Today I met great people along the way from Belgium to the Netherlands.
The first encounter: a couple of hours after leaving Bruges, I stopped for lunch, -if a banana, a plum, cheese and chocolate, can be called so- at the center of a small town plaza and a nice couple came to check salsa out. We had a chat and they corrected my way to the Dutch country at the right time and place telling me about a bicycle + passenger ferry to the island I was getting to. If I continued on the original way I would have lost the rest of my day easily getting the correct way again.
Riding in Holland can be boring for many cause its all flat and everything is perfectly well signalized for cyclists, sometimes even with their own little highways only for cyclist. The challenge here is the wind, yes that’s why they are well known for their wind mills. Most of the time the wind was on my face or side, but crossing to the island I’m staying today at I had it right on my back. I felt I was superman doing 50km/hr flat for 4km, right above the see level while reaching the 100km mark on my day.
The town I’m staying right now is really nice, but there is nothing to do at all… And this is Friday night. I arrived at 5:03pm and wanted to respect my traveling rule # 1, that is: ‘no more cycling after 5pm’. I was successful in finding a bed and breakfast, but I failed on finding an open supermarket to prepare dinner. I went into a restaurant that looked apt for local people and not really touristic.
It ended up being a nice place, I was assigned a table in the middle of other tables occupied mostly by couples. It didn’t bother me coming on my own, I ordered something that sounded like fish with asparagus and dove into my book. The waiter came with salmon rolled in sea bass over asparagus topped by hollandaise sauce. The food was way more superior than I thought -way out of my daily budget too-. My problem now is that I will never enjoy an out-of-holland hollandaise sauce again, as now I know the local one and has nothing to do with the ones I’ve tried before.
I finished my plate and noticed the fully occupied loud restaurant coming to a pin-drop silence. I waited and observed all around for some sort of action… Silence. Two minutes turned into 30 in my mind trying to guess what this was about. Whatever it was I respected the moment and listened to the silence. I deprived from one of my senses years ago at a restaurant called Die Blinde Kuh, in Zurich, where you dine at 100% darkness, but this was unexpected and sudden.
The second encounter: two minutes after the silence started, the couple at the table next to me explains in English what happened. Every year on May 4 the Netherlands commemorates all who died on World War II, Remembrance of the Dead, at 8pm two minutes of silence are observed through all Netherlands. Tomorrow May 5 is the liberation celebration of the nation from the German occupation of 1940 to 1945.
I ended up having a long and great conversation with Monique and Eric, and they were nice enough to invite me staying with them when I stop by Amsterdam. Thanks for that!