NL Planet Blogs

First year in Nederland — July

Posted on 13 Aug 2009. By Lizelle Smit. Filed under Lizelle in NL

July in the Netherlands is a wonderful and serene time. Many people are away on holiday, meaning the streets are calm and shops are quiet. Since my partner is on holiday we decided to use the days to explore our region by bike.

bikes

It’s been three months since I got the bicycle and from the very wobbly start it has now transformed into my main mode of transportation. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would trade a car for a bicycle. But it works brilliantly and I’ve realised that between public transport and my bicycle I really don’t need a car.

Every morning I set off on my bike to do boodschappen. This wonderful word means something like running errands – buying bread and milk, going to the post office and picking up the daily paper. And the best of all is that everything fits neatly into the side saddle bags on the bike.

Successfully riding a bike means following the same basic rules as a car. For example, keep to the right-hand side of the road, yield to cars when you come to those weird-looking shark teeth signs in your lane and stop for pedestrians at crossings. This is something I failed to do until a very vocal old lady gave me a stern talking to at a crossing. Something else I soon realised was to keep my mouth shut against summer bugs and to maybe not have that third fluitje (small glass of beer) at the local pub before heading home on my pedal-powered wonder.

veluwe-signOur region of Wageningen / Bennekom is full of bicycle routes. There are regular mounted maps everywhere that indicate your location with pointers to the various routes and how long they are. The trick is to find just one of these maps and to start cycling to your next knooppunt where you will you find your next map. It’s a bit like following a treasure map – you never know to what jewel the route will lead you.

Following these routes we have stumbled across a wide array of amazing sites which we would never had experienced had we not been cycling. We discovered a bronze-age burial mound in the woods near our house. We ran into an extensive exhibition on Zimbabwe stone sculptures. We’ve cycled an amazing bicycle route next to the Rhine River, over the Grebbedijk, and then turned a corner to find a wonderful pannekoekenhuis hidden in the woods. We rode through acres of cornfields dotted with Shetland ponies and gazelle and picnicked in the harbour in Wageningen. All the while riding side by side in the beautiful summer sun.

Being so free and carefree in this wonderful country is one of the most unexpected and brilliant feelings in the world. And to think, to really experience it I had to learn to ride a bike.

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