Nieuwkoop & Nieuwkoopse Plassen

Passing conversations with people I used to know often has planted seeds about places I otherwise would have known had neither existed, let alone considered visiting. I remember making a wordplay, “Nieuw koop in nieuwkoop”, in response to them telling me about visiting her friend’s new houseboat there.

The urge to explore newer (pun not intended) places more comfortably has been gnawing at me. Staring at the map, the seeds took root, and I knew I had to bike around and see the lakes here. The place is hard to get to by car, public transport, or bike alone, so I put my shiny new folding bike in the car and went. It was a beautiful day for a nice 30km ride around the towns of Niewkoopse plassen.

The highlight of the trip was the zonveer ferry through the plassen, which felt like the Dutch version of “Windows XP Landscape”

But before I saw that, I had missed the ferry and had an hour to kill. I took off from Hollandsekade, my starting point and biked along towards the nearby windmill Westweense Molen.

Awe and amazement wash over me every time I see these windmills doting the landscape. They evoke a poetic feeling of being in place and out of place at the same time. They belong to a time from which nobody is alive, from a place I was never born, yet here we are in this place and time. I crave this juxtaposition.

I biked along the dijk with reed embankments, down via Wordense Verlaat

In my opinion, the quintessentially rural Dutch landscape consists of a farm doted by cows, a big house, a simple boat, and reeds along the canal. This is how I imagine ancient times were in this country, just frozen into the modern 21st century.

I took a self-operated cable ferry (Zegveld – Kamerik) across the canal to get to the other side. Rolling in the heavy chain sunk to the canal bed took forever. It was novel, but I’d rather not do it again.

I turned towards Hollandsekade, biking along the Oude Meije to my original planned starting point.

I reached the ferry point with time to spare for a quick bite of some bread. The ferry is solar-powered, volunteer/community run and built by the captain himself. Conversing with the captain about his story and chatting with other travellers in Dutch made me wish I had learned to speak Dutch a decade ago.

Ominous-looking clouds passing by created a dystopian contrast against the warm, sunny cotton-cloud skies. But that was soon behind us and stayed behind us.

Its unbelievable that so many people were born and live in this neighbourhood.

After an hours journey, I reached the little town of Noorden

I biked into Nieuwkoop, passing yet more of the Dutch landscape I have come to find comfort in.

The mirror like reflection of clouds and skies on the relatively calm waters was spectacular.

Took a small detour into the town to get a sense of the place. After stopping for a quite bite by the grocery store, off I went.

It felt poignant that as I made my way out of Nieuwkoop, I passed by a party with a song about Amsterdam playing out loud.

Open landscape, uncrowded open beaches, odd recreational boats on the water on a beautiful sunny day, with the rustling leaves and water splashing being the only sounds audible (and maybe aeroplanes, which were jarring), left me calm. No sooner have I happened than I happened about a restaurant; part of me wanted to stop for a coffee, and part of me wanted to leave and enjoy solitude. I wish to stay here longer, a lot longer than a day trip or a week or two would allow me.

On approaching Meije, which sounded so Japanese in my mind, a white tower emerged. I felt transported to a mediveal era.

Any moment sentries with spears and archers on horses would gallop towards me, inquiring as to my straying into their. That moment never came.

Biked back to my starting point before taking one last look at this serene view and headed home.