I think that’s the name of the town I ended up at. By random luck the town I had designated as the objective for day one turned out to have a hostel nearby. The hostel is in the middle of the countryside about 400 meters from the road (that’s about a third of a mile, lame-ohs) in a park on the edge of some fields. There are few houses around, not many cattle, and about 100 screaming German children.
I don’t know what’s up with this. It’s like the Germans decided to start exporting their young to keep everyone else occupied. Maybe babysitters are in short supply, so it’s just more cost effective to gather up a whole school of these little vermin and huck them at the nearest country that has annoyed you while placing them in the charge of someone whom you hope never to see again.
Anyway, as the fires from the burning Dutch farmhouse nearby subsided, the German children became bored and went off to try their hand at cow tipping or something, so we were left in peace. I took a shower and cleaned up, went to get a 21-guilder dinner (21 guilders!?! That’s, what, $9….! Hmph. Guess it’s all in how many of the damned things you have in your pocket).
Now I’m sitting here in an outdoor cafe and telling you about my experiences. People keep asking me why I’m taking the trip as much by bike and foot as practical, and I keep telling them that it’s the only real way to see a place. And it’s true. All humor aside, I spent all of today wandering by bike and bad map around the Dutch countryside. I’m sitting at a place that would classify as a resort to most Americans if it were in the US and I’ve paid, total including dinner and drinks, about $35 for it.
Yesterday I met a German couple at a coffee shop. This was a Real Coffee Shop, which just sold coffee and had been started by a Seattle woman. I live there.
Anyway, this German couple and I ended up sitting together because there weren’t enough seats. This is common in Europe, and it’s actually really cool because you end up meeting people that way. The German couple was on holiday. They live in Cologne and highly recommend that I visit, especially if I’m interested in high-tech work. They’d be happy to get together for beer if I make it down there, and think I’d like the culture more than most of Germany outside of Berlin. The male of the two is writing his thesis on e-commerce and Internet business and why a brick-and-mortar company might be more successful than a pure e-com company. I gave him info on some companies that were now producing computer games with no retail outlet aside from the Internet, and explained why they worked in contrast to his expectations.
We then spent an hour discussing immigration issues in Germany and parallels from American history, German and American schooling and business environments, how each country raises (or exports) children, etc.
Sitting outside a Dutch friend’s squat house drinking beer and watching the tourists go by.
Dancing to the rising sun on a beach.
Having dinner at another Dutch friend’s place and talking about ex-girlfriends and how we look at relationships.
Meeting another history freak and chatting until 6 am.
Making plans to meet a girl I’ve got a thing for at a party that I’ll be riding my bicycle 6 days to reach.
Seeing from grass level where my granddad fought in the war.
Talking to a 15-year old Dutch kid about why he doesn’t like Germans or Belgians, but thinks baseball is cool.
And I’ll never forget the nice Russian Mafia guy at the dance club. The one who talked a thousand kilometers a minute about how great it was to be in Amsterdam where he didn?t have to kill anyone.
Man, you don’t do this shit from a tour bus.
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