June 28, 2012
Satnavs, it’s a miracle they work at all. We should be grateful they get us within cooee of our destination in one piece.
The fact they direct us via the middle of a car-free shopping mall, where we are forced to putt-putt behind mothers and young children while security types glare at us is not their fault. Maybe we should check we’ve input the correct address next time. Oops!
Groningen – pronounced with a guttural H – is a university city a couple of hours north of Amsterdam that has truly embraced the concept of bicycle as king. There is a whole section of the city centre where cars (and motorcycles) are banned. Bicycles and pedestrians only. How were we to know?
Our excursion en route to the Hotel De Doelen, in the Grand Market, was fraught, especially as we were running low on fuel. But we got there eventually, thanks to some friendly Dutch shopkeepers, and discovered another gem.
Ringed by a canal, the city centre was abuzz with people eating and drinking and walking and shopping.
The plaza out the front of our hotel was the perfect place to sip a beer and watch the world go by.
Some friendly British bikers – who we met on the road north (crossing a modern engineering marvel, the 30-kilometre-long dam wall built to divide the Zuiderzee *must google that) suggested we catch a train from Groningen to the Assen race circuit. Apparently it’s the done thing.
It was, and we did; and it was very relaxing to be able to park the bike for three days.
The Assen circuit was more old-school compared to Silverstone – only one covered stand, no free shuttle buses and loads of rubbish left thrown on the ground. But we had excellent seats, the weather stayed fine and Casey won. Australians all let us rejoice … Graham and I sang the national anthem.