This summer was a nice one. Different from others. First I spend one week of walking the west coast of The Netherlands together with Erwin Zantinga. After that walk I went on a tandem cycle-tour together with Lisa (my girlfriend). We decorated a retro tandem bike with all kind of funny stuff. With smiling, waving and ringing we cycled along the French and Belgian coast and through the interior back to The Netherlands again. Loaded with 30 pounds of camping gear, clothing and more, and not knowing if the bike would make it. We had a really good time.
Lisa has a passion for tandems. She likes the idea of elderly couples who love sitting on a tandem. Two years ago I got myself a nice retro bike for my birthday. Lately we’ve been a few times on the road with the tandem, but only for short day journeys. We had never thought about taking a longer tour, to have a nice experience through a cycle-tour adventure. Instead of a flight to the other side of the ocean we decorated the tandem, we packed our stuff and went with it on holiday.
And what is more fun than going on a tandem cycle-tour together?
At first it might seem like something to do if you enjoy a long deserved rest at an old age, but believe me, to cycle-tour on a tandem along the beach and through large hills is a really fun experience. Depending on the accommodation you choose (we went primarily for low budget camping, nice and primitive), it does not cost you a lot of money.
Lisa kept a diary of our experiences. This is our 14-day tandem ride!
Today started scary. Almost stopped by a conductor that told us that tandems are not allowed in the train. Arrived in Vlissingen in the South of The Netherlands. Cycling with a lot of hills and wind. Looking for shark teeth at our first campsite on the advice of a friend. Spot on a luxury mini camping. Eating a varied 3-course menu:
Main menu: Noodles with anchovies
Walking on the beach in the evening with sunset and quicksand. Henk & Lisa swimming together dressed as nudists. Beer and wine in a beachhouse, sleeping afterwards.
Henk wasn’t really comfortable in his too cold black/red sleeping tights (he tries an ultra-thin sleeping bag). We slept long into the morning hours, breakfast with a rich variety of gingerbread and a granola bar. An easy cycling pace today, picked blackberries and cycled by a very rich city at the sea: Knokke-Heist in Belgium.
Looking for a campsite. We first tried ‘Ant Nel’ a cute mobile home village, not suitable + extinct. Dinner while looking at fat people with chihuahuas at restaurant Alaska. To the beach, a fresh breeze and a beautiful sky. Salsa dancing and jumping over each other. Henk first dived into the sea. with his swimming trunks. Warm seawater! No nude swimming this time, after the swim papaya ice and then with pinched eyes into our sleeping bags.
Dear diary, today Henk and I tried to get up early, this did not happen.
Today was hard, Henk usually says, “honey, just take care of your cleaning ritual, I will cover the packing.” Nice!!! I think. But it appears, once arrived at the mirror in fluorescent light that there is still much work to do.
A coat of mascara and a bunch of powdered eyebrows richer, some eyebrow hairs & dirty skin poorer, I come back and Henk is allready waiting for at least 45 minutes.
Shopping list: honey cake, Activia deserts, salami sausages for Lisa, Henk has secretly taken a bite, dried fruits, peach, cucumber, avocado, plums, peppers, tomatoes (bag already full), carrot-cabbage salad, delicious colored sweets, coffee to keep Henk busy and some tea to keep Lisa sweet.
Along the Super U! Such uninviting big supermarket is always good for the ultimate “I’m in France on holiday ‘feeling”. Just arranged everything for a good night fire marsmallows, the air began to be dark. Finally on the beach with our stuff and it started to rain and storm extremely hard. Romantic with a bottle of liquor and to our knees in the seawater during the storm.
Today’s menu: noodles with tuna, lentil soup, bread, marshmallows (from yesterday), candy, madeira and whiskey.
First heavy hills!
Henk & Liep have both professional pants with panty liners. Pain on the ass, but still… not dare to stop! Today an overpriced cappuccino and a dead beer in… Boulogne Sur Mer!
Rain until 1:00pm. Henk already charges its electronics, Lisa send as many text messages to as many people as possible, hoping for some social interaction. Very steep mountains, no hills, we think. A descent of 14%. You could smell the smoldering rubber of the pads, additional braking with your feet. Lisa in stress, Henk sore hands of pulling the brakes.
We pass boring villages today, consisting of a church, a cemetery and a town hall. Camping found at 7.30pm. Instead of fried food (we were late), we drank five Leffe’s beers. Talked to the café owner with English and hands-feet-French in a café with a parrot (Serge) and everywhere lace strings.
Awake at 8:00pm. Dead silent, dew, rain, took a piss and back in the sleeping bag.
After a long journey we reached Kassel after a heavy, no, very heavy hill. Warmly received at Camping Le Romantique. Camping on the water with twittering ducks and smacking carps. Highlight: incredible romantic, sweet and funny owners of the campsite: George with his lovely Slovenian housewife.
George took pictures of us, he is intrigued by our ‘velo romantique’ he even wanted to lend us money to have a delivered pizza to the campsite. But, we have young legs so we cycled through unlit fields to a pizzeria!
We stay here another night, too cute to continue. We saw wild deer! When we were out for a second time in a very nice shop at Kassel, we were spontaneously invited by the owner. She asked us to have a drink at her home. She could barely speak English, we hardly French. We were received by her husband, son, nephew, dog and goat. Arrived tipsy back at the campsite. Received special beers and shots burning outside and inside the stomach,
A race against the clock to the beautiful city of Bruges. In one day, 80 kilometers. Our record. Exhausted and starving, we felt down at the campsite, no energy to have any fun. Fortunately and coincidentally there was a citywide festival called Footwork. Beers from the night shop and dancing with our feets off the floor!
At the last day totally wet from the rain. Finally in Vlissingen for the train. Adviced a couple on cycle-tour to visit our amazing windmills in Kinderdijk.
And later that day, home sweet home!More pics here