Het Fietserpad, 5 days cycling through Holland

Trip Start Mar 08, 2007
Trip End Jul 23, 2007

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Fietserpad (cyclist's path) is a 574 kilometre-long bicycle route from south to north , straight across the Netherlands, We cheated and started in Nijmegen as that is where we were staying, we also had only 5 days , not enough to do it all and enjoy the trip. .We will finish in Groningen, appr. 370 km. from Nijmegen. The route follows small bicycle paths as much as possible, avoiding roads that have cars on it. The route goes almost entirely through scenic areas, polders, fields, forests along canals and rivers. It comes through Gelderland, Overijsel, Drente and Groningen ad twice visits Germany.I also have to tell you about "Vrienden van de fiets" a wonderful organisation where people rent out their room for the night like B&B, the prices are very reasonable and the places are close to bike routes and for people that walk or ride.Everyone we tried was wonderful and interesting.
We go along the river "Waal" to Millingen, a route well known to us as we did this several times while living here. We crossed the river by ferry at Millingen, and went right to the German border were the Rijn enters the Netherlands. (TOLKAMER,LOBITH) did a bit of Germany, Hoch Elten which was tough as the hills there were quite steep. Went through s'Heerenberg , where there was a beautiful castle.We had lunch and further again.  At about 7 o'clock we got to Aalten where we booked a B&B on a farm.
As it is summer there are no worries about getting somewhere late, it is light till 10.30pm. We found a Chinese take away and decided to sit outside at the farm and watch the swallows while talking to some fellow travellers on the same bike route.
Next day after a big breakfast Dutch style (Bread and cheese and meat and an egg, ) we started later then planned. And within the first hour stopped at Bredevoort a very nice small old village complete with church and windmill and known as the book town with lots of bookshops and stalls. Again the trip was very varied with riding through Vennen with wooden bridges, lots of heather, little forest tracks, crossed the river Dinkel several times and made our way to Losser where we booked our next night. We stayed with the family Berton, a couple in their 70 who recently cycled from Holland to Santiago de Compostela, very inspiring! We bought some meat ,salad and yoghurt at the supermarket and had dinner in the middle of town on the village square watching the sun go down.
This proved a tough one. The route was nice as always but easy to get lost and offcourse that's what happened. It is not easy to follow a route from instructions by book specially without a kilometre counter that really is a must for this sort of trip. We had to go along a river, The Vegt, but it warned you that that was difficult after rain so we didn't, we also got lost in Ringe and Gross Ringe. We had a huge rainstorm that lasted for an hour but we had a good shelter with some other people. As always when meeting people it is fun talking with them about holidays and we are aleways suprised how many people have visited Australia.We als had a fight.....(the only one) to be expexted when lost but Thank goodness we finally picked up the route again near the Coevorden Picardie canal. Before we got back to Holland we went through this German landscape full of "JA KNIKKERS" I am not sure of the English word but they get oil out of the ground. Germany still exploits it, the other side of the border Schoonebeek stopped as they reckon it is not worth it .We got to our accommodation which we booked the night before and again the people were friendly and everything was OK . This time we had dinner at the local restaurant in the centre of town, sitting outside . Trying to make a phonecall I got a German provider, that is how close it was to the border.
A 90 km day through lots of forests which was good as it was quite windy. The people we met at our last B&B  Rinus and Wilhelmina kept going past or we went passed them which was fun and always a good excuse for an extra stop. We stopped to inspect the HUNNEBEDS, enormous stones put together were they buried their dead, Its lots of years before BC. It was a long day and beautiful as it was we were glad to get to our place and thrilled it was right on our route. Zuid Laren is quite nice and they had a very good Italian restaurant with nice pizza but that's all really.
Not much to go, even so we managed to get lost.We are just a bit short of time as we have to be home tonight. We would have liked to go right till Pietersburen. Anyway now we had time to see a bit of Groningen which is a wonderful old town, a bit like Nijmegen but as there was no damage during the war it kept its original features better. Martinie Toren is the highest church tower in Holland, there are canals and beautiful parks and the station is absolutely fabulous.
TRAIN BACK TO NIJMEGEN, 3 hours which took us 5 days on the bike.
We stopped to see the 4-daagse last day . They were very unfortunately as the just had a huge thunderstorm. The 91st Four Day Marches were walked and finished by 34000 people.This is a huge event every year with also lots of festivities in town itself as well every day and night. Dinner at night with the family and packing the next day.
Sunday 22 July back to Sydney  After a good flight with Korean Air we landed in Sydney at 6am and it was cold. However during the day the sun warmed up the day , we reunited with our 3 sons and it wasn't so bad to be back
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