If you come to Holland, you should bring my sister—not just because this would make me very happy, but because she has some kind of good-weather juju. She has visited twice, and both times we have had phenomenally pleasant weather amidst seasons of much rain and gloom.
So when she brought the sunshine back last week, we decided to do some biking. Specifically, we decided to bike from Delft to the dunes north of Scheveningen, via the Hague. Bike lanes and roads link virtually everywhere in the Netherlands, dotted with little signs featuring numbers in green circles: knoppunten. You can string together a route of these numbers to navigate your way. I have known this before, but not really done it successfully until last week, when I discovered the website Fietsen.123.
We planned a route that seemed plausibly follow-able, based largely on the fact that the first half of the ride to the beach could be done following a route I already knew. We would begin by biking to the edge of a big park called the Haagse Bos, which is just steps away from where our church meets on Sundays. In fact, we have picnicked with friends after church on the edge of this park.
So my sister and I successfully reached this point without getting lost, and I was pleased. Then we rode about one minute more, and I was flabbergasted. This park is beautiful. One minute off the road we stopped at a vista over a lovely lake on our left, and on our right? The residence of the Queen. I had no idea of this peaceful, gorgeous spot, just the tiniest bit farther than a place I have visited once a week for a year.
We paused here for quite some time, sitting on a bench watching lunchers and dog-walkers. We eventually continued on (only getting lost once or twice—occasionally those green markers are sly) and about two hours after leaving Delft, found ourself in Dutch beach traffic.
After a very late lunch, we decided we still had it in us to ride through the dunes themselves. The dunes along the North Sea here are massive—so much more expansive than anything I had seen in the US. Since it actually had some ups and downs, this part of our ride was tiring, but it was amazing. Round-trip, we biked some 30 miles that day, and we were beat.
Tim and I are preparing to depart soon on our summer holiday, and we’re fortunate to be traveling to some pretty cool places. But last week reminded me of something important. Maybe you can’t take an exotic vacation this summer; maybe you don’t have time off or cash to spare. But maybe there’s a great surprise that’s just a few steps farther than you normally go.