© The Cedar Journal, 2021, all rights reserved.
I was happy to receive a ride to Schoonhoven by the Hubby as he was spending the day cleaning out his mother’s house. By 7:30am under overcast skies I started hiking in Alblasserwaard. Limburg was just starting to get the rain that was already causing issues as it dumped on the region, two days later making the International news with the devastating flood waters.
The start of the trail was the bike path that comes off the water ferry boat from Schoonhoven.
Then the path turns to the right. I was now walking on a footpath between two canals. This nicely mowed path seemed isolated. Willow trees lined the trail. A street on the left and industrial area of on the right.
This part of the Floris V Pad route runs along the Lek River as it heads down stream towards Rotterdam. The towns located along this part of the river are old industrial trading towns. Old flat farmland outside the towns. Groot-Ammers was the first town I came along today but not before experiencing a few surprises.
As I was hiking, I suddenly saw a fire truck come by with sirens on. It turned in front of me further up the trail and went into the industrial area on my right. I looked for smoke, nope, no smoke. Then came a helicopter that landed in the industrial area on the right.
“Ok, there is something seriously going on.” I thought.
As I approached the road where I had seen the firetruck turn there came a another firetruck, then a police car all blazing the sirens. I quickly texted the Hubby that my day was already in the “strange” category.
Not more than 100 meters down the trail from the commotion in the industrial area, I heard a very familiar sound, a milking machine.
I looked around and saw that across the road there was a field where the milk cows were lined up waiting to enter a small mobile milking building. I laughed out loud at the well trained cows waiting patiently for the farmer to move the milking machine from one cow to the next in line.
The morning was going to continue being “strange”. As I approached the town of Groot-Ammers I couldn’t find the trail sign. The little hiking inner voice kept telling me to stop and check the map and gps, the stubborn hiking self continued to hike! Finally, my stubborn self gave in and stopped, checked the map and the gps and had to concede my faults of not trusting to my inner voice. I quickly chose an alternate route through town. Walking through neighborhoods of well groomed front gardens and passing school children that were all very happy that they were in the final days before summer vacation.
This route was now providing me with several additions to my “hummm July file”. More to follow on those “hummm” at the end of the month.
Outside of Groot-Ammers I took my first rest. Sitting on a bench overlooking the Lek River, I watched barges moving freight up and down the river.
The wind seems to blow constantly on this flat landscape of the Alblasserwaard, with the sky threatening to rain I got back on the trail heading towards Nieuw Lekkerland.
As I approached the turn in the trail heading into the flat farm area I was happy to see this sign.
This was a real treat of the trail! A small road that wound on the backside of houses that are built on the Lek River dike. Most of these houses had long yards with beautiful gardens or buildings that had farm animals. The sounds of farmland quiet surrounding me. This area filled me with memories of my younger self growing up in the Minnesota farm country as I hiked along.
Soon the paved small road turned into a gravel road. These are not very common here in The Netherlands anymore so I was excited to be hiking on one.
This road was devoid of any activity other than the ducks in the canal and the birds, cows, and sheep in the pastures. The only sounds, the occasional farm tractor and the endless wind.
After walking for a distance, I crossed a very busy paved road and continued along the gravel on the other side.
The trail now is marked that it turns into a farmers field.
At this point it was clear that the trail went through the farm field but the “welcome” I was greeted with was a bit unexpected.
Now, being raised on a farm, I was not a bit put off from that sort of “welcome” from the local farmer. In fact, I was always taught that if you smelled manure it was the smell of money. I walked the entire field of money and even had to scrape some money from my hiking boots at the end of the field. I figured it was best to leave as much money as possible for the farmer.
Now, I came to a gate and had an audience of young cattle as I tried to figure the safest way to negotiate the rather unstable and baler twine secured gate. I could almost hear the cattle discussing the last poor hiker that had come this way and ended up falling into the canal, or the pile of “welcome”. I was not providing any such entertainment to the cattle audience! I threw my backpack over the gate, rounded the end of the gate where it sat next to the canal bridge deck, stood the gate up straighter and flater against the fence post which gave me just enough room to squeeze through the gap between gate and bridge deck. I picked up my backpack placed the gate back the way it was prior to my squeezing through and tip toed around several cow paddy “welcome” mats.
The cattle at this point seemed very impressed and started mooing at me. They even followed me down the pasture sharing their comments as I hiked.
At the end of this pasture I had another gate to climb, this time I just climbed right over the top and dropped onto a paved bike path.
As I walked past a large chicken farm I stopped to check out their automatic egg store.
I came to where the trail headed back towards the Lek River dike. Now I stopped for a cup of coffee and a snack bar out of my backpack. I listened to the wind wiping through the flat expanses of farmland.
A check of the map and the gps showed that I was at the half way point to Nieuw Lekkerland. I checked the bus schedule at the nearest bus halt and saw I had less than 20 minutes to make it to the stop.
I kicked my hiking legs into overdrive and focused on the windmill in the distance, knowing that the bus halt was close by the mill.
Suddenly out of nowhere from behind a old man on a bike passed me! Darn near scared the pants off me.
I made it to the bus halt. Even had 10 minutes to wait.
Public transport home.
This hike was 11.5 km.
© The Cedar Journal, 2021, all rights reserved.
© The Cedar Journal, 2021, all rights reserved.
My Floris V Pad Hiking Numbers:
- Floris V Pad- Amsterdam to Bergen op Zoom total distance 245 km
- Diemen to Weesp – 9.6km
- Total to date hiked – 103km
- Distance to complete – 141.1km
As I pushed my way out the door last week to hike another section of the Floris V Pad I was greeted with beautiful weather. To me it felt almost like a normal pre COVID day until… I got to the bus stop where I had to place a mask on my face for the journey. Just a week had passed by since my hike with my friend through Amsterdam but riding the train with her seemed to fly by without much thinking about the hassle of wearing a mask. Now, my stomach turned with anxiety as I started my journey.
Bus 300→Schiphol Airport → Train to Amsterdam Central → Train to Diemen.
The more than hour ride on the crowded public transport was enough to make me question my sanity of hiking. Taking the public transport to get to my start point, my inner voice constantly asking what if?
“What if that person that just coughed behind me has the Delta variant?”
“What if those tourists that got on the train carried a new form of the virus here to Amsterdam?”
“What if this mask I am wearing isn’t good enough?”
The biggest what if… “What if the vaccine I got doesn’t protect me?”
By the time I got off the train in Diemen I was pretty frazzled. As I came off the train platform, I encountered the first challenge in the hike. A construction worker directing me that I couldn’t walk in the direction I needed to go. I am sure I gave him an eye roll and a dirty look.
As I altered my path to the left, in an entirely different direction from the start of the trail, I grabbed my Garmin 64s gps out of the backpack and paired it with my phone. Realizing with shock, that my phone was at 50% battery and that I didn’t have the charging cable or my back up power pack! Not a great start to the day, to realize that I wasn’t prepared. I better just find my way to the start point.
I decided to walk in a square around the construction site. That sounds easy but in this country of water, canals and large housing areas it is always an adventure. You can start out thinking “I will just go down this street and then cut back across.” Then realize that when you finally get across a canal of water, that you could be very far away from where you wanted or needed to be.
I lucked out this time. I found a small bridge across the water, cut through several parking lots of several high rise apartment buildings, walked back in the direction I wanted to go from the train station, then I was back in familiar territory of the week prior.
Now at my start point, I headed East towards Weesp through a very industrial area. Passing a car repair shop, some business that dealt in designer items (wondered why here?), and the largest thrift store in Diemen. I was tempted to stop and shop but my backpack was already full of gear, it really didn’t seem wise.
The trail now started to look a bit more like the other sections of the Floris V Pad that I have already hiked. Suddenly I was in an area that had a horse stable! Then trees lined the path and the sound of the city rush seemed to disappear as did my earlier anxiety of public transport and frustration of not being prepared.
The path was in stark contrast to the public transport. Quiet, hardly any people.
I came to a nice bench in a wooded spot and looked at my phone battery. It was decreasing fast with the Garmin app active. I quickly texted the Hubby my situation so that if he tried to reach me by phone he would know why I wasn’t answering.
As I enjoyed my coffee on the bench and watched the walkers, dog walkers, and park cleaners pass by me I looked over and saw this.
I let out a loud laugh! Was I getting a message from the universe? I got up from my bench to get a closer look.
Yup, someone has been to Las Vegas! That sticker must have a story to tell! I laughed again at the thought of who might have placed it here in Diemen.
As I continued my hike towards Weesp I entered into a forested area. This one had a large sign with information about the area and what I might find while hiking. I smirked to myself when I saw a pine marten and a snake nicely displayed. Knowing that it was the middle of the day and very warm, not likely to see any of those creatures today!
I was on the trail totally alone, walking through what seemed to me like isolated territory, less than 12 km from the center of Amsterdam. This foot path was wonderful. I was watching my phone battery slowly die as I hiked the path. Just as I lifted my eyes from a near dead phone battery, I stood still in shock as this snake blocked my passage!
This was only the second snake I have ever seen while living in The Netherlands (15 years). Not caring that my battery was almost dead I took a picture of this very upset snake. If he was any bigger I would have taken his threats of pulling himself off the ground and making the ring around his neck flare outward seriously. At only about a foot and half long and not poisonous I knew he wouldn’t be a threat. I waited for him to backdown and move off the trail.
The day was getting warmer as I walked now out of the forest and back into farm country. I came along a very nice roadside stand that was selling eggs, and ice cream. With a nice sitting area for a person to take a rest. I couldn’t resist the ice cream. I sat and enjoyed the cool treat and was entertained by a passing damsel fly that stopped also for a rest. My universe felt perfect at that moment.
Weesp is where I started this hiking adventure of the Floris V Pad in late 2018. Now coming into the town from a different direction I experienced the cosy neighborhoods with beautiful front gardens as I wound into the town center where I had started this trail.
I finally reached the point where I had started. I quickly turned on the phone and took a picture of the point.
I walked through town, placed the mask on my face and entered the train station. My legs felt the strain of the walk but my spirit felt renewed.
Interested in my other Floris V Pad hiking sections? You can link to my start in Weesp here, or search Floris V Pad in the menu bar to read about my other section hikes.
© The Cedar Journal, 2021, all rights reserved.
Amsterdam is the start of the Floris V Pad hiking trail. It is not where I started my 245km hike in 2018. I decided to start in Weesp and save Amsterdam for a later time.
Logically, this hike should have been from Schoonhoven to Nieuw-Lekkerland. But, when a friend mentioned she wanted to hike with me and that she grew up in Amsterdam it provided a perfect opportunity to cross this Amsterdam section off my list.
MY FLORIS V PAD HIKING STATS:
Distance on this hike from Amsterdam start point to Diemen – 9.5 KM
Total Hiked to date – 94.3 KM
Total distance to Bergan op Zoom – 245 KM
Distance to complete – 150.7 km
This friend is a world traveler and a good ten years younger than I. I was a bit nervous about sharing my hiking with her. Silly, but true. Could I keep up? What if we got lost (that does happen to me occasionally)? What about snacks? What gear should I take now? I needed to think about two people and not only myself. Would the weather cooperate?
These are always concerns but when hiking on my own but I just kinda go with the flow of the universe. Was this friend like that? I have walked with her on short walks around our neighborhoods but this was different.
As I prepped in the days prior to the hike, I pulled out some older hiking gear. I would actually have to navigate this hike. Out came the Garmin 64s. We have used this devise for years for our canoe trips and I use to integrate the maps into my blogs. That was until I switched to a MacBook Air, then the pairing of the Garmin 64s was near impossible (most likely due to my lack of wanting to learn how to fix what was wrong and make it work). So I stopped using it as my navigation tool for hikes. Recently, I have just been using the old school methods of printed maps, intuition, and pure darn luck, and it works! So after three frustrating hours of downloading several Garmin apps on both my phone, and my MacBook Air, finding the interface cable for the Garmin, pairing the devices (still not sure I did it correctly), and downloading the gpx Floris V Pad file onto my devices. I thought I was finally up to date with the 21st century technology and ready to hit the hiking streets of Amsterdam. Take notice there are no Garmin maps on this blog posting! Meaning that I couldn’t get the track to save or load once we were completed with the hike. 🙄😬🤬
As I woke the morning of the hike, it was pouring down rain. I wondered if I would get the text message that my friend would rather not hike. I made up my mind that I would hike even if she decided this was not her kind of weather. Taking the words of advise from my Dutch Hubby when I first moved here…
“If you wait for a beautiful weather day here in this country, you will sit in the house all day! Doing things in the rain builds character!”
Now, with 14 years of character under my belt, hiking in the rain is normal and even enjoyable for me.
With only a text message asking if she should bring an umbrella we planned on meeting at the local train station.
Route to Amsterdam to start the Floris V Pad using public transport. Bike to train station Nieuw-Vennep→Train to Amsterdam Central Station→walk to Amsterdam Dam square.
My hiking partner for the day was Malika of ma.malika.travels on Instagram. I met Malika this last year at one of my volunteer jobs. Her family immigrated to The Netherlands from Morocco when she was young and lived not far from the large cruise ship dock in Amsterdam.
When we got to the Dam square we took a selfie in front of the royal palace to celebrate the start of the hike. Yes, it was still raining.
The Floris V Pad stickers along the route were not easy to find along the first part of the trail. Luckily I had my gps map loaded on the Garmin and linked to my phone. The three hours of frustration the day prior paid off! We hiked along, looked in shop windows and talked about how she grew up in this old scenic city. The best part of the day, we didn’t have to fight tons of tourists!
We finally found one of the route stickers.
Now we were almost to the area where the Floris V Pad follows the East bank of the Amstel River. Along the route, people setting up tables with items for sale. Malika shared with me that we were very close to the open air flea market. We stopped and talked with one of the vendors. We found out that it was actually the same flea market although it had been reduced in size due to COVID rules, then relocated due to construction. After this short exchange we continued our hike.
Now the trail hugged the Amstel River. The old buildings and neighborhoods in this area feels different from the hub of Amsterdam. Quieter. The streets are lined with micro gardens, the river banks lined with house boats, the architecture of the buildings old (by my standards, 1600-1900).
Malika and I chatted about the gardens, and all that we encountered.
One item that caught our eye was this huge wisteria vine.
At one point we had to take a detour due to construction. This could have caused anxiety leading us in the opposite direction back across the Amstel, to the next bridge, then back across to catch up with the trail again, but no anxiety, we just found a cool container garden.
The rain had finally reduced to a light drizzle. My rain jacket came off and went into the backpack.
We found our actual first Floris V Pad sticker.
We crossed over the s111 road and headed away from the Amstel River. This section of the trail is a long bike path along a canal. As we looked back towards the city, Malika made sure that I took note of the Rembrandt Tower, the tallest structure in Amsterdam.
The street art and graffiti also along this section of the hike was colorful.
We were getting close to our destination, Diemen train station. The station would mark about 9 km. This small suburb of East Amsterdam had its own treasures to reveal to hikers.
My phone had had enough exercise too, for the day. The battery was nearly dead from all the apps running my Garmin. We landed safely at the train station after completing 9.5 km.
All those worries and concerns about hiking with a friend were forgotten. We had a wonderful and fun hike.
Special thanks to Malika for joining me on this hike and for her photography, plus the app (Runkeeper) she used to capture the trek.
© The Cedar Journal, 2021, all rights reserved.