This article is originally written for the magazine of De Wereldfietser. A Dutch association for bicycle travelers to exchange information on traveling by bicycle.
With a fast cycling pace I approach the Brienenoord bridge in Rotterdam. On my trusty old steel road bicycle. I give him a pat on the frame: “I missed you boy, it feels good to cycle with you again.” It starts to rain heavily but I don’t really care. I stood for heavier challenges. If I cycled down from the bridge I’m riding on a bicycle path along the river. “A real bike path,” I think by myself, “that is uniq in Holland, you’ll find bike paths like this almost nowhere in the world. Here you’ve them everwhere.” I accelerate a bit. My heart beats faster and I cycle now on my fastest pace. I get soaked with sweat combined with the rain. It doesn’t matter to me, tonight I don’t have to camp.
Suddenly something grabs my attention. I get a wonderful view of the Erasmus Bridge. It is for the first time in a year that I’m seeing this bridge in real life agian. I need to stop for a moment. I park my bicycle at the side of the bike path. There, on that bridge, I cycled away a year ago. With destination Singapore. Images of other big cities flashes through me. Istanbul, Yerevan, Tehran, Kashgar, Vientiane, Bangkok, all comparable cities but always different. Cities where I’ve never been. Where I searched for new people to meet. Today I know exactly where I need to be. And who I’ll meet. This city is my old familiar spot. Today I’ve an interview for a job.
A job. I see. So, I’m going to settle myself again? Do I want that? Can I do that? Often people are firing me questions. Like yesterday: “It has to be confrontational after such a long journey to be back in the Netherlands again, right?” I try to explain that I just accept it as the way it is. Certainly, something I learned from the Thai people. Especially not judge a country and its culture. The Netherlands is not so bad. It’s just one of the many unique cultures in the world and I grew up here. This is my home. Here I feel at home. That life goes so fast and many people work for day and night, that’s what we owe our prosperity to.
In Georgia the Netherlands was the country of freedom. In Iran the Netherlands was the country of the beautiful flower fields. In China the Netherlands was the county of the windmills. In Kyrgyzstan the Netherlands was the country where everyone is rich. The country where everyone wants to live in. I would not dare to complain that my journey is over. Of course it is difficult to pick up normal life again after so much freedom. In a fixed position, with a daily routine and obligations. But all those travel experiences nobody will ever take away from me.
Next week, I’ll jump back on the bicycle. On to Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands. Saving a train ticket because money I kinda don’t have anymore. In Groningen I’m going to camp for a weekend and share stories with other adventurers. Because let me be honest, you don’t have to cross the entire world to have wonderful adventure on a bicycle.
A new big adventure is awaiting, but for now I’m going to enjoy life back home again.