The best thing about my hotel in Nunspeet: The animals next door

Since tourist season has started - I saw images of the 10s of miles long traffic jams in southern France on CNN - I should be happy just to find a room, but last nights three star room was the smallest of he trip and there was little, except the park next door with really cute animals, good about that hotel. Tonight, In Hilversum, I'm paying too much for a very basic room, but at least the owners are friendly and helpful and the hotel is located right in the middle of town. This is an interesting town. It is apparently the media center for the Netherlands. The owner said most of his business is foreign folks coming here because of the media businesses here. I don't know much about the town, other than the center is a major place for consumerism and that the Ferrari dealership has at least five Ferraris in stock. I saw them riding into town. That's the most new Ferraris I've ever seen in one place. There must be lots of money here...

A typical city section of bike path in Ermelo

A typical country section of bike path between Ermelo and Putten
The city image is blurred by the bumpy brick path

I left Nunspeet about 9 AM and retraced my route from the end of yesterday before continuing on towards Ermelo. I figured that the bike path which I had been following would continue along the major route which is towards Utrecht. It did, at least as far as Amersfoort, the biggest city north of Utrecht. I wasn't able, after several tries, to find the bike route to Utrecht, so I gave up and headed east on a route I could find. One more example of bike route hell: it is only ten miles from Amersfoort to Utrecht, but even with a lot of help from the folks at a bicycle shop in Amersfoort. I couldn't get there. Sheesh!

It started raining about 10:30 and rained for about two and a half hours. After that it it cleared up and then light rain started again at about 4 PM. I put away my camera at 10:30 and never took it out again. The rain, as well the lack of anything special to photograph (I should have taken a picture of the Ferraris!), meant that I didn't even think about using it again.

In Nijkerk, where it was raining pretty heavily, I stopped at a bakery that already had eight or ten tourist's bikes around it. I was laughing about the folks sheltering from the weather as I pulled up, and several of them spoke with me. This evening, in Hilversum, I met some of the same folks. I also visited with a Dutch tourist on a recumbent on the road. I've seen a few with a very laid back riding position - almost horizontal, and under seat steering. I asked him where it was made - in Holland - and we talked, among other things, about how well suited Holland was for recumbents. Where hills are almost non-existent and wind is alway a a factor, a recumbent works well. His also had both front and rear suspension, a good idea on these bumpy bike paths! As in Germany, the paths are pretty good between cities, but bumpy in most citites and towns.

Speaking of bikes, I just heard a train going by and that reminded me of the bike parking lot at the train station only two blocks from me. It had at least 1,000 bicycles parked in it! And this is not an especially large town, I'd guess 30 to 40 thousand people live here. I saw similarly large bike lots in several other towns today. Lots of folks are riding their bikes to the station and then taking the train to work in the bigger cities. I also saw lots of utility riders in the towns. Since it rains a lot here, folks, all kinds of folks from kids to little old ladies, ride their bikes rain or shine.

I stopped for lunch in Amersfoort at Subway. I couldn't resist the chance to eat at a Subway and it was in a building where I could park my bike out of the rain. It was good, if a bit expensive. McDs prices are pretty close to the same as in the US, but the two Subway I've visited had higher than US prices. Shortly after I left the Subway, I ran out of bike path, so I headed over into the old part of town looking for a way to Utrecht. I wandered around a bit and finally found an open Bike Shop where I asked for help. Since the were busy and I was in no hurry, I browsed their stock and, if they took Visa, I would have bought some new bike shorts. The ones I have with me have just about had it. The pads are fine, but the fabric is decomposing. I think this is a UV exposure problem and it has affected all of the shorts I've bought in the last two or three years. I have some older shorts which don't have the problem despite lots of use. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to try some Dutch shorts, but the shop didn't do credit cards so I couldn't buy the shorts. Come to think of it, UV resistance would not be a really important feature for shorts worn here!

The shop did provide me with detailed instructions as well as printed maps so that I could ride either through Utrecht or more or less straight west. I had the time and I would have like to have routed through Utrecht, but the bike route to Utrecht disappeared, so I choose to follow the other route. even on that route I had back track a bit to find the route and, in at least one case, it took me several extra miles which, on the road, I could have easily avoided. at the shop I talked with the fellow who was helping me about the problems I had with the bike routes. Both he and the owner were amazed that I would ride on roads. He claimed to have been hit too many times on roads in other countries, including France, but conceded that that had only happened while riding in big cities. I agreed that riding in big cities in any country was likely to be much more dangerous than riding in rural areas on in small towns, and he agreed.

Tomorrow will be my last riding on bike paths in Holland. I plan to ride to Uithoor in the morning - it is a tourist town with "authentic folk" and all that sort of thing, then into Amsterdam for the afternoon, and then to the Airport. I will probably spend the night at a very overpriced airport hotel room since I expect to have to check it at about 5:30 on Monday morning. The weather forecast is good for tomorrow - the guy at the bike store in Amersfoort said the recent pattern was rain every other day - and I'm looking forward to being a tourist.

Another shot of the animals

And this little guy whose antlers are almost as big as his body
These are seriously cute animals!

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