Thursday, September 22, 2016

Guidebook Research XI: Twente & Deventer

A few days in Amsterdam and now back on the road. Now in the town of Tubbergen, gateway to the Twente region, which Maarten from Nijmegen and Koen from Eindhoven insist is a great environment for cycling. Having dinner at a notably good value eetcafe, De Burgermeister. Also my Vrienden op de Fiets pad is outstanding: I've got a veritable apartment on the Bosweg, about 1.5km west of the center. So it appears Phase 3 is off to a good start.

Big Bosmeen: Fab vriend in Tubbergen
This Vrienden op de Fiets is true luxury. It's the equivalent of a nice hotel in the middle of nowhere: Tubbergen, in Twente, a jigsaw piece that could've gone either way, Holland or Germany. There was an event going on in the center of this cute village, a "jazz band" with a beautiful blonde singer and a beautiful blonde conductor. I had no interest in the music: there's just something so pointless in having a highly educated buxom Dutch woman vocalizing an Aretha Franklin number. I could've attempted to chat up one of the spiffily dressed spectators out for Saturday night in Tubbergen but I knew I wouldn't.

 (original date of this entry: June 21, 2015)
Although my lodgings were comfortable the breakfast was sparse. ("At this rate, I can't do a buffet," says Petra.) I supplemented it with half an avocado.

Tubbergen is a quaint and typically affluent Dutch community. A few cyclists out, more runners in lycra shorts and big black minivans. The church is a grim austere block of gray stone. At 10 am, the church bells were clanging like a Philip glass composition.

It's the first day of summer but it doesn't feel like it. Rather cool and breezy. The point of today's ride is simply to get a feel for Twente, see what's so special about it. So instead of heading straight for Ootmarsum (just 8km), I'll head north toward the German border, where according to Vriend op de Fiets Petra it is hilly.

32 -> 36 (LF14a)
This section east of Tubbergen is flat and not especially interesting. Farmlands, big flat fields of grass with grazing cows. I'm on the Kapsweg.


Frans watermill
In Het Dal van de Moesbeek, specifically the Frans watermill, with a pokey visitors center with cycling and walking maps. It's raining. This is a stop on a group fiets tour of the border region, and there's a little music fest going on. "Springs, streams, burial mounds from the bronze age, former paper mills." It's part of the Northeast Twente National Landscape. The watermill really works. It was used to grind grain. You can see swallows,  bats, yellow wagtails, stag-beetles. 

Springendal forest
Raining on and off. Now it's off but the trees continue dripping. I'm a little ways from Ootmarsum, which is my main objective for the day. I've been riding through the Springendal forest and I'm stopped at a hiking trailhead.  The woods are pretty of course but about the same as elsewhere. The terrain rolls gently. For a while I was descending at a rapid clip down a narrow dirt trail. 

Soggy Ootmarsum
"Ootmarsum is one of the oldest Twente towns -- founded in 126 AD by the Frankish army under Othmar"... which somehow became Ootmarsum. It stood along an old trading route between the Netherlands and Germany. "Vakwerkhuizen (half-timbered houses), narrow alleys with bumpy pavement."

Ootmarsum seems like nothing special, but maybe because it's raining. The "time stands still" biz seems overblown; most of the town is standard Dutch suburbia. This Sunday is a washout and the day trippers are huddling in the quaint cafes. A mysterious brunette stands by a tree under her umbrella. She looks different from the usual run of ruthlessly practical old couples who look miserable riding their bikes under protective raingear. Now she's moved around the corner of the brick building and I can just see the edge of her blue umbrella. She looks French with bobbed hair that would've been fashionable in the 1930s. Her guy has just arrived in denim and sneakers.

Tubbergen to Oldenzaal

Rain on the one hand ruins the day's activities while on the other hand it gives you a chance to stop and reflect. I'm having an onion soup at the Stadscafe, sitting at the terrace looking at the big old church. It wasn't supposed to rain so hard today. It'll keep on through Tuesday at least. When I arrived in town dripping wet, I surveyed the cafes as the terrace occupants surveyed me. As often happens here I feel as if I'm being sized up. 

Signs point to attractions: Het Drostenhuis, the open-air museum, Maria chapel, cloister and garden. Hotels too. But I've got no umbrella and I'm staying put. I had coffee and vlaai, and now the rain is coming down harder. The coffee is swill, the vlaai as artificial as a jello mold from Iowa. I need to make a move but not sure what. I don't want to go inside the cafe because they've got crappy music on. 

kp 15 -> 50 -> 51 -> 56
The countryside east of Ootmarsum is very green, still mostly flat pastures, country backroads lined by rows of trees. Below the Almelo-Nordhorn canal it gets prettier: a dirt trail through forest, narrow country roads, planted fields, old ivy-coated trees, horses. This is part of the Roderveld forest. The last stretch (kp 51-56) is great, primordial, a muddy trail, and it goes on for quite a ways.


I made it to Deventer in under an hour from Oldenzaal through a combination of luck and savvy. The Twentse regional train goes only as far as Hengelo. There I found the train to Zwolle and got on just a moment before the doors closed. I wasn't even sure if it was the right train but I figured if it was going west it would get me there. I asked a geezer if I could get to Deventer. He shook his head: "This train is not going to Deventer." Then a young dude across the aisle told me I needed to change at Almelo. That worked. Within minutes of my arrival in Almelo, the train to Den Haag arrived. Deventer was the next stop.


Van Bovenkamp residence, Deventer
In Deventer I returned to the house of Hannie van Bovenkamp. The weather continued to be foul but I thoroughly explored the town and was quite impressed with its architectural legacy. Also revisited Frederique Hijink, who remains a single woman with a profound interest in owls. One difference is she is now a vriend op de fiets, and I met her guests, a pair of mannish gals.

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