We have officially started riding! I am writing this from Odijk, NL. We left St. Paul on Wednesday, sad to leave our friends and family, but excited to get on the road. As I wrote before in the previous post we changed our flight to Amsterdam due to COVID problems. (a quarantine was required in the UK at the time)
We had a 10 hour flight from MSP to Keflavik to Amsterdam and we arrived in Amsterdam on August 5. We put our bikes together at baggage claim with no issues –surprisingly— and then we biked out of the airport without having to go through immigration or anything.
When we left the airport we realized we had made the mistake of not downloading maps at home, so we were lost and had to find our way to Amsterdam. With the use of the compass Henry’s aunts Mary Lynn and Donna and his uncle Jack gave us and a lot of guessing we eventually made it to the city center were we went to a bar and got WiFi for maps and legally bought our first beers.
Amsterdam is a HUGE city that kind of looks the same in a lot of places but is filled with tons of little stores in their ~1700/1800’s style, tall buildings. The part that I liked most about how Amsterdam was structured is that they have tons of canals that people tie boats to and use them as roads to get through the city. Another crazy thing about Amsterdam is around every couple corner there is a MASSIVE building that looks like a castle or is a castle.
We used the maps we downloaded at the bar to take us to the Stayokay Hostel in Vondel Park. It cost us 59 Euro to stay there which was a bit expensive normally, but at the bar a guy gave us 50 Euros when he heard about our trip from the waitress. On the night of the 5th we walked through Amsterdam’s city center for a few hours, it was very different from the US I must say. The city center went from normal stores to drugs and sex stores very quickly, but it was all cool to see just because it was so different from what we would normally see at home or in most other parts of the world.
We started the day expecting to spend one more night in our hostel and explore the city of Amsterdam but our plans changed when the receptionist told us it would be 40 Euros a piece to stay another night. Instead we decided we should go to the campground that I had researched while Henry slept to go to on the 7th. We took our time in Amsterdam on the 6th, we stayed until about 12:30PM and then we left. We spent the morning buying me a SimCard, a notebook and pens, buying Henry an outlet adapter and getting breakfast for the two of us. Our cafe that we went to for breakfast served delicious sandwhiches, I got a sand which that was called “Healthy” on the English menu it had Ham, cucumber, tomato, lettuce and cheese. Henry got a roast beef sandwich and a ham sandwich and they were only 5.5 Euros each.
After breakfast we noticed rainclouds forming so we left pretty quickly from there. We made it 10 miles before having to stop in a tunnel to take refuge from the rain, and we made it 5 miles from there before we had to stop for refuge at a train station with a man who spoke pretty much only Dutch but we were able to have a little conversation with him with the little bit of English he knew. He said “Weather bad” while pointing at the rain and he said “No pay” while pointing at the ferry near us and laughing at the tourists getting on.
We stopped at a cafe for a coffee around two at a town we couldn’t find the name to and we made friends with the waitress who served us two lattes, two paninis, a beer and a coffee for 16 euros. I learned the name for panini in Dutch there too – Tostee.
Our ride on the sixth ended up being 40 miles total with a roller coaster day for weather (Sunny – Windy – Rain – Cloud – Rain – Sunny – Rain – Cloudy – Windy – Sunny). We ended up in Odijk which the man who was hiding from the rain from us told us is pronounced Ohdik. We camped at Prinsenhof Campground which is a beautiful farm campground with cows, dogs, cats, rabbits, sheep and ponies.
We woke up on August 7 and decided we would spend the day at camp instead of trying to ride, because it was supposed to rain and we had biked in the rain the day before.
We spent the morning at camp and then around 11am we went into the town of Werkhoven to buy a gas can for our stove, which we did not end up finding so we ended up just buying a lighter and some breakfast food. We went to Odijk after that to go to an ATM but on the way there we saw dark clouds and even though it wasn’t supposed to rain it started DOWNPOURING it was crazy, we started sprinting into the town center and rode our bikes under an awning for a restaurant and by the time we had gotten there we were already soaked.
When the rain eventually died down we rode back to camp and talked to a woman for a while about our trip and she helped us find a place to get a gas can. She was really funny and was showing us videos of when she used to live next to a crackhouse. She also gave us biker buttons that we are sporting on our Paniers now.
We ended up going back to odijk one more time that evening to get dinner. We had sand which ingredients at camp but Henry put “Spreadable Meat” on his and hated it so we went to get Dutch pizza from town
Today was an eventful day. One thing I did not include in the entry for august 7 is that I posted a video on TikTok that ended up getting 600,000 views, so we now have 30,000 people following our trip (and counting). One of the people who saw the video reached out to us in the morning and asked to meet us in our next town for coffee because she is interested in bike packing across Europe. We told her we could meet her in Viljmen at 4:30.
We started biking around 11am on the 8th. The night before there was a huge storm so everything in the campground was soaked and a little flooded.
We left in the morning knowing we needed to be to Vlijmen 45 miles away in 5.5 hrs so we wouldn’t get that many breaks. It was a very pretty ride, we are still on bike paths all day as we have been since Amsterdam. Small towns in the Netherlands are the best, they’re all brick roads and canals with pretty houses and a few stores on the making road. We usually stop at grocery stores every few towns and try a new Dutch food.
We had to bike in the rain today, we expected a drizzle but got another downpour. For about 20 minutes we hustled through wind and rain with our rain gear on. We both have a love hate relationship with the rain so when we have to bike through it we aren’t too upset.
The wind today was killer though and our relationship with the wind is just hate, unless its in our favor. Today the wind was at our faces and at least 15 miles an hour. It was much harder when we were up on bridges, but the bridges we went over today were very cool.
When 4:30 came around, Sara (the girl who messaged me) told us to meet her at De Kluis in Vlijmen. We had coffee and dinner with her and we talked for almost 2 hrs because it took so long to get the food. Because the food took so long her family also came so we got to meet all of them. Sara is a fun person, she is on the second year of her own gap year and is thinking of bike packing across Europe so she wants to ride about a week with us starting wherever we are on next Saturday. Her dad was a big bike packer when he was younger so she has all the gear she needs. So we may or may not see her again.
After Sara and her family bought us dinner we biked to our campground in Vlijmen called FF-R-UIT. We are staying for €15.5 a night and we might stay here tomorrow too because it is supposed to be solid rain all day.
It is Sunday today and my goal is to post on Sunday’s and Wednesdays as an end of the week and middle of the week update. I will try to keep up with the schedule as I can with WiFi.