Thursday, 15 May 2014

Tingle's in Amsterdam

OK time for another guest blog and this time it comes from a genuine club man in C&DCYCLES Iain Tingle. Iain was often at the back helping less experienced riders long before the rest of us thought this was a good idea. He's also the man who put me onto the excellent 'Dancing up Hills,' biography of Charles Holland the first British rider in the Tour de France.

Here goes:

When I think of the Netherlands I think of 3 things, Tulips, Clogs and Bicycle’s. Now this isn’t trying to be stereotypical or narrow-minded they are just the three things that spring to mind. A word association if you like. Britain does the same Fish and Chips, The queen and Jeremy Kyle (Ashamedly I must say for the latter).

So on a recent business day trip to Amsterdam with a little free time on the side I decided NOT to do the normal stumble around trying NOT to look like a tourist taking photos and cranking my head upwards. This is one thing about try NOT always leads to…you always try to hard and end up being what you set out to avoid. This time I decided to go in feet first swallow my pride and be a total tourist.

Now in the past I must admit I have done a Segway tour of Bruges. To be honest I know I must have looked like a total tourist wally but in all fairness it was some great fun and highly recommended too if you get the chance. So visiting Amsterdam one tour sprang to mind, A city that loves it cycling there is only one way to see it by bike.

Searching online for options one company came up trumps great reviews, excellent response via email and the bonus of reserving via email and paying on the day. Situated in the heart of Amsterdam and roughly a 5 min easy walk form Amsterdam Central Station.

The staff were friendly and helpful. In a group of 8 we had a quick briefing and set about collecting our steed for the day. FYI YELLOW BIKE is exactly that. There is no missing these things.

All set up and ready to roll the tour guide ran off back to the office, returning with a handful of yellow ponchos just in case, as it turns out the best call.

We headed off taking some time to adjust to the European style of bike, front break on the left handlebar and rear break applied by peddling backwards. Even a keen cyclist like me it took a while to come to terms with this set up.

The route was set out and incorporated some of the main sights of what this Dutch capital had to offer. Every 10/20 minutes we would stop at a location, carefully selected to include severely talking points. And before setting off again we were told of areas to look out for on the next part of the ride.

This was a real time travels tour, we saw and heard about Amsterdam past and present. Amazing architecture, lovely views and all described by a tour guide that knew her history but at the same time knew not to over do it.

Now going back to the poncho, I was unlucky enough to pick a day that 1 hour into our tour the heavens opened and it poured, it came down like Amsterdam was going to be reclaimed by the water that once covered it.  The poncho was the saving grace, donning my bright yellow rain cape and looking more and more like a giant banana on wheels the tour continued. Rule number 5 and 9 adhered. This was the only this was the only slight downside to the tour, it is open to the elements but that is no worry some times you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Now I don’t want to go about what we saw and heard, just in case you get the chance to take it on. This is a tour that is perfect if you want an idea of what Amsterdam has to offer. It gave me a chance to see a little of everything from the house that Anne Frank graced to the many stunning bridges over the canal system, the galleries that house masterpieces and are themselves a work of art to look at to a famous coffee shops and everything in between. It is perfect start to a trip and with a few extra days there would have given me a list of places to go a visit with more time.

It showed me how the Dutch embrace cycling, biking in Holland is a way of life and an excellent way to get around. The cycle lanes dominate the cities landscape everywhere you look you see cycling and its culture and you start to understand why the Dutch love pedal power.

If you get the chance and you have day in this amazing city I highly recommend trying one of these tours. I leave you with this, no matter whatever the weather forecast take a tour poncho better safe than sorry.

Cheers Iain that's top blogging!
Happy Pedalling

No comments:

Post a Comment