was 8km/hr.

    Of course if you can manage a tailwind it is an advanatge.

  19. #19
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    OK, I will mention wind.

    The last time I bicycled in Holland, I rented a heavy Dutch bike and ended up walking it. The culprit was the wind. The day was bright and clear, but the headwinds were very strong -- maybe 60 km/hour. Pedaling exhausted me -- and I am a fairly strong rider. Hey, even pushing the bicycle was hard!

    Next time I go biking in the Holland, I will bring my own granny-gear equipped bike.

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