Having spent a really pleasant evening at Annette and Jan's, Tuesday dawned early.
The fourth day of my bicycle road trip to Groningen (and back) started with a quick shower and an even quicker breakfast at the b&b. I was eager to get going.
After days of cycling Fietsje and I had fallen into a comfortable routine: a quick charge up of the battery at night (hers with the charger, mine with a glass of wine and my e-Reader) , and an early start.
Looking over my route, I had decided not to attempt the Afsluitdijk connecting Noord-Holland to Friesland (the wind had shifted and would be blowing straight into my face by now), but would cycle from Hoogkarspel to Enkhuizen instead, and there would board the ferry to Stavoren in Friesland. Jan had assured me it only took 75 minutes to get there, and my kms were easy-peasy that day. Not around 85, but only around 28.
Cycling merrily along, I got into my Zen mode. Reaching this state of being became easier by the day. My ordinary life at home, and my stressful-but-exciting life at school I could shed with no trouble at all. At home I was Mum, Wife, Secretary, Helper, Gardener, Washerwoman, Cleaner-cum-occasional-Housepainter, Justice-of-thePeace, Cook, Cat-Pleaser and Dog-Commander and General Peacekeeper.
On Fietsje I was simply Renée. And I LOVED it!
Enkhuizen beckoned. Following my knooppunten to the harbour (and the ferry) I was overcome with admiration. What a gorgeous town! The rain made it very quiet, so I could enjoy it all the better. I decided to buy my boarding pass first, and was told the ferry had left only 20 minutes ago. The next one was to leave at 12.30. Gulp! It was ten to nine...
Oh well, all the more time to enjoy Enkhuizen! But there was no guarded bicycle shed, so that meant taking Fietsje along. We wound our way through the Golden Age alleys and streets, and could have taken 100 photos (but didn't; my mobile was still protesting my every move).
But the rain got the better of me. Around 9.45 I was soaked to the skin again and squelching in my shoes. This made me feel cold.
Time to find a café that was open. I found one opposite the Drommedaris, the famous town tower.
"Do come in out of the rain and get warm," the friendly bargirl proposed. But I didn't dare leave Fietsje alone and chose to sit outside on the terrace, as had become my habit during this road trip.
"I'll put the terrace heater on for you," she said. Bless her heart!
A coffee, chocolate cake and a Beerenburger (from Wikipedia: In terms of alcoholic beverages, the region is renowned for its many bitters (such as Beerenburg) and other high-proof liquors) soon hit the right spot. And the heater dried out my hair and wet rain suit very nicely.
At 12.15 I was ready to board the ferry to Stavoren. Fietsje was the first one on (make a note of this, you'll need the info later), and I chose a spot near the window whilst the boat hand tied up my bike. An old lady from Steenbergen asked me politely if she could join me. Certainly!
Her life story was a fascinating one. 88 Years of age, she was still having her adventures around the Wetlands, travelling by train these days. And another lady (67), also cycling on her own, joined us as well.
We spent a very pleasant hour chatting about travelling solo, and how it enriched our lives. In the meantime the wind had shifted yet again, and had strengthened from an okay 3 to a raging 7.
The water was crashing against the window, and the assembled tourists, many of them German cyclists, became more and more quiet. I checked if Fietsje was still tied to the railings. She was. My 88 year old companion didn't bat an eyelid and ordered a beer. My other companion smiled at me and told me about a wonderful cyclists association. I watched the waves and thought about the Titanic. Cannot think why...
When we docked at Stavoren Fietsje was the last one to leave the ferry. Causing me to miss the train to Leeuwarden...
My cyclist companion Tilia had advised me to take the Arriva train, as there were thunder storms over Friesland and I would find no shelter at all. She did the same, getting off at Sneek.
So...we three spent another hour waiting for the next train on a windy, wet, deserted platform. But at least I had plenty of time to text my friend in Friesland that I was taking a train, instead of cycling towards her. She cheerfully told me to meet her at Leeuwarden station, and that we could travel to Zwaagwesteinde together. What fun!
It went off without a hitch. Taking Fietsje along on trains was a piece of cake (at least it was on the Arriva trains). I even remembered to check out. At Zwaagwesteinde my friend Tessa took her car; I took Fietsje.
Her neighbour Gerda helped me find Tessa in her out-of-the-way nature reserve, and I met Tessa's cat Tommy for the first time. (People reading my blogs more often know that this counts as a major event in my life).
Another goal reached!
When I sat drinking great whisky with Rein and Tessa (tea!) that evening, I realised I was having the time of my life.
My tip for wanna-be knooppunten cyclistst: do not get tempted to let your bicycle be the first one on a ferry!