Travellers' Tales: Going Dutch
Halfway across the Afsliutdijk, a 30-kilometre length of road and cycle path quite literally across the North Sea, the wonder of my situation struck me. We were only on the third day of our week-long tour of the Netherlands, and here I was cycling across the sea. It was heaven.
Uncharacteristically scorching sunshine from dawn to dusk added to the state of wonder. We left Zandvoort and Den Helder’s dunes and deserted Northumberland-esque beaches behind us, and had forest trails, quiet lanes and loads more coffee and apple pie to look forward to. We were heading to Arnhem, Nijmegen and Utrecht before returning to the ferry home from Europoort.
Everywhere we encountered friendship, unconditional kindness and a willingness to help. Struggling to navigate? No need to ask: the Dutch simply stop and offer assistance – in perfect English. Need somewhere serving gallons of coffee and tea plus a kilo of cake and apple pie? Places appeared in the middle of nowhere, one thatched oasis after another. ‘Eaten us out of house and home once again, gentlemen? Wonderful! That will be six euros, please.’
We were only on the third day of our week-long tour of the Netherlands, and here I was cycling across the sea. It was heaven"
Thanks to Vrienden op de Fiets, which translates as ‘Friends of the Bike’, we had 6,000 options for B&B accommodation in a variety of Dutch homes.
We visited Velorama, Nijmegen’s Museum of Cycling. It occupied three floors but sadly only a couple of hours. Beautifully preserved machines bearing familiar Dunlop, Rudge, Sturmey-Archer and Moulton logos confirmed the UK’s significant contribution to the bicycle. There were lamps, speedos, mileometers, and tin repair kits, long since jettisoned by their owners.
Just being on a bike made us really appreciate this amazing country. Vrienden op de Fiets? You bet.