I rode north from Leiden, with a transfer at Haarlem, to Heerhugowaard. Which is north of Alkmaar. This is a typical railroad crossing in the Netherlands. Although this crossing is not for vehicular traffic, but for passenger crosswalks at the Heerhugowaard station. Just as in the US, in more recent years real bells have given way to electronic bells at the crossings. But the electronic bells in the Netherlands have a richer sound. Similarly, with previous real bells, the bells in the Netherlands were actual bell shaped bells, with a richer sound.
The Netherlands has many of the same modern conveniences as the US. Including a major indoor mall at Heerhugowaard, Middenwaard mall. But "big box" stores are reportedly non existent in the Netherlands, a densely populated country where strict planning and land management is needed. Albert Heijn is a major supermarket chain.
Outside the Middenwaard mall, the price of gasoline converted to $7.40 per gallon. Diesel was cheaper.
At Heerhugowaard I boarded a bus, which would take me across the Afsluitdijk (Enclosure Dike) to Leeuwarden. The 20 mile long Afsluitdijk separates part of the North Sea to the left, from the Ijsselmeer to the right. Formerly the Zuider Zee at sea level, the enclosed Ijsselmeer is now a lake below sea level. And the shore areas along the Ijsselmeer are now protected from flooding. And in more recent years, artificial land was created within the Ijsselmeer, forming the new province of Flevoland.
I got off the bus at Leeuwarden, which is the capital of Friesland province, at the north part of the Netherlands. Mercedes-Benz supplied this bus, more comfortable for longer distances than the more typical transit buses.
At Leeuwarden, I boarded the Netherlands Railways double decker intercity train to the right. To the left is a diesel branch line train operated by Arriva. The "OV Chipkaart" and other smart cards can be used on either system. But when transferring (overstappen), one must "check out" of one system and "check in" to the other system. One checks out or in by touching the card on one of the pads, and then touching the other pad.
The line to Leeuwarden, and the line to Vlissingen, were the last two main lines of the Netherlands Railways which I had not yet ridden. Here is the station at Vlissingen, at the southwest part of the Netherlands, the extreme opposite end from Leeuwarden. Once again, crossing the entire country by train in just a few hours. Vlissingen somehow got derived into "Flushing" as a part of New York City, Vlissingen is on a peninsula in Zeeland province. I then rode back to Leiden.