Saturday 16 June 2018
This was our first and only rest day on the tour. We probably didn’t actually need it as we were well into the rhythm of cycling and life is simple when you are on a bike tour – eat, sleep, ride – but we had planned to stop here and it would give us the chance to visit Delft. I had spent a night there on my Berlin to London trike tour many years ago and fancied a more leisurely look at the town, home of Vermeer (he of Girl with a Pearl Earring fame).
Our hosts told us how to get there and also explained the slightly complicated OV-Chipkaart system. It’s like a slightly more complicated London Oyster card. Our hosts had one card we could use (just paying for the trip we made) and Annet our hostess popped to the local supermarket and got us a second one so we could both travel. Very helpful!
We had a leisurely morning but set off at about half past ten, walking to the tram stop and then taking a tram to Den Haag Hollandse Spoor station and from there to Delft.
Once we arrived in Delft it was definitely cake time so we sat beside one of the many canals and enjoyed some Dutch cake. I had a Delftse Bol which was like a giant profiterole with a. Bit of confectioners’ custard in. We also drank tea and coffee of course.
After refuelling it was time for a wander around Delft which is a really pretty town, although heaving with tourists and with endless stalls with bric a brac and junk, and of course lots of Delftware painted ceramics.
It must be interesting to have your front door opening into a canal.
And with some baby coots living underneath your front doorstep.
We walked around a fair bit seeing the sights. It’s beautiful but also sad to see in almost every bit of canal we looked at there was a plastic bag floating. There were lots of cigarette butts around too – we watched a guy on a tour boat just chuck his lit cigarette into the water; five minutes before a coot had been feeding her three young from fishing at the bottom of the canal.
As it was lunchtime we stopped for some soup. This is mustard soup which seems to be a thing in NL as it has been the Soup of the Day twice so far. It was nice!
Whilst we were eating our lunch we had a message from Alex to say that the new battery charger for our velomobiles had arrived at his house and he would meet us in Delft. So we whiled away the time drinking tea and watching the birds on the water and the passers-by on their varied bikes.
Alex arrived and gave us our very special gift!
And here it is, once we got home, doing the right thing (orange light!)
Alex headed home fairly soon after. He had arrived on a hire bike via the train from Rotterdam. He explained the system to us, and that the bikes with blue front wheels were also hire bikes mostly used by students. He also explained to me why I had seen several rucksacks hanging from flagpoles outside houses – this signifies that someone has graduated from high school.
The school holidays have already started in NL so that’s almost a month earlier than in the UK, but they get longer holidays – I think he said twelve weeks.
Klaus and I got the two trams back and then stopped off at the supermarket to get some chocolate (important!) and cake (also important!)
Our hosts have to go out early tomorrow morning so we would have to leave before 8:30am so got everything ready. The bike trackers were charged up, I attempted to dry the rain cover for Millie (that I put away wet when we left Egmond) and we relaxed some more. I watched a BBC summary of the World Cup so far.
We walked to a very nice Italian restaurant for dinner and Klaus treated himself to some red wine.
On the way back we passed a mini filling station just in the street!
Tomorrow Alex will ride some of the way with us and will meet us in Maassluis. He had sent us a slightly revised route for the day which avoids an appalling Drempel and also improves a few routes. Tomorrow is a shorter day again so we can ride in a more leisurely style as it’s less of a rush and we are staying in a hotel. We have a longer ferry journey across the Maas to enjoy.