At last, warm weather has struck the rainy gray land of the Netherlands. It's that time of year. People flock to the parks and in this case, the sea. Even if the Dutchies don't admit it, this time of year is simply beautiful with temperatures in a fairly warm zone between 75 F or 20-25 celsius. At last, colors galore! I can finally see what the Netherlands really looks like; no more absence of color, no more black white and gray... the Netherlands has blue skies, lush shrubbery from all the rain, and flowers in bloom. The joke goes that, "a Dutchman has waited all his life for a summer, it still never came..." Or that there are two seasons in the Netherlands, "Rain and July."
Getting to Zandvoort was actually the fun part. After hearing multiple recommendations, I knew we didn't have many chances on a warm weekend to do this. Never spoil a warm weekend in the Netherlands. You don't know when it comes back. In any case, it was an auspicious weekend of more than 3 days in a row of golden sun. The idea struck me while we were in the Bos Amstelveen park. "Let's do the beach!"
So here's how we did it.
We did not bike all the way from Amsterdam. However, we did a little bike route starting in a nearby city called Haarlem. Not the Harlem in NYC, but the original Haarlem ;)
Taking the fiesten or in English, bikes", isn't as much of a challenge as we initially anticipated. First of all, you can take your bike on the metro and the train. For the metro, it's only about 2 euros for the whole day. Even more generous, the fee for taking the bikes on the train is only 6 euros, valid all day!
So make sure you position yourself on the end of the platform. There should be a bike stand inside the train as you embark. The only issue was the crowds, due to the fact that everyone had the same idea as us. Get outside, quick! Sun!
As soon as you disembark the train in Haarlem (about 20 mins from Amsterdam), head into the center of the city, and follow the signs for Grot Market or Kerk (great market or church). On your way, you'll pass small cafes, coffeeshops, and historic houses with the same 17th century style as Amsterdam. I apologize for the AWFUL quality of the videos. I really am not too familiar with video editing and I have iMovie on my mac, for what it's worth.
The journey from Haarlem takes you due West via the suburbs, which for me were impeccable. Without being too rude, we could catch a glimpse inside the homes where families adorned their windowsills with sail boats, art and pretty decor.
Once you exit the suburbs, you begin to traverse through a natural park, where the terrain transforms from deciduous trees to ground-level shrubbery, resembling like a desert or even Mediterranean plants.
The soil morphs into sand as we approach near the dunes. Imagine, just a thousand years ago or less this area was a shallow sea. Much of the Netherlands we see today was man-made. Inhabitants fighting the same enemy since the start- WATER. Oh, and sometimes Catholics :P
At this point, you're probably thinking, where are my beach pics, and why are there so many videos of you getting there and not actually being there?!
I guess it comes down to that cliche phrase, "live in the moment!"
It wasn't meant on purpose, but as soon as we arrived on the beach we plopped down on the sand. All we wanted was sun. Frankly, it was quite a windy day, Netherlands, you never give up do you? Was too windy to bear without a little beach tent windbreaker thing. We rented one for 5 euros. It was so windy that the sand was seeping through the bottom slit where the wind came through and sand hitting our faces. We had to build up a wet sand-like fort, surrounding the edges of the windbreaker thing. Seemed to work alright :)
Make sure you grab a typical plate of Dutch fries, mayo and fried fish like kibbeling (white fish), crab, salmon, etc. We noticed that was all they were eating. Sorry burger shacks, if you can't beat em', join em'
So I will conclude with a nice picture of our arrival to the beach.
And another silly video of me not speaking proper English and Marcio with his blue towel cape. What a hero :P
In any case, if you want to discover Zandvoort, I highly recommend. We'll be going back for sure. Until next time, cheers!