Coffee & bagels, a picture perfect lighthouse & a secret beach
If you’ve read my previous posts about the stunning “Garden Island” of Kauai, you’ll know that its definitely my favourite of the Hawaiian Islands (so far!), and that I can’t recommend it enough as a magical and idyllic escape.. especially during the winter months.
Continuing my journey around the island, I thought I’d write a bit about one of my favourite ways to spend a morning on the North Shore. What could be better than perfect coffee and bagels, a spot of shopping, clifftop views, then sunbathing on a beautiful secluded beach? You can tell I’m getting excited for my next visit in December!
“We invite you to escape the ordinary; to leave the byways of man and immerse yourself in the wilderness grandeur of the Garden Isle. Only by exploring its natural wonders can you truly capture the meaning of this
Jack and Bev Harter
Everything but the doors! An open helicopter experience with Jack Harter
As I mentioned at the end of my previous Kauai post, In a land called Hanalei, if you are at all uncomfortable with heights, this will be challenging!That would be me!🙋 Put a tarantula on my hand, a snake round my neck, or a torch on my head and send me underground and I’m fine. I also love flying.. but I am not good with heights – especially cliff tops, or huge expanses.
That being said, in my opinion, seeing Kauai from the air is a must do in order to fully appreciate the island – just find the most comfortable way for you – whether by plane or helicopter.
I’m glad to say I lived to tell the tale of the helicopter with no doors! And here it is…
I’m really excited to be writing this post. Kauai is perhaps the most beautiful, serene, untamed and magical place in the world. A land of stunning (often deserted) beaches, wild surf, lush forests and hidden waterfalls. Of rolling hills and fiery sunsets and untamed wilderness. I can’t imagine anyone visiting Kauai and not wanting to just stay there forever. You have to go if at all possible. End of post.
Of course I’m going to write more.. but I can’t do this island (or Hawaii) justice in one post.. so this will be my first intro to Kauai and Hanalei, including where to stay, getting there and practical tips to ensure you enjoy the island as much as I do.
Following on from my previous post on the seaside town of Noordwijk aan Zee, today I’m concentrating on two smaller rides (around 10 miles each way), to two pretty towns, easily accessible and just over an hour from Amsterdam. If you love beautiful countryside, quaint towns, historic castles and great food.. these are a must do!
“the most beautiful and best kept Medieval castle in the Netherlands”
Originally built by Floris V in the 13th century, then later destroyed, the castle was re-built and restored on the original foundations in the 14th century. It has a fascinating history of reinvention, reaching its “Golden Age” when P.C. Hooft (a well known poet and playwright from Amsterdam) became sheriff (drost) of Muiden, and guardian of the castle. After more restorations, it became a national museum in 1878.
The route to Muiden starts off by taking the tunnel to the left of Amsterdam Centraal station (as you look at it), then turning right around the back of the station and out along Piet Heinkade towards Zeeburg.
Just over 4 miles out of Amsterdam, you’ll turn right onto the Nesciobrug suspension bridge (below)
For those of you who are interested – the longest single cable suspension bridge in the Netherlands with an award winning design. Try and appreciate this when you’re struggling up hill in 1st gear ; ). Once you get to the top of the bridge, the fun starts, as you coast down the other side and turn right straight onto Diemerzeedijk. Then it’s a nice cycle through the countryside, with hedgerows on either side.
Its around 5.5 miles to Muiden from here through pretty countryside, over the odd cattle grid, with stunning views to the left across IJmeer lake to Fort Pampus.
Once in Muiden, we usually lock our bikes up on Herengracht, to the left as you come over the bridge, then walk to Muiderslot itself.
Time for tea!
Visiting the castle
The castle is open most days until 5pm from April to October. After the 1st November it’s only open at weekends. Full details of the castle, tours, & planning your visit are on the website, here.
We didn’t do a guided tour, but there is so much information and a lot of interesting artefacts in the castle, it’s fun to walk around at your own pace. There are lots of steep (and well-worn!) staircases, but it’s worth the climb for the view across the grounds and to watch the yachts coming in and out from the windows and the battlements.
The castle is well set up for children, with loads of interactive games and adventures they can take part in, as well as falconry displays in the summer.
Where to eat
We’ve visited Muiden about 3 times, and each time we’ve had drinks and food at Brasserie Herengracht. In the summer, they have a lovely terrace across the street, serving snacks (Bitterballen of course!), light lunch & drinks.
On our visit yesterday, we had dinner for the first time in the restaurant. The food was excellent and the staff are always extremely friendly and great at what they do! One of the waitresses has lived in Muiden all her life, and another waiter has known the chef since childhood so it has a nice family vibe. The chef cooks up some really interesting and tasty seasonal dishes (I had an incredible pate with sweet toast, followed by beet risotto), and there’s a good wine list.
We were told that in the winter it is very quiet in Muiden.. which sounds to me like the perfect time to go for a brisk bike ride and cosy dinner! The restaurant gets busy with locals & tourists depending on the weather, so they suggest booking ahead if possible.
Weesp lies South of Muiden, and is another great ride from Amsterdam, around the same distance, taking about an hour each way.
It’s a pretty little town which dates back to the 14th Century, and is famous for the production of cocoa (which gives the area its chocolatey smell :)), and its many listed National Monuments. I’ve only visited at night time (we like to do evening rides to dinner and back), but I will be going back at some point to properly explore the town and the buildings – watch this space!. You can read about the town on the Iamsterdam website, here.
The bike ride to Weesp starts off on exactly the same route as Muiden, but instead of crossing the Nesciobrug, you continue South East onto Kanaaldijk, and onto Weesp.
Kanaaldijk is a tree lined avenue which seems to go on forever! It’s quite surreal to be riding below the waterline of the Rijnkanaal (Rhine Canal) on one side, with huge cargo ships sailing by.
Word of warning – if you do this trip at night, make sure you have some good working lights on your bike. The path along Kanaaldijk is pitch black, and it’s hard to see where you’re riding!
While we’re on the subject of cycling apps..this is my indispensable phone holder (green of course!) – I can have maps and apps visible while cycling, and it keeps my phone very secure (you can still tilt it up and down but the phone won’t be going anywhere). I researched a few before I bought these in two colours. Not recommended for answering calls while riding! Also, try not to leave it (and the phone) on your bike when you’re just popping into a shop…ooops!). You can click the image above to link directly to Amazon 🙂
Where to eat
Café-Diner ‘t Weesperplein
This is a lovely restaurant, right in the centre of town, with an interesting interior – there’s a tree “growing” inside, giving a feeling of being in a cosy courtyard. In warmer weather, they usually have the large windows open, and there’s an outside dining area (although we’ve usually been in the winter!).
The staff are really nice, and the food excellent. They have a nice “lady” sized steak, and we’ve had a lovely German Pinot Noir a couple of times (Peter & Peter).
Recommended for a cosy dinner after an evening bike ride – and I’m sure just as good for lunch!
So, I hope this post inspires you to hop on your bike and go exploring! There’s so much to see around Amsterdam, and all very accessible by bike. I’ll be posting more ideas and recommendations for trips in the future – follow my blog below to be automatically notified of new posts.
As always, if you have any questions, things to add, or recommendations about other day trips from Amsterdam, I’d love to hear from you!