Koppelpoort, Amersfoort

I was overtired so didn’t sleep well and we were disturbed by constant announcements from 06:30 even though we weren’t due to dock until 08:00. It was again very cold as we rode north, stopping for breakfast at a beach cafe. We had to wait about an hour before the food arrived so it’s lucky we weren’t in a hurry, and it was pleasantly warm sitting by a glass wall sheltering us from the wind. We continued to Den Haag and saw some of the city as we made our way to the station for the train to Amersfoort, changing at Amsterdam Zuid.

Dutch cycling infrastructure is in a different league to Britain, we are such a backward country. Through cycle traffic is prioritised and protected at junctions and roundabouts so the fear of motor traffic is banished, good for the environment and health, we saw few overweight people.

Amersfoort’s mediaeval old town is beautiful. Its most famous landmark is the 15th century Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren (Our Lady tower), at 98 metres the third tallest church tower in the Netherlands, and stands in the geographic centre of the country. It was built to commemorate the Maria Miracle (a little wooden statue which made ‘miraculous’ things happen) as Amersfoort became an important pilgrimage site. Amersfoort was granted city rights in the 13th century, during which a ring of defensive walls and moats were built. In the next century a second wall was built along with towers and elaborate gates, much of which can still be seen today. The most notable gate is the Koppelpoort, a unique medieval structure being both a land and a water gate.

We ended with a couple of excellent beers brewed on the premises at the Three Rings, I was pleased to discover that the country has more to offer than Heineken. We had a long chat with a local who’d visited the UK and had been shocked that cyclists don’t get the same respect as at home.

Train to Berlin