‘Just’ one day out of my holiday in the Netherlands
It’s 5 a.m. Still a little dark. After a steaming hot cup of dark and strong Dutch coffee we sneak out of our cozy hotel. John, Alfred me and the guide don’t start our motorbikes so we won’t wakeup the rest of the group. Just the four of us are crazy enough to get out into the chilly morning before sunset to do the optional Sunrise-drive.
During the first hour the fog makes place for a beautiful sunrise. Orange (nearly purple and red) colors filled the sky. And I can feel the first warmth of the sun. I need it! Looking at my odometer I see we only covered about 30 km. Time after time I’m surprised: we drive at a more than reasonable pace, but we cover no mileage at all. It must be the very narrow winding roads. Again I wonder how even the little Volkwagen Rabits can pass each other on these “one lane” paths. I’m happy I left my Ram Fan at home. For sure it would get stuck between the big oaks at both sides of the road.
7.00 o’clock: breakfast time at a Hergberg (this is a kind of restaurant from the middle ages). Hot coffee, tea, eggs, dark bread, cheese. Cheese. Wow, it has a strong flavor. Much stronger than our cheddar cheese. ‘Krentenbrood’: bread with raisins topped of with cheese. Dutch breakfast is okay. More than that. I don’t miss the cereals (ones in a while you see them here also). Yesterday our guide Gaaijo (we call him Kyle because the G sound is too hard to pronounce) gave me a kind of oak meal for breakfast. No sugar is needed he said. It was like poring concrete! Jak!
At nine o’clock we are back at the hotel and the rest of the group is ready to leave. But first thing first: a quick cup of coffee. Together we drive towards the “Hoge Veluwe”. Hollands biggest National Wild Park right in the middle of the Netherlands. It is very beautiful but also small. Let’s be honest: Yellow Stone wouldn’t fit into the Netherlands. So it is big (to them) but small (to us). The Dutch leave their cars at the entrance and take a free(!!) bicycle. I think doing this the park feels like it is huge.
Picture right - Doing it like the Dutch do
We go inside on our motorcycles to have a stroll around. To cross it, it takes about 40 minutes. In the middle we see the ProHolland bus. Whenever we see this bus by now we know a surprise is waiting. Coffee with ‘stroopwafels’ this time (cookies with syrup). Question: why o why is there a museum of modern art in the middle of this National Park?
At noon we have lunch at ‘Hotel de Wereld’. Kyle tells us this is the actual place where the Germans surrendered after WWII. So it must be a very special place for the Dutch. Everywhere throughout the country you can see reminders of the war. Yesterday we saw the bridge ‘too far’ at Arnhem. And tomorrow we will visit Margraten. The biggest American cemetery in the Netherlands. I think 60 years ago it was hell over here!
After lunch most of us go from Wageningen (Hotel de Wereld) by boat across the Rijn. Now we have to do a boring part of the trip Kyle told us. He is nuts. Finally we are able to do some American style motor riding: shift to overdrive to cruise for an hour. It is busy at the highway and by busy I mean: every 20 meters a car! Just go by the flow they told us.
Some members of our group drive on their own this afternoon using a Garmin navigation. Dirk (“the luggage driver”) did some nice work last night. He put a different route into the Garmin. Hope we will see them back tonight…….
Picture right - The Germans surrender here.
Factories on the left. Houses on the right. This suppose to be one of the most beautiful counties in the Netherlands? Is it like having an industrial landscape on the left and the living quarters of the workforce at the right site. The Dutch mountains? I don’t see them. Where is our coffee-stop: I think I’m going to like this strong stuff……..
Picture below -To mow the verge of the road they use………..
At four o’clock we take the exit near Maastricht. Right in the very south of the Netherlands. Immediately I understand what the Dutch mean by “the Dutch mountain”. Actually these are only little hills but after cruising 3 days through a landscape which is flat like a pancake, these look like real mountains!
It is just about 30 minutes from the highway before we arrive at out next sleeping place: an old watermill. Before we arrive we spot the ProHolland bus again. Dirk is taking pictures while we are driving by. ‘De Geulhemermolen’ (a watermill) looks good from the outside. I really like the terrace in front of it. It is a little strange at the inside. Everyone has his own room but the shower is at the hallway. Strange but this must be something Dutch I guess.
Picture below - Arjan in action.
While riding we often stop for a few minutes. Kyle tells us something we see. But today at the highway pulling over wasn’t possible. I’m looking forward to take a look in the road book. ProHolland supplies us with a kind of road book which contains pictures of every interesting spot we pass by during the day. It also explains what it is. Another great thing: I don’t have to worry about taking pictures. The picture-bank of ProHolland is free to use after our trip. Back home I will enjoy my vacation again selecting nice pictures.
My third day of my ProHolland vacation was great. Honestly! It was well balanced. Individual enough to enjoy my own time and space. At the same time the group thing is always somewhere in the background, which makes travelling so much easier. Their (Dutch) way off enjoying time ads sometime special to the trip. No rush, no obligations, no pushing. No nothing I guess. Not a day is boring, every hour something new. Now I understand why the slogan is: Holland small, think big!
Take a look at the website, it’s great too: www.proholland.com
We, my husband and I, joined the try-out-trip from ProHolland in July 2009. For sure we come back another day to look at the progress ProHolland made during their first year.
Article by Agnes and Arjan Slagter
Picture right - Guide Kyle……
Picture below - ...... in action