I know this is hardly a dramatic revelation, but the Netherlands has cycling sussed. Roads for cars; paths for bikes; separate paths for pedestrians: everybody happy! The cycle paths are shared with mopeds, in-line skaters and – as we discovered when two shot past us – mobility scooters. We were going slowly trying to navigate, but even so, I’m impressed and slightly shaken by the top speed of those things.

We did the full cliche and cycled past lots of windmills (modern ones) between IJmuiden and the outskirts of Amsterdam. Our hotel is in Zaandam, northwest of the city centre. We had to take a short ferry crossing to get here – no charge, took about two minutes – and then we had a minor detour trying to find a bridge over the next canal. Although we did see people on pedaloes on the canals later, I still think pedalling is best done on a solid surface.

Once we dropped off our luggage we headed into the city centre on unloaded bikes via another ferry and parked in a two tier bike park by the west side of the Central Station, which I thought was enormous until I saw the multi-storey on the east side. Then lots of wandering around Amsterdam centre, and the compulsory canal tour, and a cycle back to the hotel in the dark which was a lot easier than I expected. All without incident except when the elastic strap from the top of my pannier rack sprang loose and wrapped itself around the cassette and chain. Took us several minutes to cut it up and unwind the pieces but mercifully no damage done to the bike.

One random thing I am enjoying here is the street names. There are themed groups as you sometimes see in the UK, but the names just seem more imaginative. In IJmuiden we had a main street called Planetenweg and side streets called Saturnstraat, Uranusstraat, Jupiterstraat and Plutostraat. Near the hotel, we have Computerweg and leading off it are Printerstraat, Scannerstraat, Modemstraat, Plotterstraat and Displaystraat – oh, and Softwareweg, in case you thought it was all about the hardware. My personal favourite today, though unexplained, was Basisweg.

Tomorrow we set off in the general direction of Arnhem and Bocholt and we will see how far we get.

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