I left Arnhem on Tuesday morning and headed south to Njimegan. I didn’t have a specific plan as to my next destination, because the way the roads and hostels worked there was no clear halfway mark between Arnhem and Eindhoven. I figured I’d wing it.
South of Arnhem I was following the bike path signs. On all of them “Njimegan” (the word) was spray-painted out. I was worried about his until I asked a local cop, who assured me that Njimegan had not in fact moved; it was just somebody being an asshole.
So I followed the path and eventually got to Njimegan. Pretty town, with a nice central area, and the way the town sprawled outside the centrum made it feel almost American, which was weird and nice at the same time. It’s about the size of Eugene (about 150k), some older buildings and ruins. Overall if I were living in the back ways of Holland this would be a good choice.
The ride from Njimegan south became progressively more difficult. The weather really picked up and I found myself riding into 15-20 mph headwinds and occasional rain. Conveniently enough, the wind was coming from exactly the direction I had to go, so at least I always knew when I was on the wrong road.
I decided to sleep in the woods to save money and because the nearest town was a ways off. I found a likely spot in a park and started setting up. Unpack the bike, unroll the tent, fight the wind, which is picking up. Get the sleeping bag out, get the ground leveled, start setting up-CrashBOOMrumblerumble….
Roll up the tent, stuff the crap back in the bags, get the sleeping bag, put it all back on the bike….
I finally gave up at a town called Uden and looked for a place to stay, just as it started pouring. I found one at a pub called “Looney’s,” which was advertised as an American-style pub and was as close to that as you probably get in Europe, sans Americans. Actually one of the bartenders was an American ex-serviceman who’d been living here for 5 years. I spent a couple hours talking with him and the Dutch/Malaysian couple that’d met while studying in Michigan State. We mostly discussed more cultural differences, plus some legal differences. I found it interesting to discover that 1) you can own firearms here, including assault weapons, but there are a lot of restrictions about where and how you use them, and 2) the consensus with these folks was that the legal system sucked. That last was in contrast to the attitude I’ve run into elsewhere, but the examples of drunken driving resulting in manslaughter getting one-year prison time were compelling. Apparently driving your BMW through a hoard of bicyclists while drunk gets you one year. Beating someone senseless who’s invaded your home gets you five years. Hmmm…..
Looney’s was nice, clean and generally good for the money by Dutch standards (Hotels are much more expensive and less common here). It was around 66 guilders, which included breakfast. More than a Motel 6, but still not bad, especially with the bar attached.
This morning I left Uden and headed down to Eindhoven. Immediately I hit 20-30 mph winds and horizontal rain, all of it right in the face as it was coming from exactly the direction I was going. What Fun! What Adventure!
I arrived in Eindhoven 3 hours later soaked to the skin and miserable, thinking that whoever had thought this bike shit up, they was
But I’m making it work. One of my Dutch friends is trying to hook me up with some local family members of his, which should give me at least one night to stay. I’ll figure the rest out one way or another hopefully. The help I’m getting from the Dutch I’ve met has made this trip a lot more feasible and fun than it would have been otherwise. Traveling to Europe would have been much harder without the Europeans. And there wouldn’t be nearly as much to do.
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