While we were so close, we thought we just might return to the scene of the crime, the place where almost exactly thirty-four years ago something clicked and we realised that it is possible to live and travel the length and breadth of the greater part of Europe on its waterways. It’s quite amazing to think that the little spark that ignited that day has been with us all that time, yet in all our travels we’d never returned to the scene of the crime. Until today.
We joined Maarty on his workday commute, discovering in the process that riding a bike in peak hours is quite different to driving. Instead of slowing to a crawl, the bikes speed up, gathering more and more cycles and seemingly more and more pace as the distance to the station reduces. We become a massive endless river of movement with each new intersection adding impossibly to the crowd, yet there is no jostling, barely a ringing of bell. Suddenly at the station we are riding at least half a dozen abreast and the path leads to a set of STAIRS. Like lemmings we dismount and follow the seething mob down into what looks like a modern bike shop, but turns out to be a five story high “bike factory”, a bike park with multi-height racks storing thousands of bikes (at no cost), electronically monitored and secured neatly in numbered spaces.
Amsterdam of course was fabulous, and we walked until we could walk no more, then ate, then drank, then walked some more all the while avoiding bikes which have grown in numbers by at least five fold since our last visit. We intend to return sooner rather than later so there was no need to try to see everything, although we have this niggling feeling since making our escape from the bike factory that just possibly “now we’ve seen everything"!