Tuesday 9.8.2011 10km Total:2924km
We'd gotten several nice tips for riding around the area by John and Linsay but the weather didn't really inspire to any longer detours so we went straight into Groningen and parked up.
There was a desperate lack of available parking so I just put the bike on a traffic island and walk to a guy tinkering with his bike in a garage and asks if he knows where we can park a couple of bikes.
He just looks me up and down like I'm a complete idiot before replying: Wherever the fuck you like.
Parking issue = solved. We put both bikes on a traffic attitude and put our money on the dude being as on the spot as he had a bad attitude.
We head straight for the obvious tourist attraction Grote Markt and Martini church with its spectacular towers.
The Martini church was built in the 1200:sand has an interior to really take your breath away, just the organ is really a piece of art.
That the had self-service of coffee in one of the rooms in the church didn't make the experience any worse either.
For a small fee we went up in the towers and took in the view.
Since Groningen was on our itinerary we had nothing really we'd set out to see and the was just as well as we then could wander around aimlessly and just enjoy the old cobbled streets and wonderful architecture.
The stereotypical image of Holland with their network of canals was also confirmed immediately and there was great entertainment value to be had just walking between them and looking at the floating armada of house boats, prams and floating restaurants.
We had dinner on a pancake boat where the served everything from a pretty traditional pancake to just using a pancake as a coaster for an entire meal.
I was a bit cautious and had one with bananas and nuts while the Bear went all in and got a pancake with chicken and coleslaw.
We spent the evening with John and Lindsay where we planned a bit for the next part of the trip.
The only really realistic tip we got from John was to visit the village of Bolsward on the way to Amsterdam.
He had obviously done a lot of touring himself and pointed all over the map of the entire western europe while exclaiming not far, not far.
Lindsay was a big Terry Pratchett fan and wanted to use us as an excuse to rewatch The Hogfather.
Even if Pratchett didn't win me entirely over it was no sacrifise at all.
Wednesday 10.8.2011 227km Total:3151km
We reluctantly leave Bike Motel behind us and ride on.
Like almost every day before we don't get far before the heavens open up, it has unfortunately become somewhat of a theme on this trip.
By now we've gotten into a routine of stopping at the first sight of rain and suiting up in rain gear.
Most of the tips we got from John "not far" Bex wasn't really realistically doable but Bolsward was really on the way and was well worth the visit with its old spectacular architecture.
After taking refuge from the rain in a rather bizarre art exhibit we via an old church find our way to the city centre and a sporting goods shop where Bear needs a replacement for his raingear that sprung a leak.
We get lunch before moving on and a couple of dozen kms later before really getting anywhere near Amsterdam there's a tourist information where we stop and ask for help.
We explain that we're intending to stay a few days and that our main concern is where to park the bikes.
She nods sympathetically with regard to the bike dilemma and unfolds a humongous map that spills out all over the edges of the counter and starts pointing about.
She circles all of central Amsterdam with her index finger and says that this is completely out of the question.
The outskirts/suburbs suffer the same fate: No, not secure. Not secure at all.
The way I see it she's by now not anywhere near Amsterdam with her secure parking searching finger but she says no, I wouldn't even park my push-bike in this area.
The index finger is now at least 20kms outside Amsterdam but she assures us that there is excellent public transport available.
Since we definitely don't know any better we go with the index fingers judgement which is Purmerend. There your bikes will be safe.
Upon arrival it doesn't exactly scream urban metropolis and Garmin doesn't list a single hotel.
I make a celebrated appearance at what seemed to be some kind of womens association wine tasting or possibly a hen party in a local shop and ask about a hotel and get directions to the hotel as there is only one and it's simply called Hotel Purmerend.
No matter, after all we only need the one.
We again make a celebrated appearance by parking on the wrong side of the hotel whereby we have to walk through the whole restaurant where the waiters raise both there noses and eyebrows to indicate that we're out of our class walking around here in bike gear.
Even the small kids in the restaurant having dinner had tiny tuxedos and fine dresses on, it was like a time-capsule from 60 years ago.
The price tag of the room and the offer of free parking in their fenced off staff parking however meant that we'd come to just the right place for us.
After lugging all of our gear to the room we just out of spite rummage around after the most offensive Wacken-merch we could find.
In my case it was a Pantera t-shirt with a skeleton and a confederate flag while Bear had a Hammerfall t-shirt and wrapped the bike-chain around his neck like a scarf while we walked through the restaurant again to lock up the bikes.
The waiters are by now exuding pure hatred and the poshly dressed older ladies in the restaurant looks like they'll have a full cardiac arrest at any moment.
We really do try our best to be better ambassadors for Sweden and the biking community when we're travelling but sometimes you just get so provokingly bad treatment that you can't help but live up to the prejudices they obviously already have cemented.
Possibly a bit of a daring choice but after settling in the room we make our way down to the restaurant again (albeit a bit more discretely dressed this time) and get supper as it's already too late to go anywhere else today.
I didn't taste any saliva in the meal but just to be on the safe side I washed it down with a bit of internal disinfectant just to be sure.
Thursday 11.8.2011 0km
The index finger was right, the public transport was excellent so after a hearty breakfast we're on the bus to Amsterdam.
We disembark at the central station and the very first thing we see is a canal tour bout company.
It felt like something you really should do so we got on and got an hour-long guided tour by way of the canals.
The weather was a bit on the grey side but it was still worth it.
When we get into the city proper I'm a bit dismayed by the fact that there only seem to be tourist traps wherever you look.
Every other shop is either a coffeeshop or a gift shop with "I love Amsterdam" t-shirts.
After a couple of blocks of that I definitely can't say I feel any deep love for Amsterdam and I haven't heard a word spoken in Dutch since we got off the bus.
We managed to find our way out of the worst touristy areas and it gets a lot better, Amsterdam is after all a rather beautiful city.
A beer shop proved irresistible so we shuffle in to scope out the goods, there should be some perks of travelling by public transport for once.
I find a banana-beer and ask where I can get it without getting arrested.
The clerks reply nowhere was not the greatest selling argument I've ever heard which he probably read just by looking at my face so he corrects himself and says to sit down by the canal and look like a tourist and you'll be fine.
Perfect. Looking like a tourist is one of my many talents.
Conclusion: The rozzers probably thought the banana-beer was punishment enough (which it was) so we suffered no judicial consequences.
The Dutch shut all the serious tourist attractions at 4PM so that means we'll have to find an unserious attraction and walk down to the Amsterdam torture museum.
We also managed to get into the Amsterdam museum of modern art which was open despite the late hour.
That "art" was completely wasted on me, most of it I fail to even recognize as art.
And speaking of unserious tourist attractions we obviously walked through the Red light district De Wallen.
Helpful enough it was marked as an attraction on our tourist map an we were obviously not alone in our curiosity because it was well worth the visit just for the surreal experience of watching families with children walking hand in hand past seedy bars with Hells Angels hanging around and of course the prostitutes in the red-curtained windows.
Lacking in imagination we get supper at Hard Rock café but it was a good meal.
The gloomy weather might have had something to do with it but we soon came to the decision to move on tomorrow despite having the possibility to stay another day.
Anne Frank House. The line to get in was completely ridiculous so we skipped it.