After days of cold rain, the day we had to leave the lovely Vecht dawned sunny, crystal clear, rain-washed, sparkling – and 55 degrees. We left well bundled and had a delightful ride through mostly rural countryside. As we neared the ever expanding sprawl of Amsterdam things got congested but as it was a Sunday not too terrible. We stopped for a favorite great restaurant in Aalsmeer the Joseph aan de Poel literally on the lake at the end of a long dock. From there it was a familiar ride past the south side of Schiphol, through Hoofdorp and north to Haarlem along the Spaarn canal to our last stay of the season.
Our second night back in Haarlem we had a delightful dinner with our long-time Dutch friends Willy and Gert. We met them in the Maldive Islands off the coast of Sri Lanka in 1981. They were newly-weds with important positions at KLM airlines that allowed them to travel the world. We were old married vets of 15 years, who had just wrapped up our 3-year assignment in Munich with a round-the-world trip. We were on a tiny island and became instant friends. Over the 40 years we’ve met often and have been honored to visit them in their home in Zandvoort and other fabulous place (complete with 200-year-old terraced olive grove) in the French town of Claviers in the extremely mountainous area at the extreme west of Provence. Whenever we meet no matter how much time between it’s like we were young people back on a tiny island, laughing without a care in the world.
Sadly, the world turns and our wonderful adventure is winding down and it’s “goodbye again” to friends and to Haarlem and Holland . Today we are into our “final launch countdown” checking off the details of getting ready to return to the real world. We picked a place for convenience right at Haarlem’s Centrum/Verwulft – walking, distance to everything, easy to ride up to Beverwijk to return the bikes to be stored at our “local Bike Shop” to be ready for us next year… and also easy to hop on the bus to the airport early tomorrow morning.
So now here we are… our wings are clipped, our bikes are all tucked in for the winter. If all goes well, we’ll be home in South Haven, MI tomorrow night. We’ve heard horror stories of flight delays and customs hassles so keeping fingers crossed for a noneventful journey. See you on the other side.