Category Archives: Netherlands

North Sea

This blog post marks the end of my second stint of cycling in Europe, this time through the UK and Ireland. Unfortunately I missed out on the western and northern parts of Ireland, but the island proved to be larger than I thought and, moreover, I was running out of Summer.
Wales, on the other hand, was a thorough success and I liked it immensely.

sleeping

Not missing sleeping for around three months on roughly 0,7 cm of foam.

coffee_ritual

But I will miss my little coffee making ritual…

From Calais I cycled back to the Netherlands along the North Sea. This led me through French Flanders and the town of Dunkirk which was important in the Second World War and where, since then, nothing ever happened, even though some people are still waiting,  and then, after that, Belgium.
During my first episode of cycling I had toured through the central part of Belgium and it now struck me how short the coastline was: not more than 65 kilometres, much of which, it must be said, is an urban eyesore. Many apartment blocks were obstructing the sea views and casting long shadows over the wide boulevards. A tramway transports people along its entire coastline from De Panne in the south to Knokke-Heist in the north making it the longest of its kind in the world.
And that is something.

The last bit took me through the Dutch province of Zeeland. It wasn’t quite Wales, but then, it was a lot easier to ride the flat expanses of former islands and connecting dams and bridges, than the cliffs of Wales.

It was this province that lent its name to the country of New Zealand. Not long after it was discovered by Abel Tasman, in the 1640’s, Dutch cartographers marked the island on their maps as Nova Zeelandia, possibly because of the impression it made of being a jigsaw of islands and sea.
When he sailed east from Mauritius he and his crew managed to spectacularly miss the entire landmass that we now know as Australia and hit first Tasmania and later New Zealand without ever setting eyes on the continent itself.

Next: North Africa.

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Cycling again

In  June I visited friends and family in the Netherlands. To do this on a budget I decided to get my bicycle operational again.

Cycling in the Netherlands.

I rode 10 kilometres through Germany which I thought was quite enough. It took me through the Reichswald where Otto III, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, was born. His mother, Theophana, daughter of the Byzantine emperor, was married to Otto III and gave birth to the future emperor when she travelled through the forest. It wasn’t quite Constantinople, but it had to do.

German_border

The infrastructure for cycling in the Netherlands is superb. From there it is all downhill.

This blog post will be short due to shortages of electricity and wifi… Only 3% left. Got to go!

Next entry will be from England where I am cycling at the moment.

 

 

In transit

In Istanbul I bought a cardboard box and took apart my bicycle. It wasn’t easy to fit everything in the box, but in the end I managed. To transport the panniers, I bought a big floppy bag that would suffice to get my belongings back to Holland. Up till now I have had many questions regarding the weight I was carrying and I never knew an answer to those as I’d never taken the trouble to weigh all my baggage. When I was checking in, I was a bit anxious about the weight as my ticket gave me an allowance of 25 kilograms plus 8 kilograms of hand baggage. To be prepared I had brought small bag in which I could reallocate some items so as to take maximum advantage of my allotment. When I put the big bag on the scales I was somewhat surprised to learn that everything I owned (with the sole exception of the bicycle and the clothes I wore) weighed less than 20 kg…

In transit

In transit

After arriving at Schiphol airport, I colleccted my bicycle from the odd size bagage handling sytem and managed to get it on an airport trolley. The cardboard box was close to falling apart and I needed help from a custom officer to tape the box up in order to avert scattering the arrival hall with bicycle parts.

It was wonderful to be two days in the Netherlands to visit family and friends before I flew to Nepal. Even though it was November, it was still beautifully green and I deeply enjoyed the autumnal smells… It rained a lot however, and with my batteries recharged, I was eager to get back to the airport to travel to warmer environs.

Teddy bear in Doha Airport

Teddy bear in Doha’s Hamad International  Airport

In Qatar I had a long layover and when strolling around the new Hamad International Airport, I found a huge sculpture of a teddy bear which had his head stuck in a big table lamp. It was made by the New York based Swiss artist Urs Fisher and was bought by a member of Qatar’s royal family for 6,8 million dollars. If that sounds like a lot of money, bear in mind (pun intended) that the new airport was built at a cost of 15,5 billion dollars…
It is made of bronze, weighs close to 20 tons, is 7 metres high and is suitably ugly for a modern international airport.

After another uneventful flight I arrived safely at the mayhem of what is otherwise known as Kathmandu International Airport.