Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Twente 3.3: Enschede


Change of plans: an extra day in Enschede. Good move as it's raining and Enschede is an interesting place: the capital of the republic of Twente. People are noticeably friendlier here. They seem to enjoy themselves.

(Original date of this entry: Aug 6, 2016)
That was alright with Elsbeth & Warner, my gracious hosts. Their place is on the Knalhutteweg, south of the center, right beside the viaduct overpass and behind an electrical pylon. It's a smartly designed homey haven ensconced in an old schoolhouse. My room is at the top with dormer windows and a comfy twin bed and mandala spread. The showers are downstairs in a row in the old installations.

Warner & Elsbeth, friends of the cyclist

kp 7 -> 8 -> 11 -> 44 -> 93 -> 45 -> 80 -> 81
Despite a spot of rain, this is turning into a lovely fietstocht. Enschede is a substantial town so it took a while to leave the road network but I was generally routed down leafy roads with sparse traffic. Toward kp 45, crossing a road I go off course but--through astute map reading and app use--found theknooppunt thread again. At kp 45 I stopped for lunch--seeing a sparse but periodic passage of cyclists, mostly of the old couple variety in synthetic jackets--then got drenched by an intense shower. Now the sun glints off the puddles on the trail and the trees sparkle in a field here at De Meene campground.

Hugging the borderline

Right where I left it

The rain let up finally and I tried to follow the route out to the German border and round back via kp 96. Just as I reached kp 78, trying to decide whether to take the long way round, I realized I had no camera. I frantically rode back to kp 81, then 80, and miraculously found it, on the post where I'd rested it while attending to my rear fender which was scraping the wheel. It was already after 6 and I decided to head back, see if I could find dinner in Enschede.

(Aug 7)
Elsbeth served me a wonderful breakfast of blueberries, gooseberries, yogurt and granola, various cheeses, good coffee with frothy milk, on a handsome polished wood table. Had a chat with both Elsbeth and Warner. Among other things they told me:

• The residential area north of Enschede, which I passed through on my way in (see photo at the top), had been the site of a fireworks factory that self-destructed in a gunpowder catastrophe. Architects were invited in to rebuild it. I nothiced that, unlike the usual drab residential row of identical brown-yellow brick structures that each house had a unique design.

• Warner raises bees. He has 30 or so boxes of them, beside which is a stack belonging to a Syrian refugee couple. The bees produce from June to August or so. Warner gave me a complimentary jar of honey.
Elsbeth's studio

Land art 
• Elsbeth is a prominent graphic artist. Her prints are stunning compositions of natural subjects, such as trees, birds and rocks. A large canvas, as of the sunflowers, can fetch a hefty sum at an art market in Amsterdam. She's a prominent member of the art community in Enschede, which was home to one of Holland's most famous artists, Jan Cremer, who is also a poet and penned a notorious 'dirty book' in the 60s. Elsbeth also does 'land art,' of which Andy Goldsworthy is a famous exponent. They are typically arrangements of twigs and branches and they are left and displayed at the site of their making and erode into nature over time. Not only is their house for cyclists and hikers but also shelters artists-in-residence.

kp 42 -> 40 -> 41
A bit of confusion leaving Enschede--I had to go around a construction site with no signage but effectively followed a cycling couple. To kp 40 I was routed through a maze of suburban homes. Then I was at the edge of the Rutbeek, the lake/recreation area for Enschede. I headed for a little peninsula on the west side of the lake, with a sandy beach ringed by a broad lawn. Very pleasant. I'd rather not depart the scene but I need to get to Winterswijk, 30-odd kilometers south, where I managed to book a vriend op de fiets. 

From the Rutbeek I found the road to kp 47, then went through two nature reserves: the Buurserzand and Haaksbergerveen, both heathlands where the heather is now blooming purple amidst gnarly oaks, forests, abandoned fileds and pastures. And lots of cyclists. Big groups of middle-agers on a tear, usually consisting of couples in their 60s. Leaving the nature reserves I leave the crowds behind and take the long way through forests to Rekken. And now I traverse farming communities where the corn grows high next to manicured fields and rows of cows are lined up in barns for milking. After this rural interlude, I'll follow the LF-8 south to Winterswijk, 15km from here. I'm tiring, and hungry, but a break renews me and I find reserves of energy and gusto.

Enschede to Winterswijk

kp 55->56->54
At Zwilbrock (Germany), a big terrace cafe; a bit further up, pretty stretch of forest and a superb spot by a bank of the Lachmöwensee, a flamingo reserve. From a 'hide,' I watched cormorants swooping over the lagoon in a summer tableau.

I got to Winterswijk at dusk, a bit later than I had told my hostess, Jantine. I figured out from my map that I had to reach kp 8, then take a right on Waliënsestraat. This route circles the local lake/recreation park 't Hilgelo. (Every town has one.) When I reached Waliënsestraat, I was so pleased with myself that I took a wrong turn. I cycled hard, wondering why the town of Winterswijk did not appear. Then a large sign showed I was heading toward Vreden, not Winterswijk. I checked my compass. Yes, it was pointing north. Frustrated, I turned around and cycled back the 1.5km or so to kp 8 and continued down the road. I managed to overshoot the left turn at the rotunda, so had to turn around again. Then I couldn't find the street to turn down but managed to find Waalstraat. Jantine was outside calling my name. 

She is in her 50s I'd guess, a large woman in a rather schlumpy outfit. She wore glasses and had neck-length dark brown wavy hair. I was tired and sweaty and quite hungry. Jantine showed me to my room: a couple of single beds with gaudy duvets and sheets. She showed me that I could take a desk lamp from the floor and rest it on the edge of the bed for a reading lamp. Despite the shabbiness of the room, I appreciated that she pointed out this detail. Jantine is a school teacher. She didn't mind speaking Dutch with me and gently corrected me or supplied a word when I couldn't find it. Naturally the rooms had belonged to her kids who'd grown up and left the nest. One lives in Maastricht, the other two in Breda. 

But the matter at hand was dinner. I didn't feel like venturing to the center of town. Could I phone a carry-out and eat it here, I asked, apologizing for the imposition. She gladly assented and handed me two menus: one for a Turkish joint, the other for a Chinese place. It took me a while to decide. Jantine said she liked the Turkish pizza but I finally went with the Chinese place. But at that hour they could not deliver. How would I get there? Was it nearby? Actually it was on the other side of town and Jantine offered to drive me. I mildly protested, then accepted, realizing the wisdom and generosity of her offer. Later I discovered I was her very first Vrienden op de Fiets guest.

We chatted on the ride over, which took just a few minutes. The restaurant, with the highly original name De Grote Waal, had a cheap chic interior. An Asian woman brought me a box of Singapore noodles and we went home. Easy.

Lachmöwensee (Germany)

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