Friday, April 1, 2016

Guidebook research III: Ooijpolder and the Liberation Museum

16 -> 48
Love this stretch east of Nijmegen. You're riding along a dike (with other cyclists, the occasional auto) between the swampy banks of the Waal river and meadows and pastures. A great birding zone with islands in the swamps for nesting. To the north is a renowned nature walk, the N-70.

(original date of this entry: May 25, 2015)
Café Oortjeshekken
48 -> 49
A similarly green section skirting a bend in the river but more rural, pastures, wildflowers, old farmhouses with thatch roofs. Only past kp 49 (toward Ooij) is there a significant lake. Views past horse pastures to the river plied by cargo ships. About 100m past kp 49 is the gezellig Cafe Oortjeshekken,  popular with walkers and cyclists, serving homemade soups and pies. The terrace spreads out before a long thatched-roof farmhouse. All bikes parked here are high-end Kogas, Treks, etc. It is near the access point for the lake/recreation area known as the Bisonbaai with a 1km stretch designated clothing optional. If you lived in Nijmegen, on a hot day you could cycle there, go for a swim, then come up here for refreshments.

49 -> 99 -> 66
This bit seems to be a favorite of Martin, my vriend op de fiets host in Nijmegen, though it does not seem so glorious to me as the ride along the Waal. Popular with walkers. It is the rural lands around the community of Ooij. Meadows carpeted with yellow flowers, lily pads scattered upon swamps, herds of cows grazing around the banks. The ride is perfect, a gently rolling dyke-top strand of asphalt, which gives you the sensation of sailing through these pasturelands. Finally emerge by a road at kp 66. This, according to Martin, is where I enter Germany.

German signage.

67 -> 68 -> 84 -> 28
This section less interesting but it did have the note of interest of passing through Germany. The knooppunten signs were different, a red square with a white circle. The route followed was separated from the road by a creek. Then the village of Zyfflich and then a bit of confusion coming into Wyler. Only Holland seems to get the strategic placement of the signs. Back across the border, the landscape seemed duller, agricultural, and I started climbing. Reached the Bevrijdingsmuseum (National Liberation Museum) in Groesbeek by 2:30 pm. There is plenty to look at and I'll have to compete with tour groups.

Unforgivable: German occupiers confiscating bikes.
The museum felt rather pokey and lo-tech, "interactive" as defined in 1975. A lot of war memorabilia, like the History Channel. Still, one point was driven home: a lot of people died here during that debacle referred to as World War II. The roll call, at the "Dome of Honor," which looks like a pavilion at the '65 World's Fair, is endless. These guys were stepping off a cliff when they enlisted. Not that you'd be better off if just happened to live there ...

28 -> 31 -> 30 -> 8
On the road from Groesbeek back to Nijmegen. I've ducked into the Groesbeekbos forest for a break. As I am sure to arrive back in Nijmegen during rush hour -- no bikes allowed on the train -- I'm in no hurry. I'm sitting at the edge of a sort of playing field, deserted now, with closed sheds at either end. A weathered wooden post stands alone in the right part of the circular pitch. The highway drone is behind me, punctuated by the random howl of a motorcycle, still audible at a great distance. The birds chirp at each other from the surrounding trees. If nothing else this trip has really got me cycling into all sorts of natural places. I am fully appreciating this spring in Holland. Continued ... 


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