Bikes, Trains, and (no) Automobiles
I’m typing this on the way to Maastricht, a 2 ½ hour ride by rail south from Amsterdam. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Europe, so you forget how efficient and normal train travel is here. What’s been an added bonus is that I decided that I would take my rented bike with me. At 7 Euros a day, it’s the perfect way to navigate around Amsterdam and other Dutch cities.<p></p> I was worried whether bringing along a bike would be worth the hassle. I’ve come to realize that so far, it would have been more of a hassle had I not brought one on. There are a few caveats: you can’t take the bike on during peak hours, and if you don’t have a collapsible bicycle, you need to buy a daily bike pass that will set you back all of 6 ½ Euros. On the way to Maastricht, I stopped in Utrecht, a university town about 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam. I just hopped off the train, made sure I wasn’t in anyone’s way, and took the stairs down before I made my way to the center. The ride took 5 minutes. Just a few words of advice: wear good shoes—since my tennis shoes got SOAKED yesterday in the Amsterdam rain, they weren’t quite ready yet for an overnight trip—so I bought a pair of light slip-ons that are fashionable, but not the most sturdy. To that end, don’t count on climbing a 100-meter tower like I did—I stopped by Utrecht’s Domkerk and ambled up the adjacent Domtoren—which offered wonderful views despite the grey weather. Finally, ad pack light—you want the trip to be enjoyable so packing as if you are climbing Everest just makes you more tired. I’ve still got my Gap Outlet 2002 backpack that’s on its last zipper—just enough room for a change of clothes, my travel gadgets, and room for an energy bar or too. I’m working on one of my low-budget videos on biking across the Netherlands, easier of course, when you take shortcuts on the train. Oh, and there’s another tip: don’t try to use your Flip video camera and bike at the same time on a cobblestone street unless you are very coordinated.