Saturday, September 26, 2009

Groningen, Netherlands

We rented a house in Groningen, at the very north of Holland, a mere 3 hour drive from Hamburg. 5 days of relaxation and bikes. Basically that is it. We were lucky to have scored a rental house, just outside of the city, in a overgrown bamboo and palm tree laden yard. It felt like being in Thailand, it was so green and lush. The house itself was like a cabin, plenty of room for the 3 of us, recycled wood look, stone floors, it was really a cool place, and somewhere we will return again.

Groningen is a college town and is home to the highest rate of cycle use in the western world. Over 60% of all trips are taken by bikes here. It was scary and breathtaking and awe inspiring all the same time. We had ridden in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities before, but this was insane. At one point, we were in the 5pm rush hour near the city center, and we had to wait for a two cycles of the lights to turn before it was our turn to go through. Takes alot of balls and guts to get used to the crowds and the speeds of the cyclers. A couple times, we stopped and just watched the variety of people on bikes...young, old, fat, small, tall...everyone rides a bike, and the infrastructure can handle all of the traffic. The train station had 3 floors of bike parking, which each floor was double decked. Bikes rule this place, and trying to drive, or even walk anywhere is a challenge, because you have to be constantly aware of bike paths and people whizzing by. One thing we learned very quickly was that busses do not stop at a crosswalk, I was almost hit as I triued to Germany all drivers yield to cyclists. But in Groningen, if the busses were to stop for cyclists crossing, they would never get to their destination on time...there are so many of them, they would just sit there.

The house had 4 bikes for us to use, but I wanted to rent a bakfiets again, so we did that. This time it was a 3 wheeled bakfiets. Mayzie loved it, and we cruised out to the countryside and through the city, very slowly. The ride from our house to the city was through a beautiful, peaceful park. All is flat. Everytime I go to Holland I want to move is a place I could enjoy and be happy for awhile. People actually said Hi to us on the street, on the bikes. The quality of life ooozes goodness here. The TV is even in English, which was a nice, since we do not watch TV in Germany at all. We watched some movies commercial free and even Little House on the Prairie. Damn you Germany and your over- dubbing!

1 comment:

Troy said...

Whoa, you guys rented a windmill? Sweet! jk

It's funny how visibly different the bikes are in that photo where everybody is riding. All these dutch bikes... where are the road bikes? All the riders are so upright. And where are the helmets? I can do without the spandex.