Tag Archive | The Netherlands

Learning Dutch

My Bike

Dat is mijn fiets – That is my bicycle

It is hard to learn a new language at 45 years of age.  Especially  when all of the locals want to speak English (why I don’t know).  In Germany, I had to learn German, while most Germans spoke English it was easier to break ice if I spoke Germany.

Now that life in the Netherlands is mostly settled and routinized, I decided to start learning Dutch.  I am starting with Rosetta Stone .  It is new to me.  Most of my education from learning a foreign language including German involved textbooks, classes and lots of red marks across my assignments.  Yes I am a slow learner.

I am enjoying the program, I spend about 30-60 minutes every day going through the lessons.  It has been fairly intuitive matching pictures with words and using context to understand, but I feel like I am acquiring basic knowledge that I did not get in a traditional class.

Coffee

Even more exciting the terms coffee – koffie and bicycle – fiets are already in the second lesson a huge motivator.

I think  Rosetta Stone will help me learn enough that I will be able to communicate in a day to day basis – shopping, touring, eating out and basic conversation with the neighbors.

I know the more Dutch I learn to more I will enjoying living in the Netherlands for the next five years.

Heller Route or Hellerrondje

On Sunday, a nice warm day (40 F), my wife and I decided to try out a hiking route, the Hellerrondje, that starts about a mile from our house and goes for about two miles, making it about a four mile hike from our house.  The hike was relatively easy.  The only difficulty was the sheer amount of mud along the route.  My wife put her trekking poles to good use traversing the some of the muddier points.

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Three Lands Point – Belgium, Germany, Netherlands

Last week I received an e-mail from long time friend and bicycling buddy that he would be in Germany flying in from WV, USA and planned on coming to visit me and Crystal for a couple of days.

Kerstallendorp Schimmert or Christmas Village Schimmert

Several days ago, I saw a new sign posted as you enter town “Kerstallendorp Schimmert” .  Of course not speaking Dutch, I had no clue what it meant except it had to do with Christmas. I went straight to the all knowing Google Translate and got a translation of:   Christmas Village.  Instantly I envision something […]

Top 12 Events of 2012

Over the course of the year I had a lot of adventures and experiences, alone, with Crystal (my wife), with family and friends. It was both a rewarding and challenging year.  Below are probably the top twelve events for me. 

Being Passed

I am not a fast biker.  Mostly because I am busy looking around at my environment to take pictures, so I am not concentrating on pace.  In the end I get passed regularly.  Right now it appears to be by groups of bikers in club uniforms, so I just shrug it off.

I always try to have my GoPro cameras running. Yesterday, I got passed by an an old lady which one of my GoPros decided to film.  Usually fog or dirt or battery prevents any good shots.

I added the jet sound, but you can hear in the background comments made by a a person in a biking group (they were just getting ready to start).  that I was passing as the old lady passed me.

Morning Tour – Sunday, 21 October 12

Taken with iPhone

Castle Rivieren, taken with iPhone

Sunday mornings have rapidly become my opportunity to explore by bicycle the scenery, the sites and routes in and around the area I live.  It has the advantage of less traffic and great lighting for pictures.   I get up at first light which right now is at about 0745 and just ride a random 15-20 mile loop. My goal is to stay on the country roads and not the main roads.  While the main roads all have bike paths on them around here the scenery is just not as interesting.

All week, we have had 60-70 F weather (13-20 C) with a bit of fog in the morning, so it was a pleasant  morning ride.  I headed East and South which took me through Aalbeek, Nuth, Klimmen and Hulsberg.

Harvest is in full swing now so the roads and paths are rough with farm debris, which makes for a dirty bike at the end of the ride.   Along the ride I saw piles of harvested sugar beets and potatoes.  Naturally all over there are the fall colors on the trees.

Along the ride I came across the pictured castle, outside of one of the little farm villages.  It looks like it has a couple of towers and a moat with a stone bridge.  The castle appears to be converted into a restaurant. Unfortunately pedaling early, I am not able to explore the grounds as it is closed up, but nice to look at from the road.

This area that I live in and ride through is fascinating to me as I run into castles everywhere and is littered with history predating the US.   My personal interests lie in I like biking, history and exploring new places combining all three makes its a great ride.  If there was coffee involved it would have been a perfect ride.

I guess I will have to come back another day to Castle Rivieren for a coffee!

Out of Coffee Beans

Image

Three Choices and My Coffee Maker

Today I ran out of coffee beans for my automatic coffee maker.  While living in Germany, I knew where to get good quality coffee beans.  In the Netherlands I haven’t a clue.  Our local DECA (Commissary) only has ground coffee, so I don’t even have Starbucks off the DECA shelves until I can figure out the places to by good espresso beans.

Actually one of my great motivators to bicycling is finding cafe’s, coffee shops, local coffee bean sources…..

So, I pedaled over to the local grocery store C1000.  Not surprisingly it decided to start raining on my ride over.

I am not sure what a C1000 it would be equivalent to in the States.  In Germany it is like an Edeka.  In essence it is a basic grocery with fresh produce, bakery, in store butcher and simple food goods.  They also have some coffee.

The coffee shelf in the store is dominated by pod and instant coffee (blech on both).  There is a limited coffee bean selection.

The choices are limited to the C1000 brand and the brand Douwe Egberts.  Douwe Egberts is a Dutch brand, I see their advertisements on local Dutch TV and I would equate them to like the German brand Jacobs.   Most of the coffee shops I have visited are serving their coffee in the Netherlands.

Douwe Egberts offered three types of beans, Rosso, Dark and Extra Dark.   The packaging did not say the mix of Arabica to Robusto just some grading on the roast (pictured on the right on the bottom of each package) and some adjectives to describe the the taste.  Not reading dutch I not really sure  what to buy, so I bought all three different kinds.

Tomorrow I am going to try the red package “Aroma Rosso”  described in Dutch as “Evenwichtig & Rond”, Google translate says that means “Even and Round” more likely I would guess it means balanced and smooth.

I guess my new goal in my rides is to find a good local source for coffee beans.

Bike Ride to the Netherlands Conclusion

It has been about a week since I completed the ride. Recently I have been immersed in transitioning details to our new residence in the Netherlands. Internet access has been dodgy at best, so maintaining this blog and other net based communications have been difficult.

I have started to feel like I have mostly recovered from the ride. I am back out jogging in the mornings.

Here are the things I learned:

Google Maps is both hero and villain in my trek. I utilized google maps to plot out my ride as a series of towns that I should check point through instead of printing off maps. This was intended to coincide with the way Germany uses direction markers to indicate which towns you are heading toward as opposed to following street names. It mostly worked. Google Maps failed to synchronize well with the conditions on the ground. Example one of the towns I should have gone through was Bischofsheim as indicated on Google Maps, however the traffic signs noted it as Frankfurt-BF (or something like that). Until I figure out the discrepancy, I did a lot of turning around. It happened a lot on the ride between Seligenstadt to Montabaur.

iPhone Google Maps doesn’t differentiate between paved, gravel and mud roads. When I would get to a point that I was not sure which direction to go as the German traffic signs indicate several possible routes, I would consult iPhone Google Maps. More than once I ended up on sand, gravel or mud as I pedaled. I was truly grateful I did not have a flat tire.

Topography. I need to do a better job of researching the topography. I know in hind sight that most of the hills (small mountains) I climbed were probably avoidable. There were only two points where I think I could not avoid huge climbs – Out of the Rhein and over the Spessarts. Climbing the Spessarts was an issue of limited time to follow the Main river valley from Wuerzburg to Seligenstadt would have added an additional day that I did not have. The climb out of the Rhine to get into the Eifel and then to the NL additionally was unavoidable, but not as significant as the Spessarts.

Gear. I am not sure if I brought too much gear or not enough. I think using BoB (my bike trailer) was the right thing to do. I was much more stable without a lot of gear heaped on my back rack.

Lodging. The lodging met the need except in Montabaur. I stayed at a castle there that doubled as a huge conference/symposium/campus where business and universities would meet for retreats. It was quite nice.
I used booking.com and my criteria was availability and customer rating/review. The other places I stayed ended up being on the edges of town so it was not easy to get into town and explore a bit. I think I will try TripAdvisor next time. They spam my Facebook account enough to deserve a chance.

The Ride itself was great. I am glad I did it. In fact as look back on it, I find it a bit unbelievable that I did.

If I did it again or something along those lines, I think I would have broken the daily distances down to about 50-60 miles. At 60 miles I would have only added one day and at 50 miles it would have added two maybe three.
The advantages of shorter distances would have allowed a little more exploration of the towns I visited, more time to take pictures, take impromptu stops, and take a more leisurely pace. In all truth, I usually had the first forty miles of each day done by 1300.

That is about all I have to say about the trip. Would I do it again? Probably not. Not because it was too long or anything like that, but if I was to plan another 400 mile trip, I would explore somewhere else. Along those lines I am thinking England or France for the next big tour. Anyone up for joining me? You can put some of your gear in BoB.

Enjoy.

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