Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hoboventure: Netherlands

Nieuwegein to S'Hertogenbosch

Certain Hurtin', Boss.

Getting back to the LF7 was a cinch, the next day. There was a brief run in with an ambulance driver, telling us we weren't allowed on that particular road. It didn't really matter, as he told us at our turn off, and traffic was light. Besides, some of the signs are do not follow logic or convention.

We pushed and plodded along for about an hour, until I had to eat. Breakfast was a nutritious variety of dried fruit and bread with jam. The view was of twee houses and canals and parkland. We'd already gone through a petting zoo, seen frolicking animals and children in harmony - or something. The next destination was a river-crossing. Earlier, Ww had been overtaken by a older couple out for a day trip. At one point, we saw them stop and read a sign and proceed to turn around. Moments before we reached the pathway to the ferry, they passed us in the opposite direction. We sat down at the ferry dock, and finally figured out it wouldn't run on Sundays until a week later. Poor Dutch and poor luck. Helpfully, a gentleman with a stroller told us to just head over the bridge. Ha! Bridge! my legs were not ready. It was a bit tough going - especially when the roadies blew by. There was a bit of a wrong turn (on the flats at least) and then a straight shot along the LF7 again. 

We were truly in Dutch countryside by now. There were picturesque family farms moated by small canals. Bridges were driveways, and some of the fancier (read: older) places had full moats and fortifications. We passed  through fresh spring fields with bare trees and perfectly parallel canals flanking. Geese of "canadian" variety having a laze. Home brewed coffee stop. As the after noon wore on, I had to play "find the lost item". We planned a brief shortcut which ended when we made it to a functional vehicle ferry. 

Across the river, we rode along a raised dike roadway with mills below. This turned into a canalside road with perfect villages. There was one more ferry to our campsite, but it was at a tiny dock with no operating boats. This being late Sunday afternoon, still in the "winter" season, there were no visitors to cater. This meant we made our own route into 's Hertogenbosch, and the campsite was not 2 km away, but another 20. Villages less perfect as we approached civilisation - that could have been the crack in the rosy lens though. 

Arriving in 's Hertogenbosch we were tired. Started to followed Naggy who got annoyed with our one way roads. Again, the amount of urbanisation made finding a campground impossible. We did try by going further south, but the LF7 route was blocked by a construction zone - and honestly, the exhaustion of the day did not allow for more map navigation. We found a hippy hotel, run by a sweet family. Matt broke out our cooker, and made our first stovetop meal: traditional Dutch rookwurst and kale-potato mash. Of course there was first the scramble to find food in the deserted environment. Then sleep. 

Just outside of the train station is a statue of a gold gilt dragon. At 6 o'clock in the evening, it shimmers particularly prettily, as it does in the morning. There are quiet treed canal streets that follow the bike routes of the Netherlands. Our escape from 's Hertogenboch complete, we traversed more dutch country roads, with inhabited buildings dating form the early 1600s. Today was proving to be another lovely spring day, with a short hop to Eindhoven Centraal. Coffee, windmills, country lanes - glorious repetition. In suburbia, managed to muck away inward through some weird route.  Hobby farmland in the middle of the city,  then straight into a pedestrian core in the downtown, followed by a small Centraal. 

S'Hertogenbosch to Eindhoven
Tickets for ourselves and our bikes to Maastrict lead to our first encounter with a train and the following lostnss out of stations. Then, an ethereal voice booked us into the B&B. The room was on the top floor - with a sunset view of a gilded bell tower spire. The B&B itself faced the side of Sint Servaas Basilica. The early arrival let us have a late afternoon sunny square side snack. Sometimes there is nothing nicer than perfect atmosphere and decent food. A quick wander both before and after our actual window-sill dinner let us see other sights of Maastrict, nothing substantial though. We were to leave the next morning, with a full schedule of train travel ahead. 

We'll have to figure this travelling out eventually. Getting from town to town needs to get easier so we can enjoy and learn about what is around us. The fields of the Netherlands are a great place to start cycling. The weather is perfectly mild and the terrain is flatter than pannekoeken. Cycling is easy along planned routes, with adequate signage and wide clearances. Having understanding and accepting vehicle drivers  helps tremendously when routes are not fully separate. Cycling itself is enjoyable and the going is easy enough to stop and look at things. So far, we've just been happy with looking outward onto the given scene. 

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