July 2015

First Days in Haarlem

Submitted by mag on

Spacious kitchen in our new home on Schagchelstraat We arrived Amsterdam Schiphol no problem on Monday morning 7/26 at around 9:30, got our stuff, and took the 300 bus to Haarlem, and walked a couple blocks to our apartment arriving about 11:30. Daniel and Monique, friends of the owner, were there to greet us and give us keys but the place wasn’t ready so we walked around the neighborhood. Haarlem was strangely dead – we couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Stores closed, restaurants shut up with chairs stacked and no one on the streets. It looked like the end of the world – everyone gone to the moon. Finally we found someone and asked where everyone was – she laughed and said “It’s Monday morning – everyone’s asleep!”. We’ve spent a lot of time in Haarlem but somehow didn’t know this.

Anyway at around 1 a few restaurants opened and people suddenly appeared and things got back to bustling normal. We had a nice lunch, and by then it was 2:30. The apartment was ready and Daniel and Monique were already gone. The apartment is perfect – only complaints are the store room for bikes is very small and there were only 2 tiny towels! We called Daniel and he immediately brought over 2 larger ones, which is plenty for us but we emailed Alena to be sure to bring 2 with her. Except for the small storeroom, the apartment is perfect – very open and spacious and only 2 blocks from the main square Grote Markt, but on a very quiet lane – Schagchelstraat – inside the Haarlem walking zone. Cars are only allowed before 9:30 in the morning – after that the posts go up and only locals with special cards can lower them. We made a trip to the grocery store, and then settled in for the night.  with Ernst van Zijl at Rijwielhandel van Tunen

This morning we set off to go pick up our bikes – as we were leaving we saw people moving in to the place a few doors down – they have their own way of doing things in Holland. We took the train to Beverwijk and then the walk to Ernst’s shop (that’s Ernst van Zijl at Rijwielhandel van Tunen). He had our bikes all tuned up and ready to go. He’s been a great friend and resource for all things biking. He told us that now 1 out of every three bikes sold in Holland are e-bikes! He had a lot of e-bikes all lined up – Kalkhoffs and Gazelles and others. We bought a couple of extra locks to be extra secure this trip and quickly got on our way.

This is the third time so we know the drill by now. We took the familiar ferry across the Noord-Zee Kanaal and then on through Ijmuiden and Druishuis to the LF1 bike trail through the National Park Zuid Kennamerland. There was a tremendous storm the day before we arrived in Holland and although all the big trees had already been cleared there were still many smaller trees in the trail. We had a very pleasant ride home – it’s well marked and we didn’t even get lost even though we didn’t have a good map. Had another fine lunch in the Grote Markt. We did manage to get the bikes in the store room and put them off to the side as much as possible.

Spacious kitchen in our new home on Schagchelstraat
Spacious kitchen in our new home on Schagchelstraat
Lovely windows - and a boutquet of lettuce!
Lovely windows - and a boutquet of lettuce!
Spacious kitchen in our new home on Schagchelstraat
Spacious kitchen in our new home on Schagchelstraat
Living area  in our new home on Schagchelstraat
Living area in our new home on Schagchelstraat
The view from our back deck
The view from our back deck
Typical Dutch stairway
Typical Dutch stairway
Stairway skylight
Stairway skylight
View from front window of our favorite Thai restaurant
View from front window of our favorite Thai restaurant
Moving in on Schagchelstraat
Moving in on Schagchelstraat
Moving in on Schagchelstraat
Moving in on Schagchelstraat
Walking to the train station near Grote markt
Walking to the train station near Grote markt
Train to Beverwijk to pick up our bikes
Train to Beverwijk to pick up our bikes
 with Ernst van Zijl at Rijwielhandel van Tunen
with Ernst van Zijl at Rijwielhandel van Tunen
 Jim ready to depart - with Ernst van Zijl at Rijwielhandel van Tunen
Jim ready to depart - with Ernst van Zijl at Rijwielhandel van Tunen
On the ferry across the Noord-Zee Kanaal
On the ferry across the Noord-Zee Kanaal
Trees down on LF1 in National Park Zuid-Kennamerland
Trees down on LF1 in National Park Zuid-Kennamerland
Lunch in the Haarlem Grote Markt
Lunch in the Haarlem Grote Markt

Final Countdown

Submitted by mag on

We are into the final launch sequence and so far everything is moving on schedule. We finished up a lot of yard work yesterday, and got our preliminary packing and checkout done, and even had time to enjoy dinner on our new deck and a fire. Tomorrow we finish packing and getting the house ready, and then in the afternoon drive to Kalamazoo to pick up our rental car. We haven’t had time to do a real “shakedown cruise” like we did last year, but we did a trial load of bicycles with our touring panniers to make sure we had all the pieces we will need in Europe. So we think we are good to go and ready for liftoff on Sunday. 

At 2 and a half months, this is our longest trip yet, and also our most flexible. We plan on 10 days in Haarlem with a visit from our daughter and her friend. Then we will pick up a cargo van in Amsterdam so we can easily hop from one touring destination to the next. Not needing advance train reservations will allow us to take each day as it comes and not be locked into a schedule. So we have almost total flexibility and it will be a new experience for us. The main difference being – easier to get to the starting point for our tours, but it also means, of course, we have to return to the starting point. We will see how this works out. The grand plan is – some cycling around Holland – we’ve done a lot of that but this year we plan to hit some of the most bike friendly towns in the SE region – Houten and then Eindhoven and Nuenen where Van Gogh lived, to see the famous Starry Night trail. From there we will hop down to the upper Mosel, which we did not see last time, and hit Trier, Luxembourg, and some other great sights. From there it’s down to the upper Danube where we will spend about 3 weeks cycling to Vienna. After that we’re open but hope to visit Munich where we lived for 2 years a long time ago, the French Burgundy and Champaign regions, maybe Provence and the Luberon but maybe not. It’s exciting to have so much flexibility this time.

Gear checkout - new deck in background
Gear checkout - new deck in background - good to go!
new deck
new deck - lookin' good
Gear checkout - new shed in back
Gear checkout - new shed in back
last campfire for awhile
last campfire for awhile
last campfire for awhile
Off on another adventure, Frodo
Off on another adventure, Frodo

Hard to Leave South Heaven

Submitted by mag on

It’s really hard to leave this beautiful spot in Michigan – just when the weather is getting perfect and the house is fixed up for outside enjoyment. Here are some photos of the beach near our house where I sometimes (not often enough) jog. And the town beach and lighthouse at sunset. Here are a couple of shots of our new deck – still some work to be done, but better.

Lunch on the Idler in South Haven harbor
Lunch on the Idler in South Haven harbor
Lake Michigan
Surveying our lake
Cheri's Strawberry Shortcake
Cheri's Strawberry Shortcake
The view from the hammock
The view from the hammock
Marina taking a break in the hammock
dinner on the deck
dinner on the deck
South Haven light at dusk
Deerlick Beach
Deerlick Beach
Deerlick Creek
Deerlick Creek