Looking Back on Holland
Updated: Jun 1, 2018
(Oli) The Netherlands were tough. Short daylight hours & ice cold headwinds that chilled us from the inside as we breathed. Not what we expected from our flat steady 'easing in' country of choice. In previous posts we've mentioned our first night saviours Karin & Marten who, from a place of extensive bicycle-touring experience, lovingly despaired at our naivety & took us in for the weekend. The pair fed us up & sent us on our way with warm words of advice for the year that lay ahead of us. (Ruth) We left the warmth of Karin and Marten’s house in Ottoland in favour of icy headwinds. We were headed for Culemborg, where we’d reached out to a Warmshower’s host. We left not knowing whether or not they were free but figuring we’d figure it out later if they couldn’t host us. We pushed against the wind with our heads buried into our scarfs and tried to cover some distance. It was such a relief to see the notification on Oli’s phone that Reinier and Annemiek could host us that evening. They told us that they had to go out but that they would stash a key for us. We were humbled at how kind and trusting people could be, especially as we were new to Warmshowers and only had one review on our profile. It was putting a lot of faith in us. We wound round the streets of Culemborg looking for their house. It was peaceful and clean town next to the River Lek. As promised we found the key waiting for us and we let ourselves into the home of two people we’d never met before. ‘Welcome Oli and Ruth’ was stuck on the door. We took off our shoes and crept in, still half-expecting to meet someone inside. The house was immaculate. Like something from a catalogue or an Instagram post about ‘hygge.’ There were more notes placed around the living room. One said ‘hot tea’ with an arrow that pointed us to a teapot on top of a tea light. Another note led us upstairs to our bedroom where there was fresh towels laid out for us. After a day riding in the cold, I couldn’t think of a better sight. I had a bath and lay there thinking how funny it was to be so comfortable in a stranger’s bathtub. I also couldn’t help but yearn for a home like this myself one day. I figured Reinier and Annemiek were about the same age as Oli and I from the wedding pictures that hung on the living room walls. They seemed to have everything together and I wondered if this trip was a reckless pursuit. Perhaps we should be saving for a house or a wedding or a nice bathtub of our own. I was too tired to take this thought very seriously and joined Oli downstairs to indulge in the novelty of having a TV. We felt slightly embarrassed when Reinier and Annemiek came home to find us dozing on their sofa in front of ‘P.S I love you.’ (Oli) My memories of the Netherlands largely feature the sensation of coming in from the cold; of being made cosy by smiling & intrigued hosts. I also remember frosty waterways, windmills, herons, & the fact that after eight days riding we still hadn't been rained on. Due to our slower than expected pace we found ourselves cycling into early evening darkness every day, but with stunning winter sunsets twinkling in our handlebar mirrors. Our final day led us from Nijmegen and into Germany.