Thursday, August 12, 2010

Highlands to Holland - no, not what you're thinking

Our second day in Holland was filled with even more surprises - mostly good.

We managed to find our way back to the LF4 easily. Never underestimate the value of carrying a good map. First we had to take a route that is recognized by the European Union as an international standard bike route, just a few km of it, but it was gorgeous. It wound up a hill, through a forest, with giant ferns covering the ground on either side of us. But watch out for the:

Once on the LF4, we found ourselves in a national forest - just beautiful. More ferns, different trees.

At a crossroads we stopped to make sure we were heading in the right direction and a middle-aged Australian couple stopped to see if we needed help. We chatted for a few minutes, clogging up the path and blocking the bike road signs. They had been living in Finland, and were cycling the LF4 to the Europa R1, all the way to Berlin. Very solid. They carried a lot less gear than us, as they were not camping. They gave us a tip on which way to go, and we were all off again.

Not a few km down the road, I reached down for my water bottle and... not there. Joshua! We stopped, I considered and must have had a pitiful look on my face. That was my Kitchen bottle, with my name on it. Shit! Is it too much to go back for? I remembered leaving it on the counter just after filling it up and before dunking my head under the sink to wet my hair. Joshua, heroic, decides he will leave all his bags and go back for it. 8km, one way, I figured out while I waited for him to return. It took him just 30 minutes, and he arrived panting, with the bottle. Then he said, "Going down that hill, through those woods, is the closest I will ever come to riding on the forest moon of Endor." An ewok, I mean Han Solo on a speeder! So it wasn't all bad. 

After that it was highlands... totally unexpected.

And then through forests.

Bike routes don't get better than this! It was dreamy, and we had yet another full day of fun riding and beautiful places.

Once we returned to civilization, I mean went through a town, we got to see what the Dutch like to do with their bike routes where there's traffic. I expected to ride on streets. But this town had a large park going through the length of it, and we basically followed paths through the park. Again, we were blown away. There is no way to describe the tree lined paths without using the word cathedral. The trees are so tall, and the branches bow towards each other in such a way that you are riding down a sun-dappled corridor, at least 10 meters high. The light was such that while moving, the camera insisted on a flash. But without the flash, it would have been too dark. Either way, photos do not do it justice.

After going down a long corridor, we wound around and saw some cyclists consulting a map. I just kept pedaling, hoping for another sign soon. This time, our faith in the route was rewarded with a sign quickly. Under the freeway, turned around so we were against traffic, we hopped up onto a path right along the freeway. Just for added variety.

I will admit that until this day, I was skeptical about our arriving in Amsterdam by bicycle. At the border, we had exactly three days, and when we planned it we figured it would take us four. Plus we had hoped to arrived early, to have an extra day before the wedding. None of that was going to happen. And I'd seen enough unexpected delays to know that pushing ourselves to make an impossible deadline would not be worthwhile. So I was cautiously pessimistic, while Joshua was set on arriving in Amsterdam by bicycle - not by train. Near the end of this, our second day in Holland, I started seeing that we might make it after all. In Rheden, after a good 60km at least, we stopped to research possible campsites for the night, and to look ahead again to Amsterdam. We were within reach of Utrecht, the city south of Amsterdam where we'd have to turn north, and with our handy map book we could count the exact number of km. If we made it another 10km or so, we'd be within 70km of Amsterdam! Celebration ensued, before we kicked out at least as many km as we needed and found a convenient campsite, aptly called Succes Camping.

Rheden afternoon coffee/beer, with a free mini-shot of coffee liquer drowned in whipped cream? Yes, please.

1 comment:

AA said...

Just absolutely, mind bogglingly, jealousy inducing fantasy. Thanks for Sharing!