Monday, July 16, 2012

Netherlands July 16

I left at around 5pm Buffalo time.  The flight is about 8 hrs, but travels back 6 time zones. This puts me in early the next day. Last night I deliberately slept for only 4 hours, so sleeping on the plane would be less difficult. I watched one movie and then slept a bit, on and off. This flight has many empty seats and the one next to me was empty, making sleep much more comfortable and likely.  We passed a huge thunderhead spewing lightning, which towered above the surrounding cloud bank but we were above and to the side of it.  For the most part there is a continuous carpet of clouds below us, with some beautiful thunderheads, which we were above.
 Windmills near Windsor, Ontario and again in France maybe, an oil rig off the coast of Holland. The clouds below us over the ocean were distinctly cotton candy pink, even though we were long past dawn.
Note the field of wind turbines off the coast.
Totally a land of water

Bill managed to find me right off and gave me my first lessons in cycling in the Netherlands. It started raining as soon as we left the airport and never stopped, though at least it was about 60 or 65 degrees.  There are roads where the two way car traffic gets only one lane and the cyclists get two.  And the cars have to wait if there is not room for all to pass. The drivers scare me sometimes, because they are forced to pass so close, but they are used to it and there is no maliciousness.  Flying overhead it had looked like there were pastures without fences, ditches serving that purpose and while cycling around, it was clear that the ditches are quite effective for that purpose. Arriving in Utecht was an eye opener, since the first sight you come across is the red light district. Little rooms perched on the edge of the canal, about two in a space equivalent to a shipping container, the women show their wares through picture windows with red neon down the sides. They all had on bras and underwear and weren't terribly risqué, but most were talking or looking at their phones. It is unclear whether they are engaged in sex chat or talking to friends or just surfing. Just a little further down the canal, beautiful canal/house boats line the edges.  We have seen several windmills already.  It appears there are only 900 left, but they are heavily protected.  It is supposed to be as difficult to run them as to pilot a ship. We arrived in Utrecht quite soaked and searched for the hostel and then a specific hotel, but finally gave up in exasperation and took a pretty pricy hotel. We dried our clothes on the heating registers successfully. Utech isn't especially lovely downtown, mostly owing to the massive railway station construction going on, the rest owing to the rain and grey. Thousands of bicycles are parked on every permissible surface.
On a separate note, Bill got 2 free pieces of luggage, though he only used one and brought his boxed bike for $50 via Icelandic air, while I only got one piece of checked luggage and had to pay $80 for my second piece (that being my bike in its suitcase). He may have gotten a better deal, depending on how much he paid for his ticket. He threw out his cardboard bike box and will buy another for the return trip (I think maybe he said he can buy it from the airline for about $25).

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