Delft to Goedereede (in Red)
During breakfast I studied the map for the day’s journey. In my planning this was the trickiest part of the trip. What I wanted to do was to head due south from Delft across the two peninsulas of Zeeland towards Middelburg and, eventually, Belgium. I had chosen cities almost exactly 30 miles apart for the stopping points, figuring that would be about 40 miles of biking each day. Curiously, all the major cities seemed to be exactly 30 miles apart in this country. However, today was the exception. There was no major city 30 miles south of Delft. In fact, there wasn’t even a minor city at that distance. There wasn’t much of anything.
I had reservations at a tiny little place called Goedereede. The hotel charged $20 a night for a room. What do you get for $20, I wondered? I came to think of this hotel as the “dog”. All of my other reservations were in first class hotels. This one, though, was “the dog.”
My map problem, though, was how to get to the dog. Since first putting together the itinerary, I had been puzzled about how to cross the wide inlet separating the main continent, where I was in Delft, from the first peninsula. There was no bridge on the map unless I went inland about 15 miles and then through Rotterdam. Not only would this take me far out of my way, but I would have to traverse a major highway bridge and the city of Rotterdam itself, which is the busiest port in the world. No way I wanted to do that.
However, one of my two Michelin maps indicated that there was a ferry across the inlet, directly south of me at a little town called Massluis. The other map didn’t think so. So was there a ferry or not? I asked the clerk at the hotel. She seemed to remember that when she was a child there was a ferry there. Now she wasn’t sure. Hey, this is only ten miles away, I thought. How could she not know this? I asked some other people, but no one else knew either. Well, I had to take my chances. I had bad vibes about Rotterdam.
It wasn’t raining when I left the hotel, but the minute I got on my bike it started again. It had been waiting all night for me. On the way into Delft I had noticed my first windmill off on a side street behind the hotel, so I started out with a detour. How could you go to Holland and not see a windmill? So I biked past it. Check off windmill on the list, I thought.
The route to Massluis was simple. All I had to do was follow a canal. Allegedly, there was a bike path alongside the canal. I hadn’t yet learned to distrust the existence of canal-side bike paths. For a while it was fine. Canal. Bike path. Then the bike path disappeared, and there was a sign to “Verkeer.” I checked the map for Verkeer, and couldn’t find it. I hated getting the map all wet in the rain. Well, nothing to do but plunge ahead, wherever “ahead” was. A little later there was another sign for Verkeer, but now in the opposite direction. How could Verkeer be this way and that way at the same time? About a dozen Verkeers later, I figured out that this meant “detour”. Actually, some days later I looked it up. It meant “through traffic”. Something else I should have prepared for – learning a few Dutch words for traffic signs.
As I rejoined the canal bike path the rain picked up and the wind blew hard in my face. The going got very hard. For a minute I stopped under a tree, but that was just as bad as biking. Onwards. I was making about 8 miles an hour, whereas I’m used to doing at least 11 mph in what I considered to be the difficult winds on Sandy Hook. Maybe the Dutch winds were more substantial.
The scenery now was bucolic, and just as I imagined what biking in Holland would look like. There were windmills aplenty, and cows that might have walked out of the familiar Flemish paintings. Even though I’ve been describing the rain, wind, and uncertainty, it wasn’t all bad. It was – an experience to experience.
The path to Massluis
At last the canal arrived at the main street of Massluis. I was ready for my morning coffee, but on this rainy Sunday morning nothing seemed to be open. Then I spotted a little café with an awning and a light. Heaven! The friendly owner sympathetically poured me a cup of hot coffee. I breathed a sigh of relief when he confirmed the existence of the ferry right down the street from his café. I tarried awhile, watching the rain pour over my bike. Tough. I asked the owner if it would stop raining. He shook his head sadly, saying that it was the worst summer in memory. I got used to everyone telling me this and apologizing for this badly-behaved season.
At the entrance to the ferry port there was a ticket booth. It was closed, but there was an automatic machine that sold tickets. Apparently, a separate ticket was required for the bike, and the two tickets required about $10 in change, which of course I didn’t have. I was puzzled, but waited for the fairy with about four other people huddled under a little alcove. When the ferry pulled in, I wheeled my bike up the gangplank, and a conductor charged me a total of about 50 cents. What was that ticket machine all about, I wondered?
It was a wonderful respite to stand in the heated ferry, and to let the boat do the work of getting me across the water that had haunted my imagination in my plans. Dog, here I come!
The ferry at Massluis
I hated to leave the comfortable ferry, but a welcome sight greeted me – there was a restaurant at the opposite ferry port, and it was open. I know – I just had coffee, but it was raining hard. Maybe it was time for lunch.
I ordered a ham sandwich and some onion soup and watched the rain outside. The onion soup tasted like tomato soup. How can you screw up onion soup, I wondered? A number of bikers pulled up at the restaurant as I watched. Quite a few had bikes that were loaded with bags, and were obviously long distance bikers like me. I was always impressed, though, when I saw people with camping equipment on their bikes. I couldn’t imagine camping out in this weather! There were some young girls laughing, and older men. Everyone looked resilient. Hey, it’s raining, I wanted to say. But their demeanors always told me that this was just ordinary. Get used to it, they seemed to say. Finally, maybe I did.
Leaving the sanctuary of the restaurant, the geography was a little devious. I had to make a big circle around to a bridge in order to finally arrive at the main part of this new landmass. I was now once again following the little familiar signs designating the fietspad LF1a.
After a few more miles I arrived at the town of Brielle. I wondered if the town in New Jersey got its name from this place. However, I did read that here it was pronounced “Brill”. Anyway, it was unexpectedly pretty.
There were quite a number of expensive-looking private boats lining the main canal. I took a side trip down the main street, and was a bit sorry that I couldn’t stay longer to explore. According to the guidebook, this town had a rich history, having been captured by the Sea Beggars. I think William the Silent was involved too. He got around in those days, and I wondered where he got his interesting name. I mean, no one these days has a name like “Bob the Silent”, and the “Sea Beggars” could only be a football team.
Leaving Brielle I followed the signs for LF1a, which pointed down a residential side street. I kept pedaling, but didn’t see any more signs, and soon I had made a complete circle back to the side street entrance. I tried once more, and this time noticed the small sign pointing down another smaller street. This was always tricky. They should have better signs. Finally, I got out of Brielle, but it took a while.
Now the bike path signs led me on a zig-zag route along very small farm roads. These were one-lane roads, and there would be an occasional car. I was now used to having my own bike road, and I resented sharing the road with these cars. Moreover, the wind was now even worse. I would be biking solidly into the wind, and I would see the next turn maybe a half mile ahead. If only I can get to that next turn, I kept thinking, then maybe the wind won’t be so against me. Then I would arrive at the next turn, and it wouldn’t be much better.
After an endless sequence of these turns, seeming to make no progress at all, I arrived at the long bridge into Zeeland.
The bridge to Zeeland
It doesn’t look so bad in this picture, but it really was. You can see the modern windmills pointed right at me. They were eating up the ferocious wind, while I was fighting it with all my strength. Also, this was uphill for a mile or so to the midpoint, but even going downhill on the other side I had to work very hard. I have to tell you, this part wasn’t fun.
I was greatly relieved finally to reach Zeeland on the other side of this long bridge. Almost immediately, there was a friendly bikepath to the little town of my destination, Goedereede.
The fietspad to Goedereede
The wind was now at my side, and had abated somewhat. I was going to make it to the dog after all! It had even stopped raining. Well, almost.
Goedereede was much prettier than I had expected. It had its own small canal, and one main street with a little square. There was a very large, outsized, brick church. The dog, my hotel, looked much better than I had imagined. I’m sorry for calling you a dog, I said to myself.
The “Dog” – my hotel in Goedereede
I had a room at the top of the stairs. I think there were only about a half dozen rooms in the hotel. The bathroom and shower were across the hall, but since there weren’t any other guests that I saw, I had them to myself. All in all, not bad, and for $20 a fantastic bargain!
A better surprise awaited me. The dinner was fantastic. I had chateaubriand in a wonderful sauce with an incredible assortment of side vegetables. Of course, there was the ubiquitous mound of delicious French fries. These “frites” were everywhere I went, and it became expected that I would get a giant pile of them at all meals. Maybe not for breakfast, but every other meal. The fries were fine themselves, but I couldn’t get used to the custom of topping them with mayonnaise. It just didn’t seem right. Ketchup, maybe, but mayonnaise?
Anyway, I had some nice wine and a wonderful peach melba dessert. The next morning when I checked out of the hotel, the total bill for room, meal, drinks, and breakfast was less than $40. I’ll take a dog like this any day!
Proceed to next day's biking, Goedereede to Middelburg
Back to Holland overview