I could have spent another day in the quaint university town of Leiden. It was very beautiful. Alas, we were due at the airport to fly home to Calgary.
We ate our breakfast at the hotel as it was included in our room rate: eggs, bread, croissants, Chocomel, crappy coffee, and lots of boterham met hagelslaak.
Last leg before home
And then we rolled our last couple of kilometres of the trip, to Leiden Centraal, converted the WIKE to a stroller and went to buy tickets for our bikes at the booth (we already had our people-tickets via their app).
By now we had mastered getting in to the train station with all of our stuff, by using the wider wheelchair, stroller entrance and just scanning once and not letting the doors close! It might have been against the rules but we had paid for everything and it was the only way that we could get through with the gear and kids.
We did what felt like the fox, goose, and bag of beans puzzle with all of us and the elevator again as it was one of the smaller ones like in Breukelen that only fit one of us at a time with a bike (well, our 4 year old went in the WIKE and our 7 year old pushed it and operated the elevator). We made it to the platform! Those small victories are important in these mildly stressful points of travel.
And we lined up perfectly with the bike car on this train! But then we got inside and realized that it was also the toiled train and that there really was hardly any room at all. We blocked the whole corridor! And then someone wanted to use the bathroom! Somehow we made it work. The car that we snagged from Breukelen to Rotterdam was spacious with no toilet and lots of folding seats. This car was less than ideal, but it was a fairly short ride to Schiphol.
Packing up for the flight
We made it to the airport and were graced with their gigantic elevators to get up to the departure level for our flight. We started looking around for an out-of-the-way place to disassemble our bikes and pack everything up but didn’t really find one big enough for all four of us. So, we plunked ourselves next to our check-in area, away from the line. It worked! Although we did get some questions.
My husband and I were a little stressed about this step of the journey, since it had taken us days to pack but we were only giving ourselves a couple of hours to ready ourselves for the flight home! However, we managed to do it all in just over an hour which was very satisfying. Practice makes better, that’s for sure, and flying with bikes is truly becoming a familiar process.
We bagged my Troll in a Ground Effect Tardis bag, ditto for the girls two bikes (in one bag) along with the FollowMe Tandem and the WIKE bike tow bar. I used our frying pan and larger pot lid to protect my discs on the way home along with some fleece jackets, everything was safe and sound. (In hindsight, I would have protected the girls bikes a bit more with spare clothing as I did manage to scratch their frames a bit.)
We pulled the Haul-a-Day apart at its OSATA joint, folded it in half, protected all of the important bits with what we had saved from the flight out and some quick-dry towels, etc. that we had been travelling with. And then we wrapped the Haul-a-Day back in its plastic sheath that we had saved from the trip out.
No one was queued for checking in when we started, but by the time we were all ready there was quite a long line. We had time so we weren’t worried, but a nice employee helped us to skip the queue because she had seen that we had been there for an hour already. Super kind, especially with the kids. Air Transat for the win again!
We checked in. One of our bags went down not tagged, gah! (It worked out in the end.) We went over to drop off the bikes and WIKE. I had paid for all of our bikes and luggage tags already in Canada to keep the cost lower (i.e. paying in Canadian dollars and not having to pay extra taxes or airport fees at the departing airport).
We just needed bathrooms and food at this point. We were all bonking a bit as we had been getting ready for an hour and then checking in and it was definitely lunchtime in our bellies.
My husband scurried off to hit up the Albert Heijn one more time and then we all went through security. Which was so friendly, especially with the kids, nothing like the surly fear-mongering expressions encountered in North America.
Then we ate and we waited. Jamie Oliver restaurant for the delicious win!
The flight home was simple and uneventful. We all watched TV. I got some writing done on my iPad and had downloaded Season 5 of the Game of Thrones to binge watch and it worked. The kids mostly consumed the in-flight entertainment. They might have even slept a bit near the end, I can’t recall now!
And that was that. We had a bit of a hiccup coming through security back into Canada as we had re-purposed the plastic bag the airport had given us on the trip out (to hold our three dry bags together as one piece of luggage) as a groundsheet on a couple of the wetter days of camping so it had grass particles all over it! We had to go aside and take it off and give it to them, which turned out to be a super simple process but strained us all a bit as we just wanted to get home by this point!
Now we are home, we have to make our own krentenbollen and we get to go hike or ride in our beautiful mountains, on foot, mountain bike rides, or short bikepacking tours. I am stoked to have the whole summer to explore at home but look forward to heading back to Europe, to be sure.
Just a couple of weeks of school remain and my eldest is back to her commute. We miss the incredible infrastructure of the Netherlands but are grateful for where we do live in Calgary with its above average options by North American standards (even by Calgarian standards, really). Thankfully she’s just tall enough to reach this beg button, now!
Journal entries from our trip
- Overseas travel day: car, plane, train, & bike!
- Day 1 Riding: Arnhem through the Veluwezoom to near Loenen
- Day 2 Riding: Hoge Veluwe National Park
- Day 3 Riding: Westward ho!
- Day 4 Riding + Rest Day: Leersum to Bunnik + Utrecht
- Day 5 Riding: Utrecht to Fort Spion
- Day 6 Riding: Multimodal day, Fort Spion to Dordrecht via Rotterdam
- Day 7 Riding: Rest days, then Dordrecht to just outside of Delft
- Day 8 Riding: via Delft to Den Haag, plus a rest day
- Day 9: Den Haag to Leiden via the North Sea Route