I've placed my bike in the central part of the car where the little seats fold down. The conductor just checked my ticket but did not ask me if I'd paid my bike supplement (which I hadn't).
Now the train pulls into the grim but architecturally interesting central section of Rotterdam. Monolithic black towers, steely Bauhaus office buildings, cranes moving slowly, clanking noises. At this point the train is almost empty. After Zwijndrecht, the train traverses a broad waterway.
|Brabantse Land-route - Day 1 (ANWB map)|
Running late as usual. True, it's been an eventful day (earlier, I received a card from the immigration authorities proving my right to reside in the Netherlands till July 2011), but I never seem to get started in earnest till around 3. Fortunately it still stays light till around 8:30.
|The journey begins: outside Breda|
The route has me following a canal, then dropping into the Bos Wachterij Dorst de Vijf Eiken (oaks, as Peter the barman and carpenter told me last night). Right off, this turns into a gorgeous stretch, with the big canal on the left, a horse trail on the right, then fields of high corn. There is no wind but a cool dampness beneath the clouds. I then turn into woods, no doubt plantations, of evergreens.
Op de licht geaccidenteerde Vrachelse Heide groeit naaldhout (evergreens) en bevindt zich veel natuurlijke opslag van eikenhakhout (something of oaks) ...
That bit from my ANWB guidebook goes on and on ("old-fashioned prose," sneered Bas, my Dutch conversation teacher).
|LF11B is a long-distance route|
I've been riding through the woods for the past couple hours, now and then crossing a highway or traversing a burg (Dorst), and suddenly I come out by a duck pond ringed by sandy beach. No swimmers on this mildly cool day though. No anyone. Pine trees line the banks, though the slope where I sit on a tree trunk has been cleared - recently, it seems, judging by the multitude of trunks, around which raspberries creep. A pair of women let their little dog run around the opposite bank as the sun finally breaks through.
These must be the sand dunes mentioned in the ANWB guide:
De kliene zandverstuiving De Zandkuil herinnert aan het te intensieve gebruik van de grond.
Let's see: The small sand thing called De Zandkuil is related to the intensive working of the ground (here).
|A good shepherd|
|Consumerism is ...|
I had to ride to Kaatsheuvel after dark. Outside Holland, this might have been an ordeal, trying to find a house in an unknown town 6 km away, dodging traffic or getting lost. But the bike path from Dongen-Vaart to Kaathuevel was well lit and other cyclists were using it. In fact, in the mildly cool evening, listening to Grant Green ("One More Chance", a Jackson 5 cover), it was a most pleasurable ride. When I got to the west end of Kaatsheuvel, I found a good map of the town and easily worked out a route to Loonsevaert, where my vriend lived.