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Rest days in Dordrecht & area

We spent two days/three nights in Dordrecht, staying with my husband’s cousin and his family who had kids roughly our kids’ ages, which was fun for them, especially once the initial shyness wore off!

We ditched the bikes for a few days and really lucked out again with the weather. There was a wicked rain and wind storm Friday night that brought down tree branches and all — I went for a quick bike ride to the grocery store on Saturday and saw only a handful of bikes at the rack and only one other rider! Even cars were scarce. Extreme weather on a weekend can stop even the Dutch, or so it seemed.

Bowling and de Biesbosch

While the weather cancelled a day of boating in the Nationaal Park De Biesbosch with all of my husband’s cousins and their families, we managed to get together anyway and go bowling (ha!). The weather lightened up significantly while we were in the bowling alley so we ended up going for a walk in the Biesbosch which was lovely. We found another great playground for the kids, including an awesome zip line with a water feature that the kids had to glide over — my kids are still talking about it.

As an aside, the Biesbosch has a super interesting history. My father-in-law was telling me how the Dutch hid in this giant wetland area during the war because it was an extremely challenging place to navigate, unless you had grown up there. So, it was difficult for the Nazis to enter because one second you would be on land, while the next step might look solid but could swallow up a body! Local’s only!

Efteling

On Sunday, we drove the kids to the Efteling theme park for a day of fairy tales and fairies. I’m not much for these sorts of things but my husband has very fond childhood memories of the place and his dad gifted us admission because he thought the kids would love it; he was right and they did.

little girls dream come true meeting cinderella

Driving

We were very fortunate to be able to borrow a car for our stay in Dordrecht, to be able to meet up with family and also to go to the Efteling. But, my oh my, was it every bizarre to be in a car again. And I think it totally skewed my perception of Dordrecht until we got back on the bikes Monday.

Other than the old town, Dordrecht seems hugely car-oriented. I am sure that I am wrong, but that is my view of the city because that is how I largely experienced it. Even though we were staying right on an LF route! I mean, this picture says a lot:

trucks in Europe

It’s a fact that the Dutch love cars. It’s true! Something that is really missing from the dialogue in active transportation, in my humble opinion. In North America, all we hear is how the Dutch bike everywhere and this is absolutely not true for many, including much of my husband’s extended family. But many people do bike for lots of short trips. People here still own cars and use them. My understanding is that car ownership growth rate has declined significantly over the last twenty years and I would be curious to learn if this is a generational thing or not. And yet there is an overwhelming level of empathy for other. Yes, I did hear some snarky comments about how not everyone is respectful of cyclists, but from what we saw and experienced, this negative attitude is very much in the minority.

On the road again…

I was very happy to hit the road again Monday morning, but I think I was the only one! Everyone was grumpy switching gears. The kids were sad to leave their second cousins and playmates especially now that the ice had been broken. And there was a new rhythm to our day, yet again.

biking en famille dordrecht

We rode in to Dordrecht with my husband’s cousin and his family. Apparently that was his cousin’s fourth time on a bike in the last year or two! His wife rides and the kids ride (or at least their older child does).

old dordrecht waterfront

Dordrecht

Old Dordrecht is lovely and very old. We rode by one street where the street was closed and there was a whole block of tables and benches set up. A newer organic cafe had recently opened there and offered a breakfast for older and/or lonely people and it was full. I just loved that idea.

Waterbus to Rotterdam

We said goodbye to family and hopped on the water bus and took it all the way back to Rotterdam.

waterbus netherlands

Then we rode through the western side of Rotterdam and it was awful. The LF route was sterile (albeit a cycle path which was nice), the buildings were modern and not human scale, and there was garbage everywhere. The city felt weird, although it was a holiday Monday so perhaps that explains it. I felt like we stuck out like sore thumbs, all brightly coloured in our rain gear. We went off the LF route trying to find some older more quaint buildings but did not succeed (we missed it by about a block or two, in hindsight). So, I wasn’t very happy riding through here. I quite liked the more modern downtown that we saw when we arrived by train a few days ago, but I despised the impersonal apartment buildings that we were surrounded by. It seemed like a horrible place to live. A lot of Rotterdam was obliterated by bombing during the war which led to more modern redevelopment, post-war, with wider streets and “modern” buildings. The wider streets led to less conflict between car, cyclist, and pedestrian because there is lots of room to implement separate infrastructure for the different modes, but it was in such stark contrast to much of the human-scaled development that we had been traveling through that my brain just couldn’t handle it and I wanted out. I’m sure that if we spent more time there we could have gotten a better feel for it, I won’t rule it out completely as a place to visit! But, we didn’t have enough time to process it all on our quick trip through and it felt more like an assault on my senses.

netherlands flowers everywhere

We found a nice part of Schiedam and then we started to head towards our campground just south of Delft. And then we got absolutely poured on. Our first night camping really wet! It worked out though. The campsite was meh but we managed to eat under a tiny bit of shelter and set up the tent in a dry spell. So, it was fine! It was nice to have our weather-confidence built up a little bit.

canal schiedam

Our trip