Day 24 – Amsterdam

We booked a countryside bike tour through Mike’s Bikes Tours for €25. It was by far the cheapest tour I found online.
This was another tour where the group was large – we were split into 3 groups with different guides, who took each group separate ways through the city. Interestingly, in Amsterdam bikes have the right of way over other vehicles, who do actually give way to you! Riding a bike through the city can be a bit intimidating, with all the locals who ride very fast and obviously know where they’re going.
We rode through the city, with a couple stops for photos, for about 20 minutes, before heading out to the Dutch countryside. Our first stop was a windmill – one of the few remaining. This one is used as a house; the owners obviously live there and have to keep it maintained to certain specifications. 
Right next to the windmill was an area for school kids to learn about planting fruit and vegetables, and beekeeping. The Netherlands is focussing on the importance of growing your own food, which has inspired me to do the same back home.
After the photo stop, we biked another five minutes to a farm, where they produce cheese and make clogs. We got an explanation about the cheese making process, and more importantly, an opportunity to sample the different cheeses. Dutch cheese is delicious, and I was disappointed that I couldn’t buy it all and take it home with me, because of New Zealand’s strict policies about bringing food into the country. Unprocessed cheese is a big no-no. They did have one kind of processed cheese that was sealed and allowed through New Zealand and Australian customs, so we bought that one.
The farmer gave us a demonstration on clog making, and he was extremely entertaining, definitely the highlight of the day. The clogs are no longer hand made, but carved with different machines, one for the outside and one for the inside. They are still beautifully hand painted though and since the wood is treated you can bring them into New Zealand and Australia. I only bought a small blue painted one, since I didn’t have a lot of space in my suitcase. Remember, if you’re wanting to buy a pair that fit you, your shoe size is your foot length in centimetres.
The remainder of our ride was back to the city, through parks, including Vondelpark. We rode down dirt paths with the trees overhead arching together, giving the impression we were far from the city, in some idyllic scene right out of a book. I regret not stopping to take photos; it was just stunning.
In Vondelpark is a Picasso that appears to be permanently free from tagging, despite graffiti on many other objects. I wonder why? 
It was only another ten minutes back to the starting point, back through the busy city. Four hours and 25 kilometres was actually reasonably easy. The hardest part was going numb from sitting on the bike seat.
We did very little the rest of the day, other than getting Dutch pancakes from a place called The Carrousel. Bacon pancakes were a bit different from what I was expecting, it looked more like a pizza, but bacon goes well with everything.

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