1. The bike infrastructure is really, really limited
Planning your bike tour across Belgium and The Netherlands starts with Fietsnet: de Fietsrouteplanner voor de Knooppunten. Why is this such a gem of a web resource? Because this site:
- Shows all bike routes across both countries
- Helps you plan your route, optimized for bike-only routes
- Optimized to print out as a cue sheet (vertical strip) sized perfectly to cut and tape to your bike’s top tube
2. Soooooo limited. Like, hardly any route options...
Roads to nowhere, fast.
3. Fietsnet is only offered in Flemish
Despite the site only offering route planning features in Flemish, we were still able to plan our route with ease. Click by click, we plotted our course across the countryside, from Brussels to Amsterdam.
4. Bike shops are hard to find
Cyclo.org is a Brussels-based nonprofit located all over the city. We went to their Central location, just next to the train station, to pick up our new wheels. They specialize in recycling bike parts, offering free safety and maintenance training events, and offering workplace opportunities for deaf and blind folks. And they gave us lattes while we were shopping, because Europe.
5. Speaking of trains… Trains were super non-existent, hard to board, and unaccommodating for bikes
Bikes only cost an extra €5. Trains always had extra bike capacity, and train stations were equipped with bike ramps next to staircases and ample bike parking.
6. Fietsnet’s route numbers correspond to signage along the way
Left on 3? What does this sign even mean? Could they make this any harder? I can’t read Flemish, remember?
7. Nothing to see here
We were fortunate to bike through the Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to see the famous 19 windmills. Flower-lined bike paths, to top it off.
8. Getting from A-to-B was a drag
One more tree-lined canal, and we were going to freak.
9. Old cities are overrated — Definitely avoid Brussels
Grand Place de Brussels Grote Markt is the central square, set up in the 11th century.
10. No history here
Karl Marx wrote parts of his Communist Manifesto here at the Restaurant Le Cygne Brussels (Grand Place).
11. Bike parking is hard to find in Ghent
12. This maze, also known as Brugge, is clearly impossible to navigate
13. Time zone changes are hard
The clock tower on Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp certainly didn’t help lighten the mood.
14. No time to stop to smell the roses
Becuase they were only growing tulips and hyacinths.
15. The bike highway connecting Keukenhof to Amsterdam… why even bother with this mess?
16. Amsterdam really pushes the bike agenda down your throat
400 kilometers later, we made it!
17. Amsterdam is pretty boring, overall
18. We’re supposed to share the road with cars and people?
Hard pass. Lost cause.
19. The Rijksmuseum was having a lovely day…
Until this bike path came barging through yelling “ON YOUR LEFT!”
20. What’s next, a matching cheetah bike outfit?
I’ve been wanting to post some of these pictures for a while, so I hope you enjoyed. Where do you recommend to bike tour? Thanks for any tips. Best way to see a country is by bike, I’m convinced!