Friday, May 21, 2010

Maastricht to Grevenblicht... two different worlds

Thought about riding to Margraten, but if I make that visit, I'd like to do it on Memorial day. Thought about riding to Aachen, to see the cathedral where Charlemagne was crowned -- it is supposed to be exceptional. But the cycling weather is beautiful, and I decided to simply head north along LF3 and the Maas river valley. Picked a destination almost at random: Grevenblicht.

Maastricht was nice -- a clean, prosperous city (though I don't completely understand the prosperity, as the economy seems to be based solely on people sitting in the sun at cafes). Austere streets of brick houses, but the backyards are a surprise: owner of B&B I stayed in has 5 sheep in his backyard, inside Maastricht city limits!

Navigated my way out of town, feeling pretty cocky -- I looked at a map, said "I know that street", and cycled off. And by and large, that was how the day went: if the path looked good and it headed more or less north, I took it.

Distance from start to finish by a direct route is probably 25 kilometers. As I rode, it was a bit more than 35.

Much of the cycling was along LF3 -- "long distance cycling route 3". That name gives an impression of some sort of bicycle freeway, but nothing could be further from the truth. Route was made up of dirt roads, gravel paths, small streets, and sections of beautiful paved "road"... just 24 inches across! Literally, two bikes could pass but it was dicey... so more common for one rider to stop, pull over, let the other by with a wave. (My shoe shown for scale, on bike 'highway'.)

How busy was it? I stopped from time to time, and sat for up to 10 minutes without seeing another cyclist go by.

The Maas is lovely, a twisting, turning, slow-flowing river with a bit of barge traffic.

Grevenblicht is a picture perfect little village, a place I could imagine living. I'm staying the night at a sort of B&B... really, a room in someone's home... that is part of the "Vrienden op de Fiets" or "Friends of the Bicycle" network. 3700 of these in Belgium and the Netherlands, very reasonably priced (~20 euro), and so far terrific.

Strangest siting of the day: 3 kangaroos, in a back garden here.

Asked my hostess for her recommendation for a place for dinner. Her reply: "... there is a Dutch restaurant, but it is overpriced... there is a Chinese restaurant, but it is not so good... and there is a good Friture, you should go there". So I did. And it WAS good! "Frites Sataysauce": fries with peanut butter! Just the ticket after a ride.

Spent some time after dinner working on a Dutch crossword puzzle. A zen exercise, but I did manage to fill in 5 words.

Final photo... is view from my bedroom window.

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