Waking up on Monday morning, day 3 of my Bicycle Road Trip to Groningen - and - back, took no effort at all. My internal alarm clock went off at 6 am sharp.
I had ordered breakfast for 7.30, so had plenty of time to pack my Lidl bags and go over my route for the day. My mobile was holding up, although it did need yet another power transfusion and made funny noises. My bike battery charger worked perfectly though. And the knooppunten map had dried up, crinkly.
The hotel lady served me my breakfast in an empty restaurant, telling me yet again that I was lucky to have the last room. Yeah, right! All those people had not stayed the night, but had returned to Amsterdam where they had come from in the first place.
I was on my bike before she knew it. Wormer was just as depressing as the night before, although I did pass a lot of pretty houses.
I crossed the river by bridge and cycled into the Beemster polder. "Nothing but sheep", the man in the bar had told me the night before, and he was correct.
They were everywhere, with their backs turned towards the wind (still force 7) and rain (still lashing merrily), or watching me impassively.
My knooppunten led me past gorgeous farms, and through tiny hamlets, where the only living creatures awake were the sheep and some dogs.
When I neared the hamlet of Jisp, I needed to cross the river. The ferry was moored on the other side, though.
Waiting awhile, I idly watched a young girl pushing a trolly filled with leaflets along the dyke, until she had reached me and stopped.
"Hi, when is the ferry due?"
"You have to do it yourself," she explained with a big smile.
I beg your pardon?
She made me walk around the sign, and sure enough, there was a blue flywheel with instructions for drawing in the ferry.
'Push down the foot pedal and turn the wheel clockwise'.
It was connected to the ferry via a chain, and would draw it in. Now, normally, this would be done in balmy weather without wind, I'm sure. I had to do it against wind force 7 blowing that ferry down river away from me.
By the time I had it halfway, I had to rest. By the time I had it at my side, I was winded, sweating like a horse and exhausted. I wheeled Fietsje onto the ferry, and frowned at the two winches. See, they were expecting you to do this with two people! Not true, one was for one direction. The other for my direction.
I truly hope you appreciate the effort and hardship I had to endure to pursue my road trip!!! When I was at the other side of that river, I almost puked.
My map showed the next ferry in a short while, and I cycled towards the Jan Hop ferry with great trepidation. It being a Monday, and it being the Beemster, obviously the ferry café was closed. I wasn't even surprised by this time. No coffee for me and Fietsje.
But: there was a ship bell! I could ring that bell! It would summon the ferryman! Man, what a relief.
Ringing that bell was the highlight of my morning. Across the water an old man came out of a door in a little wooden blue-painted hut, and walked to the motorised ferry. He put-puttet to me, and tied up at the landing. One Euro to cross over. I would have paid ten.
He was grumpy, my ferryman. No nice chat about where I was heading. So we crossed the river in silence.
And on I cycled. The next hurdle was the Noord-Hollands Kanaal, connecting the North Sea with the IJsselmeer or Zuiderzee (the old-fashioned name I prefer). I had feverishly looked up the ferry times, afraid that this ferry would not sail on a Monday in the Beemster, but it was huge and even took buses, so it sailed. It took its time arriving though, so I had the time to have a pee and a sandwich to get my strength up in the ferry café.
My next destination was the old port of Hoorn, famous for its merchant ships in the Golden Age. Because of my early start in Wormer, I reached Hoorn around 10 am.
I had expected a sleepy pretty town; I got a heaving steaming reeking Summer Fair, with so many people drinking in the café's and bars that they spilled out into the rain onto the pavements. No one cared. It was mayhem.
Yep. You saw this coming: my knooppunten had disappeared behind fair stalls selling trash and trinkets, and I got lost - again. After trying to find my way for half an hour, I gave up and parked Fietsje next to a café terrace. I ordered a tea and a kroket sandwich. I got a coffee. Sent it back. Got two kroket sandwiches. Sent one back. Got the bill: for a coke, a tea and two sandwiches. Sent it back. Got the proper bill, with apologies. Accepted. Left.
When I spotted two policemen, I asked directions to the outskirts of Hoorn. They apologised, were strangers to Hoorn themselves, only drafted in to manage the Fair crowd, but if I wanted to walk with them to their meeting point, I was welcome. Perhaps someone there would know which way I should go.
So Fietsje and I were escorted to some street corner milling with policemen drinking coffee from plastic cups, getting some hoots from the revelers on the pavements. Fietsje, new to hoots, didn't like it one bit.
But: justice! Behind one of the police cars I spotted a knooppunten Knooppunt. Hurray, I was saved!
The gorgeous town gate was the last thing I saw of Hoorn when I sped away, vowing I will return some day to have a proper look at the town, preferably not in the 3rd week of August.
The rest of my trip to Hoogkarspel was wet and uneventful. I dropped off my gear at my b&b and reunited with a niece-once-removed from my husband, and an extremely nice time was had by all.
My tip for wanna-be knooppunten cyclists: make certain you have had a good breakfast before you attempt a do-it-yourself ferry!