Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fietsmuseum, Nijmegen

Ride lighter on a "JOCO"

It was easy enough to locate my vriend op de fiets (cycling friend) in Nijmegen, in a residential zone west of the center. Marina Pool lives in a curved apartment complex on Floraweg. Her flat is on the sixth floor with a balcony overlooking a park. Marina, in the same age bracket as Ricky and Mevrouw Janssen, speaks English perfectly, is rather shy. I noticed there were mezuzot in the doorways and I pretended to kiss one by my room.

"I figured you were Jewish," said Marina.

"How did you know?"

"Well, your name."

Knooppunt 46: approaching Nijmegen. 
She told me about her involvement in Judaism, though she only discovered that her mother was Jewish, and not Roman Catholic as she pretended to be, in 1997, which was quite a revelation for Marina.

Café de Fiets, Nijmegen
My room had a pullout bed and shelves of books about Judaism.

We sat and chatted for a while. She showed me itineraries and maps from all the cycling trips she'd taken, including one from Amsterdam to Basel! For each section of the trip she had meticulously typed out itineraries. (Now she has a Mac.) She told me that the knooppunten network was a relatively recent development. Previously the LF (Landelijke-Fietsroutes) system was used (and still is) and cyclists had guidebooks with meticulously detailed route instructions ("Turn left at the canal"). The knooppunten system greatly simplified matters.
View from the Valkhof toward the Waal.

I took a shower and rode into the center. Following The Rough Guide's suggestion, I tried a restaurant called De Plak on Bloemerstraat. It had a hipster vibe and served some vegetarian meals. The weather was still mild enough at 9 pm that people were sitting outside on a terrace, though it was a busy avenue with cars and buses passing constantly. The waitress seemed uninterested in her job--she didn't even know what the soup of the day was. I had the mustard soup and a Moroccan pastry dish with salad and seasoned carrots, plus a cloyingly sweet Gulpener Oude Bruin beer. Cost: €17.

Alexandre Urbain "handcar": France, 1819
I don't get much of a sense of the town of Nijmegen. It feels a bit rougher than Amsterdam and the bike paths not as logically designed, though of course there are bike paths everywhere.

"Handcar", Germany, 1818

The next day I did a couple of museums before returning home. the Valkhof Museum and then
the Velorama, or Nationaal Fietsmuseum. It was then I realized how high above the river the center of town was. From the Valkhof it appeared you could only descend by steps. From the Grote Markt--the main square--Grotestraat descends precipitously.

Extra Loud in Tone!

Pedomotive carriage: France, 1860
The Fietsmuseum was excellent, a treasure trove of vintage bicycles, including pedal-propelled wagons, various tandem models such as a French one with the seats side by side, adorably designed children's bikes and other such human-powered vehicles that seem so practical you have to wonder why they're not still in use. It's as if bicycles represented the peak of mankind's evolution and the internal combustion engine was a wrong turn, a disastrous mistake. Society and infrastructure could have continued to progress around the bicycle.

Check out the beautiful gargoyle ornament!
Huffy "Radiobike" from USA

Clipper Style Tricycle from Germany (1887)


  1. Excellent post, dude. Well written and worthy of recompense, sir! I assume you mean to suggest you have some revulsion to the Korean practice of slicing off chunks of fish filet and tossing the fish back in the tank to keep it alive as long as possible as it's butchered? Gee, so judgmental, you Jews :^)

  2. What a great museum - its one of a kind. I did check out that Gargoyle, pretty rad!

  3. Cool place to visit, i like the Radiobike