"You can cycle to the coast from Amsterdam... It doesn't take long," Somebody told us last year. They were talking about getting yourself to Zandvoort a part-cute traditional seaside town, part-well-developed seaside resort on the North Sea, approximately 35 kilometres from the centre of Amsterdam.
No, it doesn't take long. But it did take a surprising amount of strength and stamina. Or at least it did for us.
The head winds we encountered almost from the outset whirled into a frenzy as we passed the flat fields surrounding Schiphol airport. Let's just say I'll remember them but not fondly.
Perhaps it was because we embarked on this "Away from Amsterdam" adventure on our second-hand no-gears, back-braking bikes that it was so hard. Or perhaps it's because we're relatively unfit.
Most likely both. But we arrived with wobbly legs and flailing senses of humour. Our reward for the effort was an angry, grey North Sea and a whipping wind that urged us to hide inside. So we did, with beer and bitterballen.
The weather did it's best to hide Zandvoort's charms but somewhere amidst the stark concrete seafront tower blocks there were bursts of character, like the European Sandsculpture festival being hosted there and the oh so brave kite surfers bouncing on the rolling waves.
Frances M. Thompson
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