As a birthday present for my sister, we went for a long weekend to National Park Weerribben-Wieden. Our hotel, Huis ten Wolde, was even better than expected. The room was very spacious and had a large patio with a breathtaking view over low, green lands and a huge sky. We had rented e-bikes for the 3 days. Considering the wide, open space we expected lots of wind so an e-bike was not a luxury. Or maybe it was. We didn’t get out of breath trying to bike against the strong wind and we actually moved at a good pace!
Breakfasts at the hotel were buffet-style. We got a packed lunch to take with us on our bike rides, and at dinner time we had 3-course surprise dinners with accompanying wine. The meals were served in beautiful rooms, decorated with very interesting pieces of art.
Our bike rides took us through the Weerribben-Wieden National park and several little towns and villages like Giethoorn, Steenwijk, Ossenzijl and many more. We had selected different routes for each day, covering of an average of 60 km each day. Bicycle routes are very well indicated.
The Weerribben-Wieden National Park is located in the north of the province Overijssel. Regardless of how untouched the area may look, most of it has been man-made. People used to cut the peat our of the water and produced turf. Everywhere in the national park you can find the pattern left behind by the holes dug out in the marsh and the lands strips in the peat bogs. At some places too much peat was removed. Due to the wind and waves large lakes ensued. Nature managed to adapt to the created conditions at every turn. This national park is of great importance as a habitat for animal species (information: Nationaal Park Weerribben-Wieden).
We started out with a bit of drizzle, but that didn’t dampen our mood. We were dressed for the weather! Our first coffee stop was in a restaurant with as decoration (?) a large statue of Mary! Continuing our trip my sister noticed she had a flat tire. Where to find a repair shop. In the restaurant they directed us to a gas station, a couple of km’s down the road. Would there be something else? We asked a mailman. He knew someone, very close by, but didn’t know if he was home. He wasn’t. What next. We phoned the “ANWB-wegenwacht” the equivalent of BC Canada’s BCAA. Normally a car service but they do help other vehicles, regardless of the number of wheels. In an hour the service car appeared and the very kind gentleman fixed the tire and we were on our way again. The weather improved and we had a great day. We filled the next 2 days with riding our bikes through the beautiful country side, enjoyed the weather, the sun, each other’s company. We had picnics , except one day when there was an invasion of mosquitoes and we had our lunch while riding our bikes. Next day the mosquitoes were all gone….
We saw plenty of storks, nests with young, a deer that could not find a way out of the field, heard the song of mating frogs, spotted all kinds of birds (but don’t know the names or species), crossed a water on a small bicycle ferry, saw windmills and tjaskers. Could not get to see an “eendenkooi” as it is only open under the guidance of a guide and it was breeding season, but the area was lovely and peaceful. The farmhouses in this area are beautiful. They are very well maintained, have almost all thatched roofs.
The Netherlands is a small country and even though I have traveled there extensively, growing up in The Netherlands, there are still places that are a total surprise!
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