On yer bike

Day 1 was a looong days (deliberate plural). Door to door it took 34 hours to get from the Gold Coast in Australia to Wassener in the Netherlands. When we eventually went to bed, it was about 7AM body time, 45 hours after leaving home. That trope about falling asleep the moment my head hit the pillow became a reality.

The Tall One had big plans for day 2 despite my suggestion it be a rest day. It is worth noting that due to what turned out to be her misinformation campaign, my expectations about Dutch weather had me anticipating something worse than Melbourne. But it is magnificent! Sunny and warm.

Weirdly, it doesn’t get dark until about 10:30pm and it happens so slowly, there is no dusk, as such. I can only imagine what time it gets dark in late June.

group of parked bikes in netherlands

We’ve all heard about the bicycle culture in the Netherlands, I can report it is absolutely true and I am wondering if it is at all possible to make real in Straya.

Bikes are everywhere, every road has a bike path, there are bicycle specific traffic lights. It is fantastic! The photo above is pretty typical, bike racks are outside every shop, in the streets, all over the place. Notice the bike path, well away from the road, leading into the roundabout.

bikes in bike path at roundabout Netherlands

Even in the roundabouts , bikes are kept separate from cars and cyclists are treated with care by car drivers, unlike in Australia where there is a certain level of contempt.

Another common sight…

children in buggy on front of bicycle

As the woman said, “this is very Dutch”. There are all sorts of variations on this for carrying kids, goods, whatever.

But it gets better. There has been a shift in the culture here where what were once manicured lawns are now allowed to go wild, encouraging insects and therefore, birds. There are definitely a lot more insects here than at home, though as Tall Girl pointed out, they are much bigger in Straya and like everything else, liable to kill you.

long grass in road verge

Just before we left home, I had floated the idea of letting the front lawn go, maybe I will soon have less to mow, at least I now have some ammo to justify my idea.

white flowers growing in grass

We have a couple of bikes and today set off to a beautiful protected area along the coast known as the dunes, because…there are dunes. There is a constant stream of cyclists going in both directions, I can’t quite figure out if they are commuting or just going for a ride. I suspect it is a mixture of both. It is only about 10km to The Hague, the capital of the Netherlands, which is at the end of the substantial and well signed bike path along the coast.

black water birds with white faces sitting on a nest

For those who don’t know me well, I hand-built an earth walled house about 30 years ago. So seeing these beautiful thatched roofs was so wonderful. If only I could see one being replaced or repaired. Though my Dutch isn’t close to good enough to be able to have a conversation…yet…if ever.

house with thatched roof

Banks are extinct here in Wassener for some reason. There literally isn’t one left, which makes getting some cash hard. Apparently the rest of the Netherlands isn’t the same, so not sure what is going on here. But oddly, despite no banks, ATMs are critically endangered, the closest is a 10 minute ride and there is only 1 in each of the local shopping areas.

Finally, I would like to thank big finance for making the exchange rate 1 Euro = 1.5 $AUD which makes calculations easy.

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