Things here in the Netherlands are a little different to what we’re used to in Australia. Public transport actually goes to where you want it to go, and cars are really a last resort, not a first resort.
However, there’s one thing that the Dutch are famous for – and no, it’s not Tulips, Windmills or cheese. Or even their assorted painters.
It’s bicycles. Everywhere you look around here there is a bicycle hurtling towards you – complete with saddle bags, front basket and the occasional string of flowers threaded through the handlebars. Or worse, sneaking up behind you with stealth accuracy (I’m not kidding, they should use a Dutch cyclist to model stealth bombers on) with only a last minute “ching ching”to warn you of impending doom and the opportunity to dive roll action hero style out of the way.
Last week Marius and I went to the bicycle shop (not the one downstairs, but the one across the market square) to look at bikes. And wow, what a selection there was. Big ones, little ones, pink ones, blue ones … and then there was the accessories!!
We discussed several models and were swayed towards 2. A rather swish purple one with 3 speeds, or a grey (also available in black) one with 7 speeds, bell, self locking, dynamo powered light … yo, all this one needed was a spoiler and a set of mags and it would be fully sick. And all for the astoundingly cheap price of 499 euros. Of course, this being Holland, Marius also had a bicycle plan available at work for him – so we didn’t buy that day, only tire kicked until we found out the conditions of the bicycle plan.
It turns out that the plan was really only for him to purchase a bike for his use. And of course, with our crazy height differences it wasn’t practical for him to fudge it – let’s face it, I only need a 49cm bike. So today, after our appointment at the town hall, Marius headed back to work, and I headed off to buy me a set of wheels.
LOL. I should actually come in here and say that my bike riding skills are a wee bit rusty. As in the last time I rode a bike would have been 1994 and high school. So in actuality, I could probably say that I suck at it. So, after handing over my 542.50 euros (I needed the red saddle bags!) I walked the damn thing home. Yes, I am that sad. I have new wheels, and I walked the thing home.
And when I got back here, of course, there was another drama. We have a bicycle shed as part of the flat – but there is only one key! And of course, Marius has it at the moment. So, as he’s not due back until 6.30, a comedy of Benny Hill proportions evolves. The damn thing won’t fit in the lift.
Around the side of the apartment block is a set of stairs – with a special bicycle ramp in them to the first floor. So I get in there, get it to the first floor where the lockers are and leave it in a spot that can be seen from our balcony. I’ve mentioned we live on the 4th floor somewhere, but forgive me if I haven’t. And of course, with my love of heights, looking over the rail to check my new wheels haven’t been stolen has been quite an accomplishment!
I also was offered bicycle insurance – at 99 euros for 3 years, that’s pretty awesome. For theft, damage and other assorted nasties, and my first service in 3 months is free!
Tomorrow I’ve been promised a bike tour of the city. Maybe I can push it around ….