Running provides me with a way to see the world and meet cool people. Plus it helps offset all the beer calories!
In this post I share six excursions from my trip to that wonderful corner of Europe referred to in history as The Low Countries: Belgium 🇧🇪, the Netherlands 🇳🇱, and Luxembourg 🇱🇺. I also managed to sneak in a quick trip to western Germany!
Top Excursions from my Low Countries Trip
Biking Around Amsterdam 🇳🇱
I flew into Amsterdam because it was the cheapest ticket and my long-time friend Aubrey Kincaid joined me for most of these adventures. You can rent a bike in Amsterdam for about 18 euros per day and cycle all over the city visiting coffee shops, cafes, museums, parks, etc..
We found it cheaper to stay out by the Amsterdam Sloterdijk train station rather than the tourist areas. From there it’s an easy ride through Westerpark to the city center. If we had more time we could have rode out to to the Zaandam windmills and taken the train back.
Boating Around Giethoorn
We picked up a car and drove 124 km north to Giethoorn -an 800 year old village where the streets are water. For about $40 euros you can rent a boat with an electric motor and putt around looking at the beautiful thatch-roof houses. This gave me an appreciation for the close relationship the Dutch have with water. One-third of their country is below sea level.
Via Ferrata in Germany 🇩🇪
I’m a big fan of Via Ferrata mountain climbing -which involves climbing with a harness along metal rungs, ladders or permanently fixed safety wire as a means of crossing otherwise tricky and steep rocky terrain. In German they refer to it as a Klettersteig. I did one last year in the Swiss Alps. Since the Netherlands is flat we crossed into western Germany to seek the mountains, and found ourselves in Eifel Nationalpark.
Below are photos from the Manderscheider Burgenklettersteig which leaves from the village of Manderscheid (where we rented the equipment) and climbs around two old Burgs (fortresses). Though the elevation wasn’t high, the climb was challenging!
Touring Vianden Castle 🇱🇺
On our way to Belgium we decided it wasn’t hard to drive through upper Luxembourg to add a new country to our list. This brought us to Vianden Castle which has overlooked the Our River valley since Roman times. You can pay the entrance fee and get an audio guide for your self-guided tour. For extra exercise, park lower down the road and walk uphill to the castle with a Diekirch Premium beer!
The Beer Lovers’ Marathon 🇧🇪
The Beer Lovers’ Marathon was the big excursion that brought me across the pond. I love running marathons in new countries and sharing the stories that inevitably grow out of these races on the MTA Podcast. This race took place in Liège, Belgium (the French speaking part) on May 21st 2023. In addition to the typical aid stations, the course offered 15 beer stops. Listen to my race recap here.
The highlight was meeting MTA podcast listeners: Rudy Vansingel from Belgium, Ron and Brummell from the UK, Maren from Belgium, Fiona from Germany, and Steve and Jean Plummer from the UK.
Most people run it in costume. I dressed as Clint Eastwood from The Good, The Bad, The Ugly. The course was hot and challenging but felt like a 26.2 mile long party.
Biking Through Kinderdijk
On my way back to Amsterdam I stoped and rented a bike at Kinderdijk -UNESCO World Heritage site in South Holland with 18th-century windmills. I didn’t pay to go in the Windmills but still enjoyed riding around and gawking at them. Fun fact: the Dutch starting using wind generation to drain water as early as 1200 AD.
There are, of course, many other excursions I could write about from my time in the Low Countries. Like exploring Gent with Rudy Vansingel, or Den Haag with Rochelle Wiegel, or trying Kapsalon (another Dutch delight) with long-time MTA Podcast listener Annette Behrens. I visited 4 countries, 3 castles, 4 museums, 1 national park, 1 cathedral, 1 monastery, 2 disc golf courses, and many bars, cafes, and coffee shops. What a place! Bedankt voor het lezen.
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