Thursday, August 26, 2010

Alternatieve Elfstedentocht - Day 3

At northern edge of cute harbor Stavoren, where I ate some herring and bought a lensatic compass. Many sailing craft on the waters here, very busy at the marina. The greenish waters have a gentle chop. I have 50 km to go and it's noon. The day is outstanding.

Idyllic spot en route to Bolsward.
By a lazily moving canal, eolic windmills in the background. I just had my lunch in a village called Parregea (Parrega in Dutch), but this spot, en route to point 5 and Bolsward, is better - a solitary bench alongside the canal, shaded by gnarly trees, a thin thread of pavement for a fietspad, a little drawbridge down the way. A few pleasure craft pass by occasionally, the random cyclist. 

I feel a bit of pressure to cover all those kilometers before dusk: more than 50, actually, since I started at Laaxum, about 6 km before Stavoren, the day's official starting point.

Some of these old couples are like matched sets, down to the same bicycles and accessories. 

"11 Cities Route" - Day 3
I hugged the coast as far as Hindeloopen (Hylpen in Frisian), a harbor populated by hundreds of crazy kite surfers and windsurfers. It was still a bit cool, not really beach weather. I did see one little beach with about two people on it. A storm threatened over the church but faded away by the time I got to Workum/Warkum. Lots of tourists there chomping on fried fish, shopping. Then the trail turned in from the coast and proceeded through farm fields.

Bolsward: clever advertising placement
I tunnel beneath a highway and suddenly I'm in the town of Bolsward (Boalsert in Dutch). And what do you know, it's a small city and has an urban feel about it. Around here there are inter-city buses, modern aquamarine "conexxion" vehicles. I just saw one on its way to Harlingen. Bolsward has a handsome canal with fine brick walls, spanned by decorative black steel arches. A procession of young women stride past, perfect specimens of Nordic femaleness, then their faded elderly counterparts with their dyed 'dos, as I sit here sipping my cappuccino grote at the Hema department store, a suitably downmarket but beautifully situated terrace cafe, right on the broad brick pedestrian/cycle way that flanks the canal. I had promised myself a coffee before the last stretch to Harlingen and this certainly fits the bill.

No blacks or Turks up here in Friesland, it seems. Now an unusual trio strides my way, two studs in tank tops and sailors' white trousers, one with dark receding hair and shades like a mafioso, the other with a long blonde ponytail, between them a svelte babe in pigtails wearing a slyly ruffled flamenco dancer's skirt. Old folks sit with their coffees and chat by the canal.

I'd best continue my trek.

Honor system: leave your change and choose your squash
From Schettens (Skettens) to Witmarsum (Wytmarsum - these Frieslanders must have struggled long and hard to be able to use that "i" instead of the "y"), most delightful rural landscapes, farmhouses, fields. They're chopping up field grains and dumping piles of it for horses and sheep to lustily feast on. Pattypan squash for sale, 0.50 a piece! Fabulous weather: warm with a constant slight breeze. Just 11 km to Harlingen at 6:30 pm.

From Witmarsum, I follow the country motorway, along with drivers out for a TGIF pleasure spin, through Arum (same in Dutch!), a place with some big manors, and now Kimswerd (Kimswert), with a pretty church I almost don't notice. They're having a summer festival this weekend. Now I've got my headphones on, John Cale's Dream Interpretation, which somehow fits the somber, nondescript character of the houses, the fields of wheat. It really rivals New Jersey for suburban nothingness. I belong in this family landscape no more than I do in, say, Villa del Carbón. Even the oompah music blaring from somewhere reminds me of the afternoon jollies its Mexican counterpart might provide to some vaquerito (cowpunk).

Anyway for some reason I've had a much easier time of it today, Friday the 13th, although I think I've clocked more kilometers than yesterday. Now for my triumphant arrival in Harlingen. Continued ...

No comments:

Post a Comment