Netherlands 18: A day out in Hoorn

While staying at our holiday home in Bovenkarspel, we decided to venture to Hoorn for a day out. Hoorn is located about 14km to the West of Bovenkarspel, and shares the same train line towards Amsterdam.

Hoorn is quite an old city, having acquired city rights back in 1357. Though now located on the Markermeer, it was once a harbour town on the Zuiderzee and the home base for the Dutch East India Company.

Being a historic harbour town, there’s a lovely old harbour as you’d expect, though it’s now mainly used for the leisure purposes. There’s some impressive old buildings to see around the harbour, including the Hoofdtoren defensive tower. There’s plenty to see elsewhere too, such as Roode Steen square and the old buildings that surround it.

Hoofdtoren defensive tower at the harbour

We took the train to Hoorn, as it was just a short 20 minute train ride away from Bovenkarspel Flora. It would have probably made a nice cycle ride, but I couldn’t persuade the rest of the family to get on their bikes!

Cycle parking near Hoorn station

Arriving at Hoorn station, we crossed the road and headed for the centre. As we were walking, I soon spotted E-bike Store Hoorn. I’d seen delivery vans from this bike shop around, so I was intrigued to have a look.

Arriving at E-bike Store Hoorn

E-bike Store Hoorn really didn’t disappoint. There’s an absolutely huge selection of e-bikes of all kinds. As you’d expect, there’s a big selection of Dutch bikes from Gazelle, Cortina and Sparta. There’s then more unusual e-bikes from the likes of Urban Arrow and adapted e-bikes, enabling those with disabilities to ride.

Browsing E-bike Store Hoorn, it’s evident just how big e-bikes are now in The Netherlands. This has been building up over time, each year on our visits we’ve seen their popularity grow. Originally, I’d say it was mainly the over 50s who were riding e-bikes, but now it’s people of all ages.

Now, some people get a bit snobby about e-bikes and think it’s cheating or they’re not real bikes. Generalising a little, I’d say people with that view are more likely to be ‘sport cyclist’ types.

Those with more transport cycling view of things often see e-bikes as a logical next step. Whether it’s to enable you to carry greater loads, ride further or ride when you’d otherwise not be able to. I fully expect to be riding an riding an e-bike at some point and I have no problem with that.

Now, I didn’t get to spend too long in E-bike Store Hoorn, as my family don’t quite share my enthusiasm for bike shops. So we left and headed to find some lunch and go for a wander. Hoorn is a lovely town, particularly around the harbour. It’s a very typical old Dutch town, so expect lots of old buildings, canals and bridges.

People of all ages cycling in Hoorn

From a cycling perspective, there wasn’t a great deal to see. The roads tend to be quite narrow, but with a lot of space given over to on-street parking. The roads were relatively quiet in terms of motor traffic, which makes cycling a more attractive option. We did see plenty of people of all ages cycling around though.

Bikes, planting and people eating out in Roode Steen

After wandering round the harbour, we stopped back in Roode Steen square and found a bar to sit out. There, we spent a very pleasant few hours eating, drinking and watching people come and go.

Roode Steen is a lovely square and it makes me wish we had more European style squares back in Manchester, instead of the likes of the awful mess of Piccadilly Gardens. Manchester could definitely learn a thing or two from The Netherlands on how to create well-used, pleasant and maintainable public spaces.

After a very pleasant day, we headed back to the station and back to our holiday home in Bovenkarspel.

Back to part 4 – A day out in Amsterdam

Next to part 6 – A ride on Houtribdijk

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