The Way Is The Goal

Tag: nature (Page 1 of 3)

Hiking around Amsterdam

Hiking in and around Amsterdam has become one of my favourite outdoor activities for a couple of years now. Getting out of Amsterdam is easy, and there are great hiking trails and walking paths outside of the city to be discovered.

I have no car, which is an advantage in fact. I am actually able to get nicer routes. Especially since I do not have to walk in a large circle in order to return to the same parking eventually. I have found beautiful routes that are easily accessible by public transport, such as train and bus. With this post I would like to share my experiences and what I have discovered so far.

I recommend using the following resources and apps

  • OsmAnd app – See the screenshot above. This is by far the best app for following trails. You can load existing trails by selecting the walking map (make sure you have the walking icon on the top left), click on configure the map, and at the bottom you select the menu option routes. Here you select your favourite Hiking symbol overlay option and you are all set to discover all sorts of routes. As an addition, you can also upload GPS files when using the routeplanner.

  • The OVinfo app. It shows you the bus station and train stations that are the closest by. It also has a map function. Great for if you’re done with walking and need to get the closest bus-station.

  • This is the number 1 website for walking routes and paths in the Netherlands. Check this map for available routes in and around Amsterdam.

Route 1. From Overveen-Haarlem to Santpoort

I live close by Amsterdam Sloterdijk station, and from there I take the train to Haarlem or to Overveen. I take the train back from Santpoort Noord or Santpoort Zuid station (notice, this is not Zandvoort!). At Haarlem starts a long-distance trail called Nederlandse Kustroute. This in fact is a much longer trail that starts in Zeeland and ends in Den Helder. The route is cut in daily routes around 20km. Easily to be done in 4-5 hours or more if you take it easy.

Following the route is very simple. There are GPS tracks you can download here. But if you use your eyes well, all you need is to follow the red/white hiking symbol for long-distance trails. See below for an example.

Sometimes there are multiple route options. This route goes along the beach at some point, but if you use the OsmAnd app you can see alternate routes that just passes through the dunes. The route is approximately 16km but can easily be extended.


Route 2. From Castricum to Schoorl

This is a longer route, around 35km. I start by taking the intercity train to Castricum. This station stops next to the Dunes. First, I follow the NS route called “Noord-Hollands Duinreservaat“. The GPS file is available there too, but you can also simply follow the same red/white symbols as shown in the picture above.

After reaching the destination of this NS route, which is Egmond aan Zee, I keep on following the same coastal route as mentioned earlier all the way until the large Klimduin (Climbing Dune) at Schoorl. From there I take a bus back to Alkmaar station. You will pass by some of the largest dunes of the countries, a well as lots of forest and the nicest dune tracks of the country. Especially from Egmond aan Zee towards Bergen aan Zee.

Route 3. From Haarlem to Noordwijk.

When starting at Haarlem this route is 33km. You can also take bus 80, shortening the route by 5 km. This bus starts in Amsterdam at Elandsgracht, and you get off at the stop Zandvoort, Waterleiding/Nw. Unicum.

Following the route is easy, just look out for the red/white hiking symbol. The route is very pretty, featuring forest and the typical dune landscape. Along the way you are sure to encounter some deer. At Noordwijk, you can take the bus to Leiden station and from there continue your journey back home.

Routes from Amsterdam West

It is important to actually practice. Especially, if you’re not used to walk distances, it’s important to do some training. I have several routes inside the city that allows me to do shorter and longer routes. I have several 5km, 20km and 30km routes. They are mostly all green routes, with very few cars.

One of my favourite routes goes from Erasmuspark, Gerbrandypark, and keep on going straight all the way towards the end of Osdorp, turn left before entering the Tuinen van West, go through park De Kuil, and passing the pretty inland polders to Lutkemeer. From there I follow the Ringvaart (the large canal at the end of the road) towards Halfweg, where you will trains to Amsterdam as well as bus 80 towards Elandsgracht.

Arriving at Halfweg you can also continue part 12 of the Noord-Hollandpad, and follow the way through Spaarnwoude towards the Noordzeekanaal. Arriving at the Spaarndam Veerpont, you take bus 82 back to Sloterdijk. Or from Halfweg you can also walk along the Brettenpad, following this NS route with Sloterdijk as your destination.

Another favourite route of mine passes Erasmugracht, Gerbrandypark, Sloterpark, Piet Wiedijkpark, Christoffel Plantijnpad, Amsterdamse Bos and Rembrandtpark. It’s 18km long. You can check the GPS route or see the map here below.

Routes from Amsterdam Oost

The routes I have taken so far, start at Amsterdam West. But also in Amsterdam Zuid or Oost, you will find very scenic routes that are easily accessible by public transport.

  • Think of the Waterliniepad 8, starting at NS station Abcoude, going to Weesp.
  • Or Trekvogelpad 7, which you can take from Metrostation Gaasperplas, returning from NS station Naarden-Bussum.
  • Lastly, Zuiderzeepad, starting from Flevoparkweg, and take an alternative route from Muiden to Weesp station following the Vecht river, instead going to the official end Muiderberg.

Fishing Istanbul

The three of us sit at the front of a small fishing boat, peddling our feet in the water. The captain guides our boat to the fish, over the Marmara Sea with our backs to the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia.

The captain’s son is telling me how grateful he is, how privileged he feels to be able to enjoy Istanbul from a boat. “Millions live here but who is actually able to enjoy Istanbul like this?”, he reflects.

His dad bought the boat just five years ago, after his retirement. Quite a character he is: a funny, open, intelligent man full with humor. As we are unable to catch the big fish we want, he jokes to me not to tell anyone, especially not in the Netherlands. ‘Just tell them that we caught many big fish!’

How amazing to be part of this crew! Just days after returning from traveling from the South of Turkey with my partner, and having been with my new Istanbul host for just some hours, he receives the invitation to go fishing the next day. We get up at eight and an hour later we have our breakfast on the boat in a small Istanbul harbour.

While some of the other fishermen join us I am drinking my tea. They are joking. I am being introduced as the Dutch friend of the son’s friend and they ask me if I can swim and if they also know how to fish in Holland.

A little while later we leave the harbour to a spot a mile away from the coast, where there are more boats and fishermen. We take out the gear and merely 20 minutes later we already caught 40 fish to be used to catch bigger ones closer to the coast.

But the big ones don’t bite and since ‘we need something for lunch’ we return to the first spot to catch more of the smaller ones. We catch at least a hundred more, they are being cleaned o the boat with the water from the sea, and we feed the intestines to the seagulls. Yet an hour later we enjoy our wonderful lunch at the harbour with laughs and stories we share. What a wonderful experience!

And as we were seated with the three of us at the front of the boat I remembered what Vero and I told a man who gave us a lift in the south of Turkey, who asked us if we would need some money: ‘We are happy with what we have and need little to be happy…’

I also come to realise yet again how most Turkish people live their lives. How aware some are with what they have and at the same time how to be thankful for it, how to share this with others who don’t have it, how to share happiness and how not to preserve special things for oneself but to realise in fact that sharing makes everyone better. Win-win at its best.

This principle of sharing, how to be thankfull and to be aware of me being priviliged in terms of the opportunities that I have had, are among the most important things that I learned in Turkey.

Bikes, Horses and Feribot

Basically, when I saw a cyclist on the road, I asked him how that was called in Turkish. Since he did not see the cyclist, I made a peddling movement. His answer was feribot, and I replied I had three feribots. He first looked strange at me but then said he went by feribot to Ireland. I looked at him very impressed. “All the way from Istanbul?” And he said yes. Continue reading

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