Sunday, January 21, 2018

Cycling Europe 2017 Day 11: Amsterdam To Arnhem - The Forest Paths

                                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                   
Cycling Europe 2017 Day 11: Amsterdam To Arnhem - The Forest Paths
United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Netherlands & Germany : Day 11 - Thursday,  7th September - Amsterdam to Arnhem
This is part of cycling tour of Western Europe, covering from Amsterdam to Arnhem:
Cycling Distance - 100.69 km.     Level: Hard.
Cycling Time : 7:45am to 5:30pm
Time Taken : 9 hrs. 45 mins. (inclusive of stops for lunch, rests and many photo opps).


Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions!
        On the Continental Europe, vehicles are left-hand drive, so cycle on the right. And do remember the traffic directions at road crossing. Also note that often cycling lanes run next to pedestrian lanes at town and city areas, at crossings there are separate lanes for pedestrians and bicycles, so stick to the correct lane.

2. Route & Traffic Conditions  
    The route is flat but quite long and is partly shaded.
    For planning cycling routes in Europe, Cycle Travel which has a very user-friendly cycle travel trip planner, routes using this planner can be saved and also converted to GPX format for use in GPS devices.  

3. Weather
    AAmsterdam, the day weather was a fairly cool average of 16°C with a high of 23°C with overcast skies. There was a light drizzle near Arnhem in the late afternoon. Night temperature at Arnhem averaged 14°C with a low of 10°C. Wind speed was moderate, averaging 19 kph with gusts up to 30 kph.
    It is always prudent to check the weather for the next day so as to know what to expect and be prepared for it. Useful weather forecast sites are BBC WeatherAccuWeather and Weather Spark.

4. Places of Interest
Nesciobrug, Nescio Cycling Bridge (GPS: 52.35648, 4.96941), the longest dedicated cycling-foot bridge in Amsterdam.
- Diemerpark (GPS: 52.35517, 4.98363).
- Almere Haven Harbour (GPS: 52.33406, 5.22055).
- Forest cycling paths at Roekel (GPS: 52.09442, 5.73141).
- Arnhem 40-45 War Museum (GPS: 52.0269, 5.87204).

5. Food
Breakfast: Take-away sandwiches and pastry bought the previous day from a Lidl supermarket in Amsterdam.
Lunch: Baguette sandwiches & Paninis at Etcafé Princesse (GPS: 52.22431, 5.48446) in Nijkerk.
Dinner: Chinese dishes at Kwong Chow Cantonese Restaurant (GPS: 51.98434, 5.91848) in Arnhem.
Beers: at Nescio (GPS: 51.98826, 5.90971) in Arnhem.

6. Accommodations
    We stayed at the Arnhem Antonius B&B (GPS: 51.99068, 5.91274) a very nice, cozy and homely place. We had pre-booked online a 2-pax room and a 3-pax room for a total of €225 per night. When we checked in we had 3 rooms - two 2-pax rooms and a single pax room all with an en-suite bathroomsWe were allowed to park our bikes in the semi-basement. This was the best hotel of our tour as it was equivalent to a boutique hotel.
    Address: Sint Antonielaan 312-314, 6821 GN, Arnhem, Netherlands.
    Phone : +31-0651239991

7. Communicating with Each Other
    When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost.
    We got pre-paid SIM cards from UK mobile provider Three under the All-in-One #15 deal for only £15/= from one of their outlets in Bristol (GPS: 51.45735, -2.59074). This plan lasts for 30 days and allows for 5GB Data, 3,000 minutes of call time & 3,000 text messages within the system. More importantly it has their "Feel At Home" which allow the phone's data, call and messaging allowance to be used in sixty countires (mostly European and also Singapore) without any extra charges!

8. Communicating with Locals
    In the Netherlands, almost all the locals can speak English.
    When communicating with locals is a problem, this could be partly overcome by using translation apps like Google Translate. Do install this app into your phone and before you leave on your tour do some basic translation as it will be saved onto a list of recent translations.
    Look out for the tourist information booths at airports, railway stations or bus stations, the guides manning the booths speak very good English and do give good tips on where to visit, directions, train and bus schedule.

9. Navigation
    As Bill had pre-planned the route and had loaded the GPX route file onto his Garmin GPS unit. I was the assistant navigator and had loaded the route maps onto my unit too.

10. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads and the relevant tools.
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PRELUDE

The past couple of days, it was a winding down rest period. It was not without cycling though as we did some exploration of Amsterdam's old city center and also rode along the Amstel River to visit a cheese farm which also make the famed Dutch clogs ... which ended with us buying cheese at a very good price... no clogs purchase though.
Today start winding up again and head for Arnhem on a 100 km. route that will take us along some stretches passing through lovely woods and forests. The highlight of the day were some surprises towards the end!


THE RIDE

 
 Cycling route: Amsterdam>Nesciobrug>Diemerpark>Almere Haven>Nijkerk>Barneveld>Roekel>Arnhem.
The route runs Ijmeer, Gooimeer and Eemmeer lakes before heading inland into the Gelderland passing through a couple of major towns and ending in Arnhem. A short section of the route after Roekel was along narrow and very quiet bike paths that run through forests and woods.


8:00am - Just out of Amsterdam city center, we rode on the Nesciobrug (Nescio Cycling Bridge). With a span of 800m it is one of the longest pedestrian/cycling bridge in the country as well as the country's first suspension bridge that carries only a cycle track and footway.


Although it was a week day, the bridge was busy with cyclists, most were on the way to work; which just shows how developed the cycling culture is in the country.


Just after the bridge is the Diemerpark which was opened in 2004. This city park was former landfill until 1973 and was one of the most polluted places in the Netherlands. The 90-hectare park is laid out on very polluted soil. Instead of choosing for a complete soil remediation, the entire area has been "wrapped up" with a waterproof top layer consisting of bentonite clay and foil. This makes the park as if it were a roof garden on the former landfill. As a result, visitors are also not allowed to dig holes or even pitch tent pegs, and it is not possible to plant deep-rooted trees of more than 5 meters high.


At Gooimeer, a silhouette photo of the girls waving their goodbyes to Amsterdam. Gooimeer together with Ijmeer and Eemmeer are bordering lakes which are lakes which separate the reclaimed polder lands from the ancient land.

Somewhere along the way, we got separated into two groups. At Almere Haven Harbour, we waited for the other two and while waiting, admired the boats docked at the piers ....

... and also this intriguing sculpture nearby. What was the artist try to express, that it's a tough world of a grounded man pressured by the rest of the world above him?
We, on a cycling tour here was less pressured... in fact we were rather relaxed, watching sailboards on the lakes, the tall wind turbines with their turning blades slowly whooshing through the air; and flocks of birds flying overhead.


10:30am - Our breakfast was a light one and soon our tummy were growling. At the outskirts of Zeewolde we saw a restaurant along the lakeside, the Brasserie Zuiderzoet which looked like a very inviting place, unfortunately it was all quiet and close.
But luck was with us, when we turned away from the lakes and headed inland into the Gelderland, we rode into Nijkerk an hour later. This was a larger town which at the town center looked like a spanking new town but in fact Nijkerk's stems from Nieuwe Kerk (Dutch for New Church). This new church was built when the old chapel was destroyed by fire in 1221. So the new church is almost eight hundred years old, making the city even older!


And modern days and modern culture has caught up, we saw this rubbish truck and on of the collector was a young lady. Western culture is quite open-minded, I doubt if any of our local ladies would be caught being a rubbish collector!


Anyway, let's just mingle with the local life. At the narrow streets, no cycling was allowed until we reached the town square where we found a nice restaurant called the Etcafé Princesse (Princess Cafe). The menu was in Dutch, but we got some "royal" treatment from the pretty blonde waitress who spoke good English and translated for us.


It was a simple brunch of ham sandwiches and paninis with smoked salmon; but here at the warm restaurant in the cozy town square it was a heavenly meal.


We are now in the Gelderland, the older part of the Netherlands which are on higher ground. With it's capital at Arnhem and a land area of nearly 5,000 km2, it is the largest province of the Netherlands and shares borders with six other provinces and Germany. Historically, the province dates from states of the Holy Roman Empire and takes its name from the nearby German city of Geldern.


More country views as we passed by a farm with Alpacas. These animals are similar and related to the llamas and are also from South America. They are smaller than the llamas but have thicker fur and are bred for their fur.


Surprise #1 awaited us at Roekel, here the bike path narrows down and runs through light forest and woods. Through the thick trees and undergrowth, no houses nor roads could be seen.


Nearby were stables and horse farms, and often riders will ride along the tracks here.


We got out of the woods and then it started raining. But then one must be wondering why are we wearing our raincoats in the open and not in the shade? Unlike the tropics, where one likes to get away from the hot sun and cower under shaded trees; here it gets cold and whenever we stop its out in the open trying to catch the warm rays of the sun.


Just outside Arnhem is the Arnhem 40-45 War Museuma private museum dedicated to the Second World War, particularly in and around Arnhem. At it's compound were relics of captured German war weapons from the war, including a Panzer tank and an 88mm canon.


An even narrower and quieter forest cycling path as we approached Arnhem.


Surprise #2 was when we arrived at our homestay, Arnhem Antonius B&B. While we waited, Ying went over to try to check in, a young man opened the door and suddenly we heard them conversing in Malay! The owner Jason was an Indonesian who came from Singapore! Soon all of us were happily chatting with him in our familiar language.


Jason was a very friendly and warm host, and to top it all his place was like a boutique hotel, very well decorated with fine furniture, paintings and sculptures. The bedrooms had huge beds with fine Italian linen; each had a small alcove stocked with good coffee and bottles of cookies! And all of these were without extra charge. I had a feeling, he was so happy to converse with us that he must have upgraded our rooms.


Surprise #3 was when we walked out to the city center to look for the Thursday night street market. We couln't find it but ended up at Kwong Chow, a restaurant that served Cantonese fare. The food like this stir-fried tofu was very good, close to the standards and tastes of what we got back home. AND the captain and head waitress were Malaysians from Ipoh and Penang. It was another round of chit-chat in a familiar dialects about home.


Our walk back was through a central boulevard along the main streets; at night the fountains here are beautifully lit up.


Arnhem is very close to the Germany, so why not take advantage of these and have some German beer. We ended up at Nescio, enjoying Bavaria beer. Although it had a German sounding name, this beer comes from Bavaria Brewery, based in Lieshout. It's Netherlands' second largest brewery after Heineken.

Still it was a very good beer...
CHEERS!

(For more photos of the Day 11, Click Here)
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