The first few days oriented the group to the geography of The Netherlands (especially around Delft) and exposed us to cycling in both urban and rural areas. We also gained some insight into the culture and lifestyle of Delft.
From AMS to Delft
Taking a 10-hour flight from PDX to AMS left me a bit tired, since 8:30 AM on arrival felt like bedtime (11:30 PM) to me and I had only managed to get maybe an hour of sleep on the plane, but our first day was a relatively full one. The three of us who had arrived on Friday at 8:30 AM took the train to Delft with the help of Prof. Bertini. The trains were clean and comfortable, and the ride was about 40 minutes from AMS to Deft central station.
We saw our first windmills and some of the Dutch countryside. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the bicycle parking at the train station, which easily exceeded anything I had ever seen in America. I’m sure the bicycle parking at the Amsterdam train stations exceed those in the smaller towns like Delft (population ~ 100k).
Cycling Tour with WSTLUR
After dropping our bags at the hostel, we picked up our bicycles from TU Delft. The bicycles came from Brick-Fit, which employs the handicapped to refurbish abandoned bikes. I picked the most American looking bike I could find from among the group, complete with flat top tube and flat handlebars. All the bikes use coaster brakes, which are common in the Netherlands, but I can’t say I’m completely comfortable with.
The tour was a great time, allowing us our first look at both the urban and rural cycling environments and infrastructure within The Netherlands around Delft. The route took us through quaint small towns around Delft and rural areas with fantastic views. A highlight of the trip was using a manual crank ferry to transport 22 people and bikes across a canal (see videos below).
Cycling Trip to The Hague (Den Haag)
After finally being able to sleep for a night (after ~30 hours of being awake) , we took a day trip through The Hague to a beach in Scheveningen. This beach town was sort of like many I’ve been to along the Jersey coast — built up with high-rise apartments and malls; though with a Dutch flair. And of course, it was comfortably accessible by bicycle, which unfortunately is not something New Jersey can boast. We laid out on the beach and reflected on our first few days abroad. One highlight along the way was the grass and tree covered tram-ways — which helped the light rail transit to blend into the surroundings much more.
Cycling Trip to Rotterdam and The Kinderdikj
On Sunday, we took what will likely be our longest ride on the trip (about 30 km each way). We rode from Delft through Rotterdam to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Kinderdikj. The trip involved crossing the beautiful cable-stayed Erasmus Bridge and a short ferry ride across a large canal just past the Rotterdam port. Seeing The Kinderdikj was like stepping into a postcard: Dutch children played in the grass lined canals while windmills whirred peacefully in the background; bicycles hummed up and down the paths and ducks quacked in rhythm. It was definitely a lifetime experience I’ll always remember from this trip.
Netherlands vs. Mexico
To make the trip even more of a once in a lifetime experience, The Netherlands and Mexico were playing in the first round of the World Cup (and won!) while we were in the country. While not transportation related, this experience did give us some insight to the Dutch culture as related to parties and public events. Hup Holland!
Cycling Tour of Inner Delft
The Northeastern University students arrived Monday morning, and we were given a tour of inner Delft. This gave everybody a chance to turn their wheels, as some students hadn’t biked in quite some time. We were rolling fairly quickly, and were introduced to some of Peter Furth’s favorite nearby sites, such as the east gate and a petting zoo for children. I’m looking forward to all the knowledge to take in from my teachers and my peers on this trip!