Saturday, March 30, 2013

Amsterdam-Noord pt 1

Windy and overcast. As I boarded the Buiksloterweg ferry across the IJ gray clouds bunched up over the Overhoeks tower. Next to it, the white plastic EYE winks at the lady with the parasol on the tower. The crossing takes about three minutes. I take cover in the inside deck. The ferry casually dodges tugboats, pleasure craft, cruisers and great big barges transporting logs and slag.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bike-ulele tour, part 6

Del Rey in Amsterdam
Here I am in Valkenburg Park, Breda, having bid adieu to Yvonne Lewin and Leilani Kurnick, aka Del Rey. Del has got on a train to Rotterdam where she will change for Hoek van Holland and catch the ferry to England. I could get on the train to Amsterdam but I see no reason to leave the fabulous Valkenburg on a day like today. Truly it is one of the great parks of Holland. Gently rolling landscape, sunlit hillocks where couples lounge,  single jet of water, unadorned, as the park's fountain.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bike-ulele tour, part 5

Tilburg wheels
I had been concerned that the dog odor would ruin my breakfast here in Tilburg, but it seemed to subside as we had our boiled egg, cold cuts, cheese, jam and bread. Inneke joined us. She told us that we were her very first vrienden op de fiets. I was surprised to learn that the homes of the cycling friends were not rated or inspected. Inneke's place was ok but not up to the cleanliness standards of most other vrienden. I liked Inneke, an attractive woman with short gray hair. She is some sort of new age consultant and also caregiver for old folks. She's into saunas and we traded our favorites.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bike-ulele tour, part 4

Rainy Tilburg

Today Del Rey and I cycled from Den Bosch to Tilburg. It was another day of inclement weather though there were periods of sunshine. When we awoke, the rain was coming down hard. We had breakfast at Tiny's house on Jekerstraat, the usual bread and rolls and hard-boiled egg, cheese, cold cuts and jam.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bike-ulele tour, part 3

The Di Blasi, ready to roll.
This morning in Tiel, Del was determined to return to Amsterdam. Then we would take the train back to Den Bosch tomorrow, where we've got a workshop scheduled, and I could get my presumably faster Gazelle. "But that seems like a surrender," I told Del, since we could easily ride on to Den Bosch from here, under 40km. And I had purchased the folding Di Blasi for the trip and it worked ok, if not optimally, and thanks to Del's guidance, I'd fashioned a handy luggage transport technique: suspend the backpack from a wooden rod under the seat and use the sternum strap as a support on the seat post. By placing the bungee cords across the rear rack, the pack would be pushed back and not interfere with pedaling. We got a broomstick at a household items shop on Albert Cuypstraat in Amsterdam, and Del asked the guy at the bike store nearby to saw it to size. At the same store I purchased a nice handlebar bag.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Bike-ulele tour, part 2

Del Rey strums outside Oberhausen station. 

Today we embark on the first stretch of our bike-ukulele tour. We spent the night in Voerde, Germany, the "Ruhrpott" region which is known for its coal mines. Yesterday Del Rey did a workshop with the Ruhrpott Uke Club at a café called Fabrik 14 in the city of Oberhausen. It looked like a lefty coffee house with vintage posters for political rallies and a big black bust of Lenin over the bar. The barman a sad beanpole. After the workshop they had a song circle and played such mind numbers as "Leavin' on a Jet Plane" and "City of New Orleans." Del and I sat in a corner and drank pilsners.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Bike-ulele tour, part 1

On the ICE to Germany. Passing metro stations: Amstel, Spaklerweg, Van der Madeweg ... my old route. I'm in the front of the train, Del Rey's in the next car. Del makes up her mind about things. She's headstrong, which is how she got where she is today. Her Brompton folding bike is tucked under the seat as we embark on our summer '12 international bike-ukulele (bike-ulele?) tour.