October 2015

Cycling the Heart of Nature in the Champagne district

Submitted by mag on

Velovoie des Lacs On our way back to Holland we stopped 2 nights for one last cycling adventure in France - in the Champagne district near Troyes. We got a delightful little cabin on Lac D'Orient in Geraudo called Chalet au cœur de la nature. We have to admit this canal and the Velovoie des Lacs was a little anticlimactic after the fabulous canals of Burgundy, but the "chalet" was so perfect it more than made up for it. The Lac is a reservoir, so like all the reservoirs it was about 40 feet down. The canal is not a navigation canal, but just a water source for the Seine.

Happy in Holland - Hoofddorp and Haarlem

Submitted by mag on

Happy in HollandWe were really happy to get back to Holland - it feels very comfortable and homey to us. What a joy to be back “home” in Holland. The weather is perfect, the people are friendly, bike trails everywhere, English spoken everywhere, the food and beer is great and you can actually order food whenever you want! We got a lovely little apartment from AirBNB in Hoofddorp. The only really sad thing was we missed connections with our Dutch friends due to an email mixup. 

Hoofddorp is not as charming as interesting as Haarlem, but it had many advantages. Near the airport, on the airport bus line, easy to park, unload and clean the car. And of course bike trails everywhere so no problem to get to Haarlem, the airport or anywhere else we wanted to go. The first thing we did after getting settled was return the car to the Sixt office near Amsterdam Central Station. (Sixt has places everywhere but only the Station location handles the cargo vans). After that we were free to go by bike wherever we needed to go – several lovely trips into Haarlem. We spent 2 afternoons at the beautiful waterfall restaurant on the lake.(Vork & Mes on the Haarlemmeerse). 

The village of Hoofddorp is lovely with a main bike trail leading directly from our place in Overbos to downtown, as well as the nearby shopping plaza. We spent a lovely and relaxing few days, but then it was time to start worry about getting all our gear and bikes back home… and this is a story in itself.

Bikes, Batteries, Baggage and Butts leave Amersterdam

Submitted by mag on

Arriving at SchipholThe Schiphol Amsterdam Airport is one of the busiest in the world. Yet flying out with a bicycle is routine and relatively simple. If you can carry all your baggage on your bicycle and you don’t have lithium batteries, it’s a simple matter of pedaling up to the terminal (bike path all the way), wheeling it into the airport through the huge revolving doors, using the huge elevators, purchasing a box, taking your bike apart and putting it in the box, and wheeling it to the departure check in area.

If, as in our case, you can’t carry all your baggage and you have lithium batteries, life gets a lot more complicated. We puzzled and theorized ad nauseum before coming up with a strategy. Being engineers and strong believers in Murphy Law+ (If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong and at the worst possible time” – in this case the worst time being any time that would conflict with our flight out at 3 pm Tuesday) eventually we did develop a systematic, low-risk but somewhat complicated process …. We call it our B4XAM System… which stands for getting our Baggage, Batteries, Bikes and Butts out of Amsterdam.  I may write it up in an article at some point, because it did work with no unexpected fees so I'm convinced it was the most economical way possible - but it was pretty arduous and would be very boring to anyone not involved in the same challenge.

Anyway, long story short, Bags, bikes and butts arrived home in South Haven at 1:30 am on the morning after we left Hoofddorp. (Batteries will come separately as hazardous cargo) Our dear neighbor Cheri had left us dinner and breakfast in a cooler at the back door.  That was a pleasant surprise!  Inside the house there were other, less pleasant surprises – gas turned off by the utility company due to a leak at the road so no heat, mice, spiders, and mold greeted us.  Took us a few days to pick up all the pieces, do all the cleanup, get over our jet lag and get life back on track but now all is good.     We are very happy to be back on US soil.