Thursday, March 3, 2011

Interlude: Amsterdam

Today, we all take a break from re-hashing travels to talk of the present time. Return to France in a couple days from now. 

We had been relaxing since Monday, but still going out daily to Centrum and back. No major goals in mind. Slightly bored.We'd become annoyed with the cold and rain and drabness. Saturday, Matt was trawling with the internet, looking for things to do:

At the RAI, the Amsterdam RAI, it's a convention hall, south past the big ring road, down here, not that much further than our usual. [pause]

 There's an outdoor and travel show. It's a show about outdoor stuff and travelling around doing outdoor stuff. [pause]

It's got a bunch of hiking and cycling stuff. Do you want to go? [pause]

Of course! 

It's tomorrow. [pause]

So Sunday morning came, as did the rain. We'd figured out a bus route that led us almost to the front door of the RAI. The day before, Matt had learnt that his water-resistant jacket was no longer water-resistant in any way, so the closer to the front the better. We still had to wander across a large open pavilion before getting to the ticket desk, so Matt got a bit damp. We should be used to it by now; Amsterdam is not known for being a sunny corner of the Earth.

As soon as the tickets were bought, and we had entered, I pulled out the DSLR to take a few pictures. Where else is better to photograph bikes than at a convention, where they shine with cleanliness, unused. It was quickly pointed out to me that the screen said "No Memory Card Installed". I was stuck using the iPhone camera for the day.

The show was a fantastic resource, and couldn't come at a better time. It had travel information on hiking trails and campsites worldwide. This could have been information overload; but details diminished with distance from the Netherlands. Matt and I managed to buy a Dutch map book that we'd been searching for in many Amsterdam bookstores. Also, some market vendors and camping/B&B owners showed uo to sell their products. Further abroad, information on multi-national pilgrimage hiking routes was plentiful. This is particularly good as my Dad has travelled along part of the Spanish Santiago de Compostela route, and the pilgrimage routes translate into good touring cycling. Some info was available on the Americas and Asia, but that's too far away for our plans. All the paper, flags and goodies took up Hall 10. Halls 9 and 11 were still to come.

On the Road: Crank Fix
Hall 9 was across the way, and next on our list. Here we found the alluring face of a bike show. There were retailers hawking last seasons' stuff, and industry teasing with next year's shiny samples. Industry booths were from the likes of Rohloff, Brompton and small specialized touring bike manufacturers. There was one booth that has magnificently engineered bike pumps! Stores were the camping/outdoor life category, or touring bicycle stuff. We picked up some items of need, at a discount price. I got a bit goggle-eyed at a vertical bicycle parking aid and a guy who seemed to be showing travel fixes for severely broken bikes. Behind him an open area was set aside to allow people to test rides bikes. Unlike the Toronto Bike Show on this track were mainly tandems, folders, cargo carriers and granny bikes.

Bike Test track
At this point, we were almost broke, but hungry. Upstairs was a decently designed buffet restaurant. Not a single hotdog booth in sight. Ate food, drank drinks, went back downstairs for the last haul.

Hall 11 proved to be more touristique than the other two. Instead of aiming at the outdoor crowd, it seemed to be more for bus tour groups. We went through it quickly, and ended back up in the first hall. We did a quick go-around of everything again, ran outside in the rain to the bus shelter to wait for the first public transport to come our way. Back home. Tired and happy.

1 comment:

  1. this travel bike fixing thing sounds highly intriguing, more on that pls, if you have info (to my email box pls, b/c your blog doesn't notify me when someone replies).
    also, a buffet?! jebus, this place of far-away in which you live sounds so....liveable. must be nice to be able to actually eat real food at a trade show, rather then a $4 slice of cheese pizza (i don't think that i'm exaggerating that price either)