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15 day Dutch cycling trip 22, post (?) Covid, post Brexit

15 day Dutch cycling trip 22, post (?) Covid, post Brexit

Old Jul 14th, 2022, 09:52 AM
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15 day Dutch cycling trip 22, post (?) Covid, post Brexit

Some background details you need to know

P&O Ferries

P&O ferries used to have a great reputation in Britain and provides a lot of the major ferries to and from the UK to other ports. It was never well organised and felt a little old fashioned but like an old jumper it was familiar. It offered low carbon routes off Great Britain for people in cars, bicycles and on foot. In 2022 they decided to shave local laws and remove all their British and Dutch/French/Irish staff and bring in slave labour third world cheap staff to operate their ferries. The ferries then failed multiple safety tests as the training mechanisms were just not up to it and a boycott for most of the routes has been in place. Only the Hull to Rotterdam has reached utilisation above 50% this summer and that is because there is no alternative to their ferry.

Holding our noses I and Mrs bilbo booked a 15 day trip from Hull to Europoort at the end of June.

Then, just before we set off the railways went on strike, so we had to drive to Hull city, park securely for 16 days and cycle to the port.

Fietsknoop is the app which allows you to plan from knooppunt to knooppunt. A knooppunt is a post with arrows pointing in different directions and Numbers (the Numbers are the clever bit) and the Netherlands is covered with the things. Cycling around requires you to use this tool, or a map and while a bit clunky is a fantastically useful app. You are never lost with a knooppunt.

Cycling in the Netherlands. The country decided in the 50s that stuffing children into cars and taking them to islands of pleasure was a dumb idea and it would be better to let kids have their own safe form of transport from an early age. So, cycles rule! They have many, many cycle paths, independent of the car system, they have super rights on roads and cars are the least important vehicle in cities and towns, leaving them to have maximum rights on the motorways. This means that unless you are a speed freak you can cycle safely in normal clothes, no helmet and feel safe all day long.

Rooms. We booked rooms a couple of days ahead, using a mixture of booking.com, airbnb and www.bedandbreakfast.nl. Airbnb offered us washing machines and a chance to clean clothes. We normally stayed in little places but one night did end up in an 8 story giant hotel which was the worst of our stays.

Money, not only is Brexit between the UK and the Netherlands now but the currency is different, this year we used “Revolut” to hold our sterling and Euro in both a physical card form and a Google wallet form. Great tool and very low cost. On the other hand the Dutch don't like credit cards and one supermarket didn't take Revolut bu nearly everything else worked and with a little cash (from a previous holiday) it saved us the usual “bank-charges”

Advice. Well first we have done this before many times and secondly the good people of Fodors stepped up and offered us lots of advice, thank you so much, you know who you are.

Bikes. 35 year old utility bikes we use every day. So battered that no one should want to steal them, many parts have been 3D printed as the we have replaced parts as they fail, 18 speed, two small panniers lined with rubbish bags in case it rains. Yes we rode them onto the ferries and out the other side.

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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 10:46 AM
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Looking forward to this .
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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 02:57 PM
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Hi bilbo, I'm on board for the bike ride as well!

Lavandula
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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 10:44 PM
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You are correct about Dutch not "liking" credit-cards. They use pinpas it is just a debt card. It is the way the majority of everyday transactions are done. If you need cash there are a lot of geldautomaat (ATM)machines.
There was the alternative ferry from the UK from Harwich to Hook of Holland with Stena Lines.They are less controversial.
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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 11:19 PM
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Thanks I'm aware of Harwich, but I'm in Yorkshire. Traveling the length of the UK twice is not carbon low.

The Dutch also don't like many debit cards. I know.
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Old Jul 15th, 2022, 02:03 AM
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One of the greatest thrills in life is the adventure of cycling onto a ferry , crossing water then cycling into a new world.

love it , waiting for the report !
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Old Jul 15th, 2022, 03:53 AM
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There is also of course the DFDS ferry from Newcastle if you won't to be pedantic, but from much of Yorkshire the Hull ferry makes the most sense P&O or not.
The Dutch like debit cards, their Pinpas, and pay pretty much everything with it, often contactless. It's the credit part of credit cards which scares many Dutch even though most of the Dutch CCs want payment in full at the end of the month. Finding an ATM can be a challenge nowadays, even in quite big towns, so it is just as well nearly everywhere accepts a Pinpas.

Anyway looking forward to reading your adventures in Cloggieland. Maybe one of these years you will cycle up this way.
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Old Jul 15th, 2022, 05:21 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post
Thanks I'm aware of Harwich, but I'm in Yorkshire. Traveling the length of the UK twice is not carbon low.

The Dutch also don't like many debit cards. I know.
Nothing to do with the Dutch. Just sometimes the machine cannot communicate with the issue bank to find if there is enough money on the account. Have you seen the figures of just how many carbons are polluted on shops per nautical mile?
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Old Jul 15th, 2022, 07:01 AM
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yes to ship carbon, but far fewer compared to flight. I do "offset" by tree planting and yes I'm well aware of doubts about tree offsets.
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Old Jul 15th, 2022, 07:08 AM
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Eager to follow this, and already impressed.
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Old Jul 15th, 2022, 09:19 AM
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kind..Day 1 Getting off the ferry worked well, the Filipino staff had help us rope our bikes out the way and after the first surge of cars, we followed the motor bikes down the ramp to the EU. Where I got my passport stamped (first time in 40 years). Getting out of the ferry area is easy and we followed the sign towards Brielle to find (54). Interestingly the route to 54 was still being changed by an umleitiung. We last toured this way about 10 years ago, so good to see they aren't rushing. The route involves some very safe cycle paths past large industrial units, often gushing steam but we also note the start of the wildlife, not least the wildflowers which have been left to grow everywhere.

54 actually leads onto a narrow strip of land beside the Brielse Meer and you pass through an incredibly thin long nature park only ruined by a gold course and a camp site where we ate our first apple pie and coffee. Americans, close your eyes, “Dutch apple pie is the best”, Americans open your eyes. Anyway, the day continues in the country, we cross many bridges and another umleitung. BTW a great deal of effort is taken into helping cyclists deal with re-direction, so you might have to ride a bit further but the effort is put into giving you a new route and communicating it.

After 40+ kms and a lot of 'burbs we end up in a converted garden shed (think very posh, with kitchen, bathroom, but still a shed) in Smitshoek (which appears to be basically southern Rotterdam) and a host who points out all the local useful sites and leaves us to it. We end up buying a take away salad from the supermarket and so to bed.
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Old Jul 15th, 2022, 11:33 AM
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Omleiding, bilbo, Dutch, not German

We stayed n a garden shed on our way back from France. Contemplated converting ours
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Old Jul 17th, 2022, 12:45 AM
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Tapping my toe, waiting for the next instalment
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Old Jul 17th, 2022, 01:48 AM
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heti, life keeps getting in the way of plans ;-) there will be installments today
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Old Jul 17th, 2022, 01:59 AM
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I'm looking forward to them.
Hope the interfering life things are good ones. Keep cool up there in Otley over the next few days!
Even here on the Wadden coast where the wind always blows we are due 35C on Tuesday, and barely a breeze.
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Old Jul 17th, 2022, 02:13 AM
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I've spent the last 5 days installing a routing table in our club maker-space, exhausting and I yet more to do, while our recent wildflower planting is going to suffer at 35C. 'Nuff said.Day 2

If Day 1 was really about getting out of Europoort and into the 'burbs of Rotterdam, then 1) it was a lovely day and beautiful scenery 2) Day 2 should be about the start of the real holiday. Today https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windmills_at_Kinderdijk and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schoonhoven

The Netherlands has a lot of internal ferries (but goodness knows how many bridges), lets face it Venice is like a little Netherlands. Most ferries cost about E1 to E1.50 a person+cycle and run either when full or to a timetable. Debit cards are accepted. Ferries are mainly diesel or electrical driven though we did use one cable ferry. Access is always easy with drop down ramps at the front/back or side. But sometimes the staff want you on the left and sometimes the right, you just watch the locals.

The weather forecast is rainy so we went for a reasonably early departure at 9:15 and headed off for a ferry point that would take us to Kinderdijk. These are at Ridderkerk but we just know it as a number (the holiday became a series of me singing out the next number to Mrs Bilbo and she shouting back “what” or “where is it”). The single person managed ferry takes us aboard and waits for the Rotterdam Ferry to turn up to load up to cross the water. Off we go and everything works and we get off at the entrance to a dijk where there are 27/29 windmills.

Naturally it looks like you have to pay to get in "Tickets this way" but a cycle path goes through the middle so we cycle around, trying not to ride down tourists who keep stepping in the way and enjoy a windmill life style. The many windmills were stuck here to drain a big swamp and are interesting for about 10 minutes, but the remaining swamp is a beautiful place.

Satiated we catch another ferry north to Krimpen (or 62), which looks a bit dead and we set off East for Schoonhoven. The route is along a high dyke and it begins to bore as stomachs begin to empty. In some countries there would be signs to restaurants, here they are few and far between. We have to leave the dyke in a town and found an interesting restaurant staffed by mainle disabled people. To give a flavour of this the waiting staff were 3 people of whom two were visibily disabled mentally. The three took an order for tea and cake using tiny menus that we wrote on (tick box style) and a little later the food arrived.

Leaving this sanctuary it starts to rain, it rains a lot, with horizontal winds, for an hour and we get to the lovely Belvedere hotel looking out onto the river/canal. Bikes are safely secured in a unused bar. The Belvedere is all about Art Deco but the cafes down at the ferry stop looked better for food so we ate there.

A little history. I guess you know all this but the Netherlands had to free itself from the Spanish Empire back in 16??. This took a fair bit of time and since most of it is under sea level or river level the control of water is critical. Schoonhoven is a good example of a fortified town, designed with a star shaped canal, raised earth/brick walls following the star shape and the town hunkered down behind the walls. As part of long term defensive strategy the government organised these towns and other fortresses (like a town but smaller) into lines of defence that could be flooded. During the next few days we are going to visit lots of fortified old towns. The idea of these towns is that the military could flood all the local land by adjusting sluices and the people would be safe in their towns.




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Old Jul 17th, 2022, 02:31 AM
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Before we leave Schoonhoven we have to talk about Silver and Carillons. Schoohoven is famous for its silver work, and there are still a fair few silverworker's shops in town. Plus they have a Carillon.

If your idea of fun is listening to this stuff https://www.facebook.com/carillonschoonhoven/
While if silver is your thing https://zilvermuseum.com/?lang=en

Since my idea of music is Jazz and R+B while I like to make silver pieces I had to pass but both are a reason to visit.
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Old Jul 17th, 2022, 03:01 AM
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Scoonhoven gate and walls, in the foreground is the Netherlands' smallest museum with a nice moss roof

Last edited by bilboburgler; Jul 17th, 2022 at 03:46 AM.
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Old Jul 17th, 2022, 03:03 AM
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Day 3

We like to book into a AirBnB every 5 days or so to wash our clothes and take a forced day off so had a good look at where we wanted to have a day off. Using the wonders of google we decided that Den Bosch (real name s'Hertogenbosch but there is not enough phlegm in my mouth to pronounce that correctly) would be best and we booked that. We then looked where to go to stay between Schoonhoven and there. We chose Leerdam.

The forecast was dry and sunny and only a few ferries on the way, should be easy. Of course we were not aware of coming“Omleiding” or infact “toegestaan” (allowed) or another word beginning with B which meant much the same, thank goodness for Google translate.

Basically the state has a programme of dyke maintenance and they close the bike paths that we chose to use, in this case adding a 15 km detour to our route (plus 2 ferries) but it was a beautiful day. Along the way we just bumped into Heusden https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heusden the wiki site does not do this place justice so just search on google and look at the star shaped defensive structure while the wildflowers are just spectacular. Without the Omleiding we would not have bothered.

Despite all these problems we arrived at the Post Hotel (a chinese restaurant with rooms) early for our planned 5pm entry. What to do? Leerdam is home to the National Glass museum http://www.nationaalglasmuseum.nl/ , so we cycle off there, for roughly E10 you get to see some great stuff and a lot of shade from the sun.

Supper; was the cause of a Bilbo family argument. Initially we tried to get into the all-you-can-eat restaurant (fully booked) then we stumbled through the streets rejecting every restaurant we found until we found a chain one (image of a bear comes to mind) down by the docks (really pretty docks, with swans, coot, geese) and this is a good time to have a niggle at Dutch menus.

Dutch Menus. 1) Why do so few have their menus outside the restaurant? and 2) why do so many menus consist of basically 8 items, Burger, Vegetarian Burger, Satay Chicken, Salad, Pasta, Fish, Schnitzel, another Fish? On the other hand Dutch beer is getting better. After years of Heinikin and Jupiter you can now get Belgian beer and yeast or wheat beers and even some immature IPAs. Thank goodness.


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Old Jul 17th, 2022, 03:05 AM
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Wildflowers on cycle path
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