Taking a train whilst taking along a bicycle, is allowed in the Wetlands. So it was with a cheerful and optimistic mind that I wheeled Fietsje into Groningen Central Station on the Saturday morning.
I had just had rain shower number umpteen on my head, but was looking forward to a relaxed two hours on the train to Harderwijk. I had looked it up on Google, just to be sure, and yes, there definitely was a train to Harderwijk, going via Zwolle.
Fietsje and I had to wait a couple of minutes at the ticket machine, but I had her ticket of €6,00 soon in my pocket and looked around to see what platform we needed. When I spied an NS employee, I walked up to him to ask him if I needed to change trains at Zwolle. What came next was the following bizarre conversation:
Me: Good morning, am I correct in assuming I need to change at Zwolle to get to Harderwijk?
NS: Yes, you are.
Me: Is there a direct train?
NS: No, there isn't, you need the train to Zwolle.
Me: Great, thank you.
NS: Platform 6. But it only goes to Zwolle.
Me: Erm...yes, but there I'll change for Harderwijk.
NS: It goes as far as Zwolle. There is no train from Zwolle to Harderwijk this weekend.
Me: Excuse me?
NS: They are working on the lines. So the train stops at Zwolle.
Me: But I need to go to Harderwijk!
NS: Yes, you'll have to take the bus from Zwolle to 't Harde and there you can get a train.
Me: Oh...phew, that's a relief! A bus! Great, thanks.
NS: But that bus doesn't take bicycles.
Me: No bikes? But I am taking my bike...
NS: So you cannot take that bus.
Me: So how do I get to Harderwijk?
NS: You can't. You can get to Zwolle though. Platform 6.
Long story short: I got to Zwolle and got off.
I had decided to cycle to Harderwijk; 40 km. But when I tried to get out of Zwolle, I got another setback. Some joker (okay, I called him a moron on FB) had given the signpost a good kick, making the sign to Harderwijk point exactly 180 degrees in the wrong way. And I only found out after 30 minutes. Thus had to cycle 30 minutes back to where I started. One of the numerous old men I talked to on my road trip came to my rescue. Resulting in the second classic conversation of the day:
Me: Can you please point me in the right direction for Harderwijk?
Me: So..? Harderwijk?
Him: That way.
Me: Thank you very much. I just wanted to make sure.
Him: Told you. That way.
Me: Thanks again.
Him: On THAT?!! (pointing at Fietsje with an incredulous face)
Him: But that is very, very far!!!
Me: I know. But I like cycling.
Him: You are crazy.
Me: No no no, I like cycling, it's okay.
Him: You crazy mad woman! Well, suit yourself! Crazy woman!
He's probably still standing there in his Manchester trousers on his wooden shoes, muttering about crazy women.
My trip along the 40 km long Zuiderzeeweg was nice, but uneventful. I passed lovely farms, and friendly boys, and goats and such. But the most exciting thing that happened was that I got showered with acorns from time to time.
And I noticed that butchers close early, even on a Saturday.
In exactly two hours I reached the outskirts of Harderwijk, and my final destination.
It had been an adventure!
And simply wonderful. Who needs trips to far-away places? The Wetlands, my Wetlands, had turned out to be lovelier than I had imagined.
This journey had started from a desire to reconnect with my roots, and a desire to have a road trip without pre-booked resting places. I would go where the wind blew me.
And I got what I desired. Lots of wind, more rain than I imagined possible, and the cobwebs were gone completely. Plus the wind blew away the blues of the downing of that Malaysian plane and the atrocities of War and gave me new energy.
To celebrate, two songs that I think are appropriate.
|C Wibe Koopman|