So many places to see, so many we just can’t pronounce! You think you’ve got it right but a sea of blank faces and lack of understanding make it obvious that you’re either insulting someone’s mother or just plain swearing. Dutch really isn’t very easy to do anything with. And they all speak English so perfectly making us look even more hopeless.
We’ve got a few words, like ‘hallo’ and ‘dank u’ sorted now plus ‘dankeval’ and ‘alstublieft’. Not too impressive eh? Got a couple more weeks to work on it although I can’t see much chance of improvement.
After a few cycle rides last week we’ve really gone for it the last few days, no more little trips out for us. No way Hosé. Got all excited on Monday and decided to do a big round trip to see the villages of Wyler, Beek, and Berg en Dal. It started off all sedate and relaxed but once we’d left Wyler we hit the mother of all hills. It went on for thousands of miles! We thought Holland was supposed to be flat. Well no-one told Beek and Berg en Dal. Eventually pushed the bikes to the top then immediately found ourselves flying down another steep one into Beek. This was obviously beer time so after a quick Jupiler we pushed the bikes back up (again). Did a lovely flat ride through the forest towards Malden before making the disastrous decision to try a different route back to Groesbeek. Wonder what we found? Another stupid hill.
It wasn’t as bad as I’ve made out, in fact it was a brilliant day where we did around 37km of cycling and pushing.
Wednesday saw us going off to Wijchen (go on, pronounce that). Our host, Tonia, gave us a lift up and we spent the day exploring the beautiful moated castle and quaint little town. Lots of walking and getting a little lost. I don’t think you can ever say you’ve truly visited a place until you’ve got lost there, that’s when you see all the good stuff.
Obviously an afternoon pitstop in the Cafe Anneke on the square involved another couple of small beers and a bun. Very nice. Bit more exploring before Tonia picked us up and brought us back to our Garden Room in Groesbeek.
There is a famous long distance walk in the Netherlands called the Pieterpad. It’s over 300 miles long and stretches from Groningen in the North all the way down to Maastricht in the south. Hundreds and hundreds of walkers do the walk every year and Tonia’s bed and breakfast is right on the route, at the end of stage 17. She gets a lot of walkers staying and we’ve met quite a few in the past weeks. On Wednesday we met Yolande and Wilm who were doing the Pieterpad and shared breakfast with them the following day. It’s so interesting just to chat to people of other nationalities and share experiences and conversation about their travels, that is a partly what this JWalking lark is all about.
We decided to pop into Nijmegen on Thursday to check on trains and tickets at the station and just to have another little pedal around. Well it turned out a bit more serious than that. We ended up doing a round trip of over 45km or 28 miles to those non-metric types. A long long day and we both have achy legs (and other bits), but it was so good plus we got back to dinner with four Belgian walkers so more unexpected friends.
We are now a couple of weeks into our little trip and it seems like a lifetime ago that we left the UK. Our lives suddenly seem so relaxed and stress-free, it is exactly what we were hoping for. Last thought ……………we haven’t watched any TV since we left Maidstone so that’s 3 weeks television-less. The last time either of us had that long not watching TV was when we were toddlers back in the mid 1960s. Makes you think eh?