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Day 78 - 83

Day 78.           08/04/23

Somehow I forgot to mention in our blog that we have left Germany behind and we are now in the Netherlands. Another great breakfast before we

packed up our room and headed out. We had a very short ride ahead of us because we had plans to stay with Wim and Lydia. The bicycle route system in the Netherlands is very well organized and protected from the traffic. It is more like bicycle roads along side of the car roads. To get to their home, we rode though the beautiful countryside filled with woods and farmland.



We came to an enormous open area and alongside the path were banners of photographs depicting paratroopers landings. They stretched out a long distance before us until we came upon a beautiful metal memorial. We were actually standing in the field where 1,900 British troops were dropped during operation Market Garden. It was so surreal that you could let your mind imagine the chaos of the day as it unfolded. Every year they hold a commemoration at this site to keep the memories alive.



We arrived at Wim and Lydia's and they welcomed us with open arms. It felt so good to be with friends. We got settled in, quickly taking showers and doing laundry and eating an amazing spread of snacks. After relaxing and chatting, we headed out for a short hike and then off to dinner.

An excellent Greek restaurant was the food of choice and we enjoyed a huge family style meal. Very delicious ! The time got away and the next thing you know it was 11:30pm. I don't think I had been up that late in quite a while and my bed was calling.



Keep on rolling

Scott and Sarah

Rode 12 miles




Day 79           08/05/23

Yesterday was filled with all kinds of Dutch surprises. First, we did not slip out from under the sheets until almost noon. We sat around the table for the next few hours while Wim experimented on us with Dutch cheeses and drinks that I can't pronounce. We got a taste of something they call egg nog, not to be confused with what we drink in the US. The taste was actually very pleasant and the cheese was amazing. After we put on our wooden shoes (just kidding) we headed off in the car for some adventure.


The area is nicely forested and beautiful. We found ourselves parking in a preserve filled with hills and hills of purple heather bushes. As we were standing there another couple walked by us and we all began talking. It turned out that the man owned a cheese shop and we were soon discussing the topic of cheese. I began to wonder if Wallace and Gromit had such discussions. They suggested taking our picture and it was a wonderful short encounter.



Wim had a surprise for us. After we took our walk Wim opened up the back of his car where he had hidden his gift. Out of a bag he pulled a container of fish. Of course it was a raw fish (Herring) about four inches long without the head but with the tail still intact. He said we must try this Dutch delicacy. At that moment I could only imagine what Sarah was thinking. Raw fish, or fish in general is not her forte. Wim tipped his head back, held the fish by the tail and proceeded to eat it. I was not enthusiastic but Lydia cut me a piece and I ate it with sliced pickles and onions. Even Sarah gave it a go like a good sport. I think we satisfied the minimum standard of guest relations. With the fish consumed, we were off for more adventure.



We headed to the town where Wim's parents grew up and stopped into a local bar for another Dutch surprise, croquettes, breaded meat filled balls. This time they were accompanied by a beer but they were actually quite nice. It was then that Lydia mentioned that McDonalds offers a sandwich called a McKroket. I now have another reason to go to McDonalds before we leave the Netherlands.



We left the bar and headed over to a dairy farm that has been in Wim's family for generations. His cousin (Wilhem) still runs the farm and he was more than happy to show us around. Out in the pastures we got to see three bunkers built by the Germans during WWII. It is amazing how much the marks of the war can still be seen 80 years later. Wilhem took us over to the neighbors milking barns and we got to see the whole operation. That was very impressive. The time had flown by so we headed home to call it a day, and to receive our last surprise. It was two bags of candy that are typical in The Netherlands. What a great time we had spending the day with these special people.



Keep it rolling

Scott and Sarah



Day 80                08/06/23

 The fun was over and we arose to a nice breakfast and It was my favorite, oat meal. These guys could not have been more thoughtful and caring. We shared hugs, said our goodbyes and pedalled into a three hour rainstorm. It was probably the coldest day we have had so far and our shoes were soaked once again. A gross detail, but because of all the dampness my shoes are taking on an aroma that I am afraid will render them to the trash heap by the time we end our journey. I could wear them home on the flight and almost guarantee there to be an empty seat next to me! Hey, maybe I'm on to something.


It would not be a good ride if we didn't have a few wrong turns. It always seems to be the case that the person who chooses to help us is the only person in the country who cannot speak our language. Sarah is so patient with her communication as I am wiggling the bike to give her the hint of, "let's move on." Yes, I could grow in the area of patience but when it's raining, I would rather take my chances looking for the right path than getting soaked.


We made it to our destination in Enspijk. After purchasing some groceries, we were welcomed by our hosts. We were the second guests to stay at their newly remodelled Airbnb. What a great job they did on finishing and decorating the place. If you ever make it to Enspijk, Holland, this is the place to stay.


It looks like we may get a break in the weather tomorrow. A welcomed change as we have been wet for three weeks now. Let's hope the weather forecast is correct. Oh, we would be very grateful!



Keep on rolling

Scott and Sarah

Rode 34 miles




Day 81       08/07/23

We started off the day with clouds and a little sunshine in the mix. It was absolutely soul lifting to wake up to a day where you may not get rained on. We pedalled through many small villages that were drop dead gorgeous. The properties were meticulously maintained and there seemed to be nothing out of place. Mainstreet Disneyland would be a good comparison.



We pedalled along levees and canals that were full of birds, cattle, sheep, deep green grass and plants of all kinds. You could really let your eyes stretch. Every once in a while you could see one of those iconic wind mills. We did not really stop for a break today because we did not trust the weather report. Sure enough as we were within a mile of the campsite it started to rain. Thankfully we made it to the campsite and ducked under a gazebo just in time. It didn't last too long and it gave us time to eat lunch before we set up our tent.



We decided to go out to dinner where I had beef tacos and Sarah had sweet potato tacos. Both were good but I couldn't call it Mexican food. We did a little grocery shopping and headed back to the campsite for bed. The landscape of The Netherlands has a raw beauty of its own. That has made this portion of the trip delightful.



Keep on rolling

Scott and Sarah

Rode 37 miles



Day 82           08/08/23

Let's just say this day was a fantastic day. The sun was out among mixed clouds but it was shining. We rode though the most well kept homes from one village to another. Today we had two ferry rides but they were short and beautiful. There is so much water and blue sky offset by the vibrant green grass that your senses explode on overload. We both commented on how fresh the air was and the amount of wind. Yes, we both must be pretty slow on the draw because it never dawned on us to put the two together, wind and windmills.



Speaking of windmills they are really special to see. I can remember all the way back to my grade school days seeing them in encyclopedias but now they stood before me in all their glory. We stopped at one windmill and while we were standing there, a horsedrawn carriage passed by which made the moment a memorable one. At Kinderdijk we found a large grouping of windmills. It was wall to wall tourists which make it a challenge to navigate the bike through the crowd. I was in need of a rest and found a shoe into which I planted my seat. I suppose you could say it was a shoo-in!



The Netherlands has the most incredible biking system. They really go out of their way to accommodate bikes with their own roads and paths. You see parents all over the place toting their babies and little children with the older kids riding alone. We came to a staircase that had an automatic escalator that takes your bike up the stairs. Unfortunately, there was no one there to explain how to use it so we muscled it up half way before we figured it out.



Riding into The Hague was our real first experience with bicycle traffic. To say the least it was an experience. It felt a little like car traffic in Mexico at some points. Bikes coming from all directions and no apparent road markings at some intersections. So we just went with the flow and rolled the dice. Coming around one corner we came close to a head on with a bicycle delivery guy but it was all part of the adventure.


We arrived at our downtown hotel (The Park Centraal Den Haag) and checked in. Once in our room, we had to pull out all of our camping gear to air it out because we are beginning to experience some mold issues caused by the relentless rain. The good news is we are heading into a drying out period.


As we left the hotel to get groceries, I kept telling Sarah to look three times before crossing anything. Foot traffic, car traffic, train traffic, bicycle traffic and motorbike traffic are not to be taken lightly. When a car stopped for us, I gestered to them a thank you and right then I heard Sarah in a loud voice yell, "HONEY!" I had half a second to react but I pulled back just as a motorbike swept by me. That would have been my luck, riding 3000 miles around Europe only to get smooshed by motorbike. Just so you don't misunderstand, these are not motorcycles but more like mopeds that are allowed to ride on the bicycle paths. Anyway we made it back to our room for the night safe and sound.



Keep on rolling

Scott and Sarah

Rode 41 miles



Day 83 08/09/23

Today we just spent time sightseeing. The Hague is a very beautiful and interesting place. We visited the seat of the Dutch Parliament (Binnemhof) and walked around its beautiful grounds. Sadly, they are in the process of doing an archeological excavation so we were prohibited from seeing all of it.



We walked through the streets and squares to the Peace Palace. It is here that the U.N.'s International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court are housed. We spent the time listening to a presentation and came away with a good understanding of what they do. No political commentary here, I will save that for willing ears😀.



We finished the day making our plans for the week ahead and went out for a nice meal at a fantastic Italian restaurant.



Keep on rolling

Scott and Sarah


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