Day 1, Friday, May 20 – Amsterdam to Dijk Bij Duurstede

Saturday 21 May 2011

It was a glorious morning.

The past two overcast days broke to a crisp, cool breeze and warm sunshine that made the 50 degree temperature very comfortable.  We didn’t get started until 9:30 as our breakfast companions had just arrived from Australia.  We compared notes on our planned trips down the River Rhine and then on to Budapest; of course they were going via cruise.

Biking, versus walking, gives you an entire different perspective on the town and a special appreciation for the ease in which the locals maneuver their bikes; poetry on wheels.  We managed to struggle through the intersections without getting run over or yelled at and find the safe bike paths.

We had not run into a language barrier until we started trying to read maps and street signs, we are sure we lost a lot in translation.  One gentleman even came out of his apartment to chat (and help with directions).  Hank had biked the United States coast to coast when he was 66; he still rides everyday at 80.

Once out of the city we biked a delightful bike trail along the Amsterdam canal. very similar to biking the C & O Canal outside of Washington DC, except this was paved.

and the cruise boat and barge traffic was substantial. The Amsterdam canal is one of the main thoroughfares that connect the commerce of the River Rhine and the North Sea.

By lunch time we’d only done 30 miles, somehow lost the canal but reached the town of Utrecht and almost the end of our navigational skills for the day.  But after some nourishment, caffeine, sugar and questions to a lot of different people, we were encouraged to press further.

We continued through the city to the River Lek.  This bike path took us through beautiful farms, green from the spring rains and filled with horses, cows and sheep.

We stopped at every road to make sure we were heading in the right direction.  It became frustrating that a runner kept passing us.  Jerry finally biked up beside him and they chatted for miles, think we succeeded in slowing him down a bit.

He did mention a town we MUST stay in, so we had a goal.  By 5 pm we reached the enchanting town of Dijk Bij Duurstede.  Like going back in time, which is very romantic if you have a hotel reservation; not so happy when you’ve biked almost 50 miles for the first time in two years.  Luckily, we found a room in the ONLY hotel in town.  A hot shower, deliciouso bowl of pasta and a stroll through the town center to watch the sun kiss the roof edge (at 9:30 pm)

then off to bed.

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