When small town boys visit the canal parade

When small town boys visit the canal parade they get hyperactive and super excited. Maybe it is the surrounding. The story about Vermeer and his secret marriage. All of a sudden they fall silent and look serious. Not for long though.

Windmill on Delft bike tour molen fietstocht Verita's Visit

Secret marriage in Delft countryside

We’ve just walked through the chapel and the group’s laughter and chitchats turn into a respectful awe. Now the three men sit opposite of me, hands supporting their heads, eyes looking straight at me. I tell them the story of protestant Vermeer and his marriage with the catholic Maria. Catholicism was forbidden in those days so they had to get married in secret in this village not far from Delft.

 

Back home in Dutch farmland

The handsome small town boys know how it feels to hide your true self and sigh. “North of New York is where I grew up, but it wasn’t like NY at all. Just farmlands. Nobody travels, everyone stays in their comfort zone.”, one says. He almost jumped up and down on the bike when we started the tour. Now he looks at the others and finds comfort in their expressions.

When Fields of Dreams meets the Big Apple

“Do you know the movie Fields of Dreams?, that’s where I’m from”. The guy who’s talking is quite the opposite of his friend. He took his time to take in the scenery while cycling. You can see he thinks before he speaks and right now he has a stern look on his face. A mix between melancholy and pride. He’s clearly goal driven: “When I was young I told my mother I wanted to live on Sesame Street. Now I live one block away from it”.   They moved from small countryside villages to the Big Apple. Dreaming of a good job, meeting like-minded people and being accepted for who they are. They succeeded and are proud of themselves. So they should be.

Delft countryside flower parade bike tour fietstocht natuur Varend corso Verita's Visit

Birthday celebration in and out of Amsterdam

These three beautiful men celebrate a birthday in Amsterdam. At their arrival they stumbled upon the first Pride parties. They’re all excited for this afternoon, when these small town boys visit the Canal Parade. An endless flow of questions runs through the air:

“Will the Canal Parade be like the one in New York , celebrated in different districts? Will it be as big?”

Juicy stories and good food in Vermeer's wedding town

They left big city Amsterdam and Pride to wonder through the countryside near Delft with me. Even if they would have liked to be at the Canal Parade the whole day, they don’t show it. Their attention is on me and that makes me feel real special. When one of them gets a flat tire, we’re all sad. I promise them beer and good local food. Their laughter and juicy stories can be heard from far away. Somehow, with some effort, we make it back to Vermeer’s wedding place. In my favorite restaurant we savor local delicacies and good beer. More stories, more questions follow. They miss their train back to Amsterdam. And the next one. And the next one. Then they decide to really make a move. Ready for Pride Amsterdam!

local food tasting gastronomy tour Delft gastronomische tour reis Verita's VisitWhen small town boys visit the canal parade

When the small town boys visit the Canal Parade, they make a trip in Delft to visit the farmlands. I’m happy they did.


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Windmill tour Keukenhof area

The flower and tulip fields make a great day trip to the Amsterdam flower strip in spring and summer. In these seasons and in the rest of the year there are plenty of other sights to visit as well. Today's traveltip: a windmill tour Keukenhof area.

 

Windmill tour Keukenhof area spring fall summer molen rondleiding Bollenstreek teambuilding Verita's VisitA new miller for Holland heritage

A new face. Robert stands tall next to the even taller windmill. The passionate Jan, who still lives in this amazing Dutch icon, steps out of his house. He'll give us the windmill tour Keukenhof area while Robert, the new miller, shows us how to handle the sails, the blades and the wheels of this historical monument.

Dutch icon in polder landscape

This windmill is beautifully located. On top of a dike, it looks out on the canal on one side. On the other the polders - the green meadows which lay much lower than the canal. In between the polders are ditches. This mill is called a polder drainage windmill. An enormous screw under the house pumps the water of the ditches in the canal. The obvious question: does Jan not hear the mechanism when it's operating?

Jan's answer: "You get used to it. The windmill's monotonous sound is actually quite calming"

Windmill flower region molen bezoek teambuilding Verita's Visit

Windmill tour Keukenhof area

The Golden Age comes to life when you see the blades of this 17th century typical Dutch icon turning. It's quite close by  the worldfamous tulip garden and participants often request a windmill tour Keukenhof area when they book the tulip field bike tour.

Windmill bike tour fietstocht Keukenhof omgeving area teambuilding Verita's Visit

It is also possible to organise a visit by bike or boat to this windmill in fall or winter. Or add it to the Holland beach and summer flower bike tour.

 


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Leiden cheese and dairy cycling route

Millions of visitors head to Gouda to taste the Holland cheese. That’s a shame, because in Leiden area you can find some real tasty farmer cheeses. Today we cycle the Leiden cheese and dairy route. It takes us to a family farm where they make cheese from cow ánd goat. In the Netherlands this is quite unique.

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The bike ride starts at Leiden Centraal train station where you can rent an OV- fiets, a regular bike or electric bike. Do you have small children? Unfortunately they do not rent out kids bikes or child seats at the train station. The nearest bike rental shop which rents out children’s bicycles is 3.5km away. I usually ask them to deliver them to the train station or ask my participants to come to the cycle rental shop.

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Leiden water & the Roman canal

Leiden has 28km of water ways. For me, one of the most impressive canals is the Rijn-Schiekanaal, which starts in Rotterdam and leads all the way to Leiden. Some say Roman general Corbulo dug a canal at exactly the same place in the 1st century AC.

Polder & café

Cycle towards this canal and cross it. You should now be in front of the Park Cronesteyn. This is a beautiful polder park, meaning it’s a piece of reclaimed land. The Leiden municipality has created different zones in which you can see the different essential elements of the park: water, marsh land and forest. Many walking- and cycling paths run through the park and you’ll see that they’ll all lead to my favorite bio local café in Leiden area: De Tuin van de Smid, a polderoasis.

After you’ve eaten the delicious home made apple pie, it’s hard to get back on the bicycle. Do try, because there’s so much more too see (and taste).

From dairy farm to church

familie fietstocht gids leiden kaas & lekkernijen
Polder path in Leiden countryside

Cross the big bridge over the A4 and head towards Zoeterwoude Dorp. From here you'll spot the Leiden cheese and dairy farms.  You could now follow the Noordbuurtse & Zuidbuurtseweg. It’s more fun though to take one of the cycle paths that run through the polders. You’ll cycle past small canals, between meadows full of grazing cows, horses and sheep. In the past, these paths were created for farmers to quickly get to church. They are also referred to as ‘kerkpaden’ (church paths).

One of these very small and challenging paths leads to a windmill. You’ll have a view on the Heineken brewery as well. You’re now in Weipoort. Weipoort is Leiden cheese heaven.

Butter and Leiden cheese

When Gouda made name as Cheese City, Leiden was known for the production of butter. Of the skimmed milk that was left after making butter, they made cheese. This is why the original Leiden cheese does not contain as much fat as Gouda cheese, but is a much lighter cheese ( 20+ fatt)

The taste of Leiden cheese is also much more subtle, which is why Leiden cheese farmers add herbs to create a richer taste.

melk fietstocht dairy & cheese tasting tour Leiden area omgeving
A glass of fresh milk
Farmers cheese in one hand, glass of milk in the other

Local Leiden cheese and dairy farm shops

On the Weipoortseweg you’ll find several Leiden cheese farmers. Most of them have started making full fat Gouda cheeses and in their local cheese shops sell both Leiden as well as Gouda cheese. At most of the farms you can also buy other dairy products and local products such as eggs or juices.

familie rondleiding kaasboerderij fietstocht Verita's Visit bike cheese farm guided tour family
Tour with the Leiden cheese maker

The Leiden family- run farm

Our last stop of today is located near the Zoetermeer lake Noord Aa. This is a complete family friendly farm where you can pet and feed goats, pigs, cows and other farm animal. They do guided tours and cheese making workshops as well. A great stop to have lunch or swap the bicycle for a canoe.

Leiden cheese tour Verita's Visit kaasboerderij uitje

Bye bye cow! A kiss to you!

 

 

To get back to Leiden, either take the Zuidbuurtseweg or go a bit more west and find the Rijn Schiekanaal.


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