Yesterday we got the train all the way from Hausach in the Black Forest to Emmerich on the German / Netherlands border. It was a long trip! We got to Emmerich about 6 pm and cycled over the border, which we were delighted to find looked like this.
We found a campsite nearby and went to bed to recover from our epic train ride. It’s a tough life.
It was raining when we woke up this morning – stupid northern Europe! We managed to pack everything away with minimal saturation, except when I left the tent door open for a few minutes. Oops. I’m not used to precipitation!
As we were washing up and getting ready to go we started chatting to another tourer – a Dutch guy. We mentioned we were planning to go to one of two National Parks near Arnhem and he told us all about them, and said there was a really good campsite nearby. We decided to check it out.
We hit the road dressed in full waterproofs, it was like being back in Galicia. Too hot to wear the waterproofs, too wet to take them off. It was great riding though, there were cycle paths everywhere! Another of the tourers we were talking to last night described the Netherlands as a playground for cyclists, it looks like she’s right!
The landscape during the morning ride was mostly agricultural, with a few small patches of woodland. It wasn’t particularly inspiring, but I suppose they have to feed all these people somehow!
We got to the park (Nationaal Park Veluwezoom) in the afternoon and found our way in. We didn’t have a good electronic map of the trails, so we found ourselves going along wet, sandy tracks, up and down hills (who knew?) until we found a cycle path and a proper map by the side of it. We stopped for lunch and enjoyed being back in the woods!
As we made our way out of the park we saw something on the path. Anna joked it was a sleeping bear, but as we got closer we realized she wasn’t far off – it was a massive bull lying across the path enjoying a good cud. We didn’t want to get too close; luckily there was a sand track just next to the path so we could get around. It turned out the bull only had one eye, and was super chilled out, he didn’t even move as we went past.
We got to the campsite and went to check in. We found out this is one of a network of campsites under a group called “De Groene Koepel” (The Green Dome). You have to have a membership to stay at these sites, which costs €15 per year, but after that it’s pretty cheap to camp each time. We decided it’s probably worth it if we stay at a few other sites in the next few days so we went for it.
The site is really cool. As we were cleaning the bikes and cooking dinner we got chatting to a family who volunteer here. The campsite only employs one person, the rest are volunteers. The electricity here all comes from a solar panel, even so, they invite you to charge up your phones etc from the battery – a very nice change from trying to sneakily charge stuff up from the shaver sockets in the toilets!
The lady we were speaking to said that when she first came to this site there was a toilet and a cold shower. Since she’s been working here they have installed hot showers, the solar panel, a washing up area, new toilets, and a cool little shelter where you can cook and eat when it’s raining – such a good idea. They also light oil lamps and put them around the site each night instead of having electric bulbs – it’s such a nice light compared to bright electric light invading your sleep! As they were lighting the lamps she said they’d had a suggestion to put one in the shelter, so she was going to see if there was a hook there, and if not, to put one in because “that’s a good idea”. I like to think that that was the sort of open-minded attitude that resulted in this being such a great campsite!
Tomorrow we’re heading to Amersfoort to meet up with a couple of friends of mine, Huygen and Emma. Since I last saw them they’ve had a baby and got married, so there’s a lot to catch up on – can’t wait!