Cycling the Waterland Route in Amsterdam on 15Apr2014

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wife was keen with cycling in amsterdam so she did a bit of research.

the waterland cycling route looked quite exciting, covering about 51km return starting out from amsterdam, going along the dike by  kinselmeer to marken & back by holysloot & ransdorp. and we were even thinking of taking the ferry to volendam….there is a very good guide in holland-cycling (marken cycle route) here.

regrettably in the end we did not manage that.  the temperature was sub 10 degC & with windchill factor was colder than what we had planned for, and 1 of us repacked the bags & forgot & left out the gloves. we were quite ok though with the cold after cycling for a while, but the wind was too strong on the dike route (uitdammerdijk along kinselmeer) & it was substantial effort & slow progress & not really so fun for the 3 of us who were infrequent cyclist (like few times a year!). i knew i would get to enjoy this more in due course now that i finally got down to buying a dahon mu n360 foldable bike just before this trip. :-).

the cycling started quite well. we got our bikes from macbikes which was located on the eastern end of amsterdam central station, & the guy walked us through the double locks – one to lock the wheels, the other to chain the bicycle to a immovable object. 🙂 shortly we were on the bikes cycling to the ferry point to take the free ferry (for vehicles, bikes & passengers) to cross over to ij.

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amsterdam is very flat country and quite easy to cycle. there were mostly dedicated cycle paths so very safe. we were confused with the signs on several stretch of roads. they showed a mo-ped & a bike with a diagonal bar cutting across them. a no-bike sign?? some dutch guy stopped to give us some help. he explained that paths w/o the sign was for bikes only, and the sign only meant that the road was used by bikes & other vehicles (& not for bikes only). 🙂

he commented it was a cold day & though unspoken obviously kind of thought we were rather ambitious when we mentioned that we were planning to go to marken & volendam! …so he knew better. haha. 🙂

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the initial cold was manageable. but as we passed durgerdam & rode on to the dike on uitdammerdijk alongside kinselmeer, the wind was just too strong and the progress was so slow & of course it was very cold & over a very long stretch. it was very tiring and taking the fun out of a casual ride & enjoying the meadows & countryside. we decided to turn back on reaching 79 (see the holland-cycling marken cycle route map), and rode in the direction of holysloot to 78, and then towards 44, ransdorp.

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without the wind impeding our progress, the ride was very pleasant & enjoyable past meadows & farms & windmills. 🙂

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initially we thought of stopping at ij-kanteen for lunch (ij-kanteen is supposed to be a casual, modern, cheerful brasserie on a spacious ground previously a canteen for the shipyard…sounded hip & cool but not strictly a must for us..). but once we got back to the area, we wanted to have a quick bite so we stopped at a nice cosy cafe rather than to go looking for directions to ij-kanteen. guess we were just hungry. it was still cold outside so we chained our bikes to the railings and sat inside the cafe. we must be hungry as the burger tasted really good & the carrot coconut soup was super tasty. this soup was even better than the carrot soup at zazas & the movies restaurant (we must be real, really hungry! haha..), and perhaps not better but a different touch (more robust) c/w beulings. (i plan to do this at home after sourcing some internet recipes). 🙂

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we were back to ij jetty to catch the ferry to cross back to amsterdam central. we decided to take a quick look at the Eye. a huge cruise ship passed by. it was quite a sight 10 storeys high.

we took the ferry & returned the bikes to macbike. i estimated we cycled 25km or more & we took just over 3 hrs in total so we had to pay the 24hr hire rates. with 10% discount from holland pass, macbikes 24hr rental include insurance for 3pax was 48euros. hmmm.. very expensive!

c.h.e.f andy

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The Dazzling Keukenhof Gardens on 14Apr2014

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2 things wife wanted to do was to cycle in amsterdam & see the tulips at keukenhof gardens, hence the “detour” from the initial vacation plan of lake como & cinque terre. 🙂

we had the holland pass so we used the gold pass for entry to keukenhof gardens (cost 15euros). we used a silver pass for the bus return from schipol airport to keukenhof (cost 9euros). for the journey from amsterdam central to schipol we had to pay 4euros as it was not covered by the holland pass. if you do not have holland pass, you can get a combi ticket here including return from amsterdam central & entry to keukenhof for 28euros.

keukenhof is located in lisse and used to be the part of the the estate of teylingen castle.  games were hunted & food collected for the kitchens of the castle, hence keukenhof or kitchen courtyard in dutch. in 1857 the same architect who designed vondelpark, redesigned the castle gardens in english landscape style, the basis for keukenhof today. there is wifi throughout the gardens & you can download the map here.

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tulips galore! 🙂

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flowers were mostly in full bloom and it was a wonderful stroll through the garden. very pleasant indeed. 🙂

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floral art. 🙂

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sakuras. quite pretty these, but of course nothing could compare with seeing sakuras in kyoto or tokyo. 🙂

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there was an animal pen.

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fun time for the children, and adults too!

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such beauty! 🙂

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keukenhof was really beautiful. a very enjoyable day. we visited villa carlotta later when we visited tremezzo in lake como, and that was extremely beautiful too, and villa carlotta gardens was in a landscaped natural terrain setting, not garden plots, so it had added attraction. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Very Shiok! Bakchormee @ Ming Fa Upper Thomson on 4May2014

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ming fa bakchormee

went with wife & daughter to ming fa at upper thomson for bakchormee this afternoon on 4.5.2014. must say it as immensely fulfilling. haha. 🙂 such simple food & great satisfaction! guess i was also missing the jalan tea kong meepok tar at 6th avenue. having withdrawals. haha. 🙂

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ming fa bakchormee

the place was very well patronised at 3pm on a sunday afternoon. we could hardly find a table for 3.

the bakchormee was really good, the overall flavours & chilli, the qq noodles, minced pork, pork ball & sliced pork & liver. as good as the tai wah i remember (not been to tai wah for the longest time).

noodles was S$4 and ming fa now has expanded from a traditional stall in chinatown to 7 outlets with a manufacturing arm selling laksa and curry chicken etc. 🙂 saw on their website that there is an outlet at hollandv hawker centre etc. somehow did not notice. only tried the fei zai bakchormee stall, which was not too bad. will look out next time i am there. 🙂

very shook indeed!

c.h.e.f andy