Through Netherlands – like a dream

Already when we were searching our cabin the night earlier we were struck by how many people from Asia is actually working for P&O. Almost every staff on ferry was most probably of Indonesian nationality, very nice and with very specific accent. We only had time to set our eyes on the windfarms that we were quickly approaching after this very pleasant voice woke us up by an announce in English, Dutch and German that we are just about to dock in Rotterdam Europort. Soon after – again with very amused staff on the dock and drivers of all kinds – we were cycling out of the Pride of Rotterdam.

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Rotterdam’s city centre is about 30km distant from the terminal that are fully stuffed with varied mixture of warehouses, railway transfer stations, refineries, water canals and wind turbins, cisterns and all that mix of industry of all kinds. And of course a cyclepaths, signed with precision on every junction. The scenery was a bit depressing however the luxury of navigation through the railways, cargo ramps and pipes on a smooth surface was cheerful enough for us. On our way we met some cyclist too – youngsters coeducationally and in gender homogeneous, sleek sportsman, but also citizens cyclist making their way to/from work. First taste of the fact that in here you cycle however and wherever.

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Rotterdam is unsurprisingly cosmopolitan city as you would expect from the biggest port in Europe. Ferries and boats and yachts of all sizes and shapes complete the city landscape in views through trees, cargo containers and buildings whole way to the city. We did not stay for too long in the city centre as manoeuvrings with 3.5m bike is not exactly the easiest thing to do, however the boulevards and modern architecture that we had a chance to see create open and inviting atmosphere. We decided to head towards the China town with the image of oriental-like dinner we started talking to a local member of hospitality club who was a that moment cycling through the town with his daughter comfortably sitting in the cargo bike. We exchanged compliments about respective bicycles and together set off for journey through the town. Over there you see the film square where you can play with huge lamps on rotating stands, around there they are finishing new futuristic building of a railway station… whole of the city centre was newly and hastily rebuilt after there was hardly anything after war but those buildings are now at the end of there life and so they build it again… Just the tunnel for cyclist under the river Maas that was build during the war is still functional today – with our tandem measurements we did not fit into the lift and did not dare to try the escalators.

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So we bought a fresh tempeh (that we were looking for for some time) and made our way through network of junctions and roundabouts out of the city. The cycle paths are, however, not limited to the cities but connecting small towns and suburbs and even distant farms. Cyclepaths curl through the residential areas, on the banks of water canals, between the fields and everywhere (!) we meet cyclist of all ages, looks, shapes and gender as they make their way on sometimes really squeaky bicycles wherever they need to go. I had came from UK with the need to greet, wink or wave at every cyclist I meet (sort of nudge-nudge “we are in it together”). But here it is not possible from the practical side of thing as I would hardly steer our tandem and most of all no one is really interested in anything like this in here – they all cycle here together. Cars give priority to cyclist on the crossings, at the roundabouts cyclist have their own line and even the cyclist themselves do obey by the rules and are considerate to the pedestrians and respect the rule from the right… We could have read probably hundreds of descriptions like this but it really is different when you see it on your own eyes and still we feel like Alice. It started drizzle in the evening and got cold so we camped on the side of a small canal.

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We are now continuing through scenic town of Breda and along the Wilheminekanal in direction to Tilburg and Eindhoven from where it is only short distance to Germany. Local beer has been so far delicious, farmers’ markets and local institutions provide free internet (and other things like water and toiletes). The flatland is starting to get on us but at least the wind goes the same directions and so we whiz through with only the chain making some strange noise. Everything else is still together and in place as well s our legs, knees and wrists for which we still have a bottle of Alpa (a traditional Czech alcoholic tincture that you can use for massage, disinfection and even for drinking).

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