Enjoy the most colourful time of the year with the LEC on the other side of the North Sea in Holland (or the Netherlands for the people from the north, east and south of the country) during the long Easter weekend.
We will explore Holland based in Amsterdam; we visit this wonderful and often mis-represented city, as well as other towns, villages and the characteristic (extreme flat) countryside in a period of year the famous flowers fields are in full bloom.
Holland is famous and notorious for many things, and the nation's addiction to cycling is definitely one of the best known. We primarily get around on a humble bike, or 'fiets' in Dutch, so only sign up when you feel sufficiently capable of spending a few hours per day on a bike. We aim to get around in Amsterdam by bike, and there are two longer day trips planned in which we cover 40-60 km each day.
The Dutch landscape might lack sufficient topographical relief, but it makes up in great length with the notorious and ever-present westerly headwinds.
Amsterdam needs little introduction, its reputation is often larger than life (to hilarious effect):
Admitted, it is a bit easy to bring up Fox News reporting, but it shows how strong the reputation still is. Besides all this, Amsterdam is one of Europe's most beautiful and pleasant cities, that has smartened up considerably over the last 20 years and is well-worth a visit that does not focus on the liberal cliches.
There is more to Holland than its capital alone and we will also cycle through the iconic flower fields near Leiden and the North Sea beaches, as well as the Waterland region just north of Amsterdam.
This is a 4-day trip, planned from the evening of Thursday the 17th of April until Monday evening the 21st of April. You will only need to take the Thursday afternoon off, Friday and Monday are UK public holidays.
If you want to come on this trip I recommend booking some flights on Easyjet as soon as possible, it is the Easter weekend and prices will rapidly increase. There are a few options:
• London Gatwick - Amsterdam - London Gatwick:
Outbound flight 17/04/14, depart LGW 16:30, arrival AMS 18:45
Return flight 21/04/14, depart AMS 19:10, arrival LGW 19:10
Return flight price currently £106
• London Luton - Amsterdam - London Luton:
Outbound flight 17/04/14, depart LTN 16:20, arrival AMS 18:30
Return flight 21/04/14, depart AMS 19:00, arrival LTN 19:10
Return flight price currently £107
There are many other flight options, but Easyjet generally offers the best deals.
• Thursday 17 April. Arrival in Amsterdam in the evening and transfer to the accommodation in Central Amsterdam. A first exploration of the city centre, gentle walk through the Jordaan area. First sampling of some (fully legal) Dutch delights in the local kroeg (bar).
• Friday 18 April. Day of exploration of Amsterdam. Pickup of rental bikes in the morning. Visit to the Rijksmuseum, housing more Rembrandts, Vermeers and other Dutch masters than any other museum in the world. It re-opened in April 2013 after a 10 (!) year renovation, to great critical acclaim:
The afternoon will be spent cycling/walking through the old city, with an optional guided tour around the Red Light District. Your organiser has done this a few years back and it was very interesting to hear many anecdotes about the history and current situation of this notorious neighbourhood.
• Saturday 19 April. Visit by bike to the flower fields in the surroundings of Leiden. A 50 km circular cycle ride is planned, departing from the beautiful city of Leiden. We will have all day to explore the flower growing region with a potential stop-over at the local beach. Dinner is planned in Leiden.
• Sunday 20 April. Cycle ride through the Waterland region. This is indeed very watery land, situated just northeast of Amsterdam. Over the centuries, the seawalls protecting this area have been breached often, causing widespread flooding. These flooding event have left their mark: bendy dikes wind along the former Zuiderzee (Southern Sea, complementing the North Sea), often skirting former breaches that are visible as lakes. Waterland is dotted with picture-perfect villages and it makes for a lovely day out, very close to Amsterdam. The length of the cycle ride is variable, although the most scenic loop is about 50 km long, including a coffee break at the parents of your organiser in Monnickendam!
• Monday 21 April. Further discovery of Amsterdam, with some suggestions for visits:
• Hermitage Amsterdam museum. An official subsidiary of the original Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, showcasing some of the best pieces of the original collection in temporary exhibitions.
• Visit (and sampling) in a local brewery. There are a few independent microbreweries in Amsterdam that provide tours and have usually very tasty beers.
• Canal boat ride. A classic way to see the city, but highly rewarding.
The departure to Schiphol airport is scheduled at 5pm.
This is a nice one: we are going to stay onboard the traditional Dutch sailing ship Lauwerszee! These ships were used until the early 20th century for transporting freight over shallow Dutch lakes and canals. In the colder months the ship is moored in the Houthaven (Wood Harbour), only a 10-15 minute walk to Central Station and the City centre.
The ship is fully equipped to accommodate groups, based on twin (bunk bed) rooms with private wash basing and shared sanitary units. This type of accommodation is surely the most atmospheric and one of the most affordable way to stay in Amsterdam. Due to the limited size of the ship the maximum number of participants on this trip is 16.
More information about the ship:
Price and payments
The full sum for the trip is £300.
A first deposit of £150 is due by the end of December 2013, and the remaining £150 by the end of February 2014.
The accommodation needs to be booked as soon as possible as places fill up quickly over the Easter period, so please do not delay any payments.
• Four nights on board zeiltjalk Lotus
• Bike rental for all days
• Entrance to museums
• Additional travel (trains to/from Schiphol, to/from Leiden)
• Possible guided walks
• Flights/travel to from Amsterdam
• Unfortunately, Holland has the same unpredictable climate as the UK. In general April is a pleasant month, but it can be cold, rainy and windy. If the weather forecast is very adverse, the long cycle routes will be replaced by walks and/or some more indoor-oriented visits. Please come prepared and bring wind and rainproof clothing, as well as clothing suited for cycling.
Helmets and high-viz are absolutely not necessary, the cycling infrastructure in Holland is sublime. Most Dutch people would make fun of you if you were to wear it.
• The ship is fully equipped with bedding and linen, but can be more chilly than a hotel room at nights due to the cold surrounding water. Bring some warm clothing for the evenings and nights.