This is part of the third section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Belgium
9/4/98 Realizing Easter would close travel agents and the need to get airline tickets to Australia we hurried through to Amsterdam. This trip we have arranged to leave the motorcycle in the Netherlands so we purchased an Amsterdam return ticket, much cheaper than booking the ticket in Australia and within the hour our tickets were available for collection. The first thing that hits you about accommodation in Amsterdam is the price, the dearest so far for anywhere, the second thing is that the place is full over Easter and the third is that all the hostels smell the same. That sweet smell of that Indian plant marijuana has permeated every corner of every unofficial hostel over the years that you can just about get high without smoking. We were lucky to get two beds in the official hostel just out of the city. Amsterdam is a great place for cyclists, literally thousands of bicycles, mostly old ones that look like the one I had 25 years ago, ply cycle paths around the city and over the canal bridges. The city trams compete with the few remaining cars and pedestrians need to watch for all wheeled transport including in-line skates. The centre is thriving, bustling with buskers and street performers, alive with a great diversity of nationalities, cultures and freedoms. Of course we visited the famous "red light" area with available flesh on display for purchase, scantily dressed throbbing and bobbing behind shop front windows interspersed with sex aid shops. Blow up dolls, dildoes, whips and bondage gear, movies, live sex shows, etc.
10/4/98 Now the fourth capital city in 8 days and over the first impressions that Amsterdam is famous for, we head to the Heineken brewery tour. For $US 1.00 (donated to charity) you get a tour of the old brewery, a one hour promotion of the world's second largest brewer, and learn a lot about beer making, plus get to drink almost as much beer as you can or want in about an hour for free. More cultural and more depressing the Jewish Museum with information on Amsterdam, the Jews and the Second World War followed by the Torture Museum. Gory implements used to gain information and confession from people during the Middle Ages and more recently.
11/4/98 Common interest peoples around the world, having a common bond, are more inclined to be friendly and helpful towards each other. Today we headed into northern Netherlands to stay with people we have never met, who have offered to store our motorcycle for 6 months during our return to Australia, welcoming us into their home because of a chance encounter with their daughter and partner in Australia who were also travelling the world by motorcycle. Morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and breakfast. Our first house in five months and first real home cooking in five months. Relaxed and generous hospitality with common conversational interest in motorcycle travelling.
12/4/98 Today is the 500th day of travel since starting this trip. Off over Afsluitdijk, the 30 km long sea dike built to stop the low lands from flooding at high tide and during storms as half of the country is below sea level. This also seems to be the windiest place in the Netherlands with modern wind turbines along the coast. Atop the dike looking across the North Sea you can barely stand for the wind and icy cold. Then down the coast to the tulip area, flowering now in vivid colours, acres and acres of reds, yellows, pinks and combinations of colours. Keukenhof is the pinnacle, the worlds largest garden, 80 hectares of bulbs, 6 million of them, timed to flower over an eight week period surrounding Easter during which 800,000 people will visit, most of whom seem to be here today, being Easter Sunday. The indescribable vastness of colour and types of tulips interspersed with ponds, waterfalls, grass and trees almost justifies the entrance fee. Settled for the night in Arnhem, again a hostel due to the price of accommodation in the Netherlands.
13/4/98 On the seventh day even God rested and with the drizzle turning to sleet then snow in the Netherlands highlands, well at least a few metres above sea level, we also thought it a good idea and rested. Catching up on reading in the small dorm room seemed much more enjoyable than riding in the sleety (shitty) rain.
14/4/98 A different day weather wise was born. No sun
but we are beginning to accept that in Europe in spring a no rain cloudy
day is a good day. Hoge Veluwe is the largest national park in the Netherlands
and was donated for the use of all by a wealthy industrialist in the 1920's.
This area of moors, heath, drifting sands and forest have kilometres of
cycle paths with the white bicycles in the Park provided free. The fact that
overgrazing in the middle ages caused the sand drifts of Europe just like
overgrazing in the 20th century caused sand drifts in the USA and Africa
was fascinating. This is the first park I have been to where they are trying
to turn back nature time, reintroduce plants and particularly animals to
have it as "original" as possible, creating micro habitats for the wildlife
and still allowing human observation participation. Finishing the day in
Germany at a motorcycle travellers digs.
Move with us to Germany
, or go to our next visit to Netherlands
Story and photos copyright ©
Peter and Kay Forwood,