Day 3 of our trip will be leaving Amsterdam and travelling north towards the Afsluitdijk which I think is the largest dyke in the Netherlands. It holds back the North Sea and it created the Isjelmeer Lake that we will be biking around for almost 500 km.
When we leave Amsterdam, we will be going into the countryside and it sounds like we should be prepared to see lots of water!
We will pass through the small village of Monnickendam where there is a Waterlandsmuseum called “De Speelklok” where they explain the history of the landscape. I would imagine they will talk about how the Isjelmeer was created, and that 1/3 of the Netherlands is below sea level. The lowest point at 22 feet below (wow) is near Rotterdam in the western part close to the sea. I am not sure if we are biking above or below sea level on this part of our cycle, but I know that Hoorn where we end off is 3 meters above sea level. The image below of the Netherlands gives you an idea of how much of the country is below sea level.
The dutch have a very impressive and innovative system of dykes, dunes and canals that help to break the water. When I went to the Netherlands last Spring, my Ome (Uncle) Hans and Tante (Aunt) Ineke took us to the Watersnood Museum – National Knowledge and Remembrance Centre. The events during and after the flood of Feb 1, 1953 are intensely described inside the Flood Museum, which has as its motto: Remember, learn and look ahead. Four concrete mega-structures, known as caissons, lie higgledy-piggledy in an ancient sea dyke near Ouwerkerk. They were used in 1953 to close the last of the many breaches in the dykes, and now form the Flood Museum. As you go through the first 3 caissons it tells you the story of the devastating flood that affected the south-western part of the Netherlands. More than 1800 people lost their lives, and tens of thousands had to flee for their life. Very sad. This happened a year after my parents immigrated to Canada. I never knew this history of this devastating flood. The last caisson talks about future water management (and how they plan to rebuild)
It is my understanding that the future planning of their dyke system is an ongoing project as they now have to look at building the dykes higher and stronger as the world’s atmosphere changes and the sea levels change, etc. I find it very interesting and would like to learn more about the water problems there, and how they propose to overcome them in the future. Other countries all over the world have learned from the Dutch in how to fix their water issues, such as New Orleans after the hurricane.
I am actually going to have a Part 2 blog of Amsterdam to Hoorn as I realize that I need to do additional research and gather more information on the exact route we need to do by bike. How can I research what we are going to see and do along the way if I don’t yet know the exact route (what roads and what paths) we are going to take between Amsterdam and Hoorn? I got a couple links from my cousins on routes, etc. so I am going to look through those to see if I can’t figure out our exact route. For all of those of you reading this that know this land, and this route please chime in to offer suggestions for the route, things to see and do.
I found this on the site for Isjelmeer Tour “…cycle up the shore of Lake Markermeer to friendly Volendam. The quaint stone houses in the distinctive heart of the catholic fishing village seem to have been drawn up without an organized street plan. “De Dijk”, overlooking the harbour, is lined with souvenir shops, pavement cafes and restaurants. Just around the corner is the pretty village of Edam. For centuries, small, round, salty cheeses produced by dairy farmers in neighbouring polders were shipped out of Edam and exported all over Europe. At the end of the day, you’ll reach the lovely, historical town of Hoorn. It has a history in whaling, shipbuilding, fishery and – most importantly – shipping and trade.” This sounds like where we would want to go so just have to figure out and find a map to guide us.
So stay tuned for Part 2 of Amsterdam to Hoorn.