Bike Tour 2017 Budapest to Amsterdam Index

On May 22, 2017, Jean and I completed our flight from Vancouver to Budapest.  This was the start of a 12 week cycling trip which ended in Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam.

The trip blog is separated into 12 sections.  This post is an index to the sections.

Budapest to Bratislava

Bratislava to Snojmo

Snojmo to Prague

Prague to Dresden

Dresden to Berlin

Berlin to Rostock

Rostock to Copenhagen

Day trip to Malmo

Hamburg to Groningen

Groningen to Amsterdam

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Bike Tour 2017 – Groningen to Amsterdam

Aug 7 – To Apeldoorn

We wanted to stop for lunch at the Schortinghuis restaurant in Spier, but the train south from Gronigen was not in service and the alternate bus service did not take bikes. We had to take 3 trains to Hoogeveen and then cycled 12 km to Spier.

Then back to Hoogeveen and 2 trains to Almelo where we went to the childhood house of Arno’s mother. While there we came across a section of the F35 Fietssnellweg (literally Bicycle Freeway). When completed, this will become a 60 km cycling highway which will connect the cities of Almelo and Enchede in the eastern part of the Netherlands.

Then one more train to Apeldoorn where Arno was born. While in our hotel, we tried to fnd locations of any war memorials that recognized the Canadian soldiers that helped to liberate the Netherlands near the end of WWII. Imagine our surprize at locating two memorials just across the road from our hotel.

Memorial honouring Canadian soldiers who helped ro liberate the Netherlands

More pics here

Aug 8 – ToAmersfoort

Cycled mostly on paths parallel to 2 lane highways, the fist portion being past the former royal summer palace (Het Loo) and through the royal forest.

 More pics here

Aug 9 Wijk bij Duurstede via Utrecht and Houten – 67 km
Nice ride into Utrecht. At one point the bike path we went straight under a road roudabout. Beautiful city centre with lots of pedestrian streets in rhe city centre.

Lots of bikes in Utrecht

We found out later that the first section of the biggest bike parking facility in the Netherlands (room for 12,000 bikes!) had opened the previous day in the rebuilt central station.

Found one of the many cycling highways in Utrecht. This section followed Kanalweg and was oriented in a north-southish direction.

Rode south to the relatively new town of Houten. This town was built around 8 cycling paths. Portions of some parhs are of a style called Fietsweg (literally Bike Street) where cars are guests. The town centre is car free and features a 4m wide bike path. On the way out of town, we saw a car rou dabout with a bike roudabout below. We could cycle from the southern edge of Utrecht, through the centre of Houten and some distance further without encountering traffic lights or regular roads.

More pics here

Aug 10 – Oss – 51 km

Nice ride along dikes which included a couple of ferry rides across large canals. 

More pics here

Aug 11 – Eindhoven via ‘s Hertogenbosch (aka Den Bosch)

We discovered a cycling highway between Oss and Den Bosch and followed it for about 8 km out if Oss. This is a mostly 2 way path which is 3.5 to 4m in width and has many road crossings with cycling priority.  At one point the path went around 1/4 of a road roundabout with cyclists having priority in both directions!

An intersection in Den Bosch where the path switches from ine side of the street to the other, there is an indicator which shows the fastest path through the intersection (straight-right-left or right-left).  More  here: http://www.beezodogsplace.com/2014/11/08/dynamic-sign-to-indicate-the-fastest-cycle-route/

We cycled on to Eindhoven mostly along a cycle path parallel to a highway.  That night, we rode to the “Starry Night” section of the Van Gogh bike path ineastetn Eindhoven. This is an art work comosed of light emitting “stones emb3dded in the bike path to create images reminisce t of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting.

Van Gogh starry cycle path

More pics here

Aug 12 – To Terheijden

On the way out of eindhoven, we went for a ride on the famous Hovenring elevated cycling/walking roundabout.

Hovenring cycle roundabout near Eindhoven

Managed to ride most of the way to Tilburg along paths beside canals. 

Took the train to Breda and then cycled to my cousin who lives in Terhijden.

More pics here

Aug 13 – To Zoetemeer via Gouda and Boskoop

My cousins kindly drove us to a nice route which winds along a river toward Gouda.

Gouda is a beautiful snd very car light toepwn with a lovely central square.

My father was born in Boskoop and his family had a lovely house.

Some kind people who we met nearby told us about a new bike path to Zoetermeer. This was a delightful ride through fiels and forests on a super smooth paved path! Heaven!

More pics here

Aug 14 – To Kudelstaart

Had a nice  ride to Leiden with my cousin. In Leiden there wewpre many gouups riding bikes inthe city and every rider was wearing the same blue backpack. We found out that this was frosh week and all the stusents were getting a city tour by bike.


Aug 15 – Back to Vancouver from Schiphol (Amsterdam) Airport – 12 km

Short ride to the Airport. Our airline (KLM) insisted that bikes be boxed so we had to pay E23 for each box on top of the E125 fee for bringing along each bike on the airplane. Boxes were quite large which made packing fairly straight forward.

 

Bike Tour 2017 – Copenhagen to Hamburg

July 20 – To Ringsted – 60 km

After about 4 km of riding in the Copenhagen, we enjoyed paved paths through nature reserves, farmland and seaside paths.

Seaside path south of Copenhagen

For the first 20 km we did not have to cross a road at grade. Then mostly roadside paths and quiet country roads.

July 21 – To Nyborg -60 km

We visited St. Benedict Church in Ringstead. This church dates from the 13th century and is the oldest church in Denmark to be built from bricks. Many royals were buried in this church.

Quiet roads and paths along highways. It is always nice to see a freshly painted conflict zone. 

We stopped in Slagelse which has a nice car free central square and adjacent streets. 

Then on to Korsor to catch a train under a straight to Nyborg. It proved very difficult to purchase tickets due to having bikes. Reservations were required by phoning a certain number and then using a code to purchase tickets. However nobody at the other end could speak Engish which is very unusual in Denmark. Thanks to a kind Danish lady, we managed to sort things out.  

July 22 – To Fynshav – 82 km

We followed a regional bike route most of the way across the island. Half way along, we  stumbled acsoss a paved rail trail which we followed for about 10 km. 

Rest of the route was mostly on quiet roads. Along the way we stopped to take pictures of a cute water mill. The owner invited us in for a look. She explainef that the mill was pretty run down when they bought it 7 years ago. The mill is now fully operational but is used only occasionally to grind grain. After passing through the seaside town of ??? We caught a ferry to the next island. Saw an interesting treatment for bike lanes.

Nice treatment for bike lanes

The width of the white line is about twice normal and the white rectangles are raised, creating a bike frienly rumble strip. I have seen this on road edges in Hungary and Germany as well. Note that bike lanes are rare in Europe.

July 23 – To Aabenraa – 51 km

Rode along separated paths most of the way to the seaside town named Soldborg. One path went through a residential part of the city. All new suburbs should be designed around paths like this.

A palace in Grasten was along our route. Castle grounds were unfortunately closed due to the royal family staying there for the summer. Interesting that the palace was guarded by costumed soldiers who mechanically followed  a pacing ritual.

Summer palace of Danish royal family

We try to avoid busy highways, but had to ride about 10 km on busyish hwy. Our accommodation was by the sea and our host kindly offered the use of his kayaks and paddleboards.

July 24 – To Romo Island – 80 km

We could not find any designated cycle routes but managed to plot a route that included cycle tracks and paths as well as mostly quiet roads. On the way,  we noticed a particlarly good treatment for a cycle track. The edge of the raised cycle track was clearly marked. This is not common but good people not used to riding on cycle tracks.

A 2 km section of busy highway with no shoulder was definitely the low point of the dack We lucked out at the end of the day when a heavy downpour let loose seconds after checking in to our accommodations.

 July 25 – Rest day on Romo Island

July 26 – To Neukirchen, Germany – 61 km

Took a ferry to Sylt Island in Germany. The northern part is all dunes and almost all houses have thatched roofs – even the bus shelters and shelters along the bike paths. 

Lots of people cycling! Lots of hiking trails in the dunes. Lots of bikes parked at trailheads.

All the buseds we saw on Silt Iskad had bike racks on the back that coukd accommodate 4 bikes. Why not in Canafa?

Pic coming

Last part of the route involved takung a train back to the mainland. Unfortunately, we were delayed due to a bike on train restriction during peak hours.

July 27 -To Husum – 69 km

We first cycled toward the coast to connect with the North Sea Route aka EuroVelo 1. We were not disapointed since we were soon on a wide, paved path along the North Sea with a strong tail wind to boot. Heaven!

Tide must have been high, since a portion of the path was flooded.

July 28 – To Meldorf 66 km

Husum has a castle snd a nice car free square. 

Pic coming

Damp day, though we missed the worst downpours by hunkering down under a railroad bridge in Husum and having lunch in a bus shelter along the way. Some travel on paths along highways and also sections of quiet country roadwayWe followed the North Sea Route much of the way.

At one point the bike path along a highway seemed to end at a construction zone where road traffic was restricted to one way alternating. We were about to join the road treffic when we noticed that a temporary path was created through the construction zone.

July 29 – To Gluckstadt – 58 km

We followed the North Sea/Elbe River Routes most of the day. We again reached the North Sea at Brunsbuttel which lies where the Elbe River enters the North Sea. Took a free ferry actoss the North-East Canal.

Pic

Then the route again followed the coast through sheep pastures which lay between a dike and the estuary of the Elbe River.

Movie

July 30 – Rest day in Gluckstadt

We rested. 

I did discover an interesting housing model in Gluckstadt. Row houses were placed along a Greenway beside a small canal. Front door faced the greenway and there was no motor vehicle access.  Every block or so there was a small parking lot for a few cars. This would be a good model for adding car free housing along wider portions of the Arbutus Greenway in Vancouver.

Pic coming

July 31 – To Hamburg

Followed the Elbe River Route most of the way. Note that we followed another portion of this route earlier in our tour between the Czech/German border and Lutherstadt. 

Bike Tour 2017 – Copenhagen & Malmo

July 16 – Arrived in Copenhagen after a longish (80km) ride from Holtug. 

July 17 – Explored the city centre. First item on the agenda was a ride over the Cykelslangen (Bike Snake) Bridge.

We went into the mall at the end of the bridge and parked in the extensuve indoor  bike parking area.

Then we explored the city. Cycling was very comfortable – lots of cycle tracks – but motor vehicle traffic was almost in gridlock. I guess that this is why over 40% of trips are made by bike.

More pics here   

July 18 – More Exploring Copenhagen

We had lunch at the Street Food Market. Then rode over the new ped/cycle bridge. This bridge had lots of construction problms and received a negative review from Copenhagonize:

Here is a pic of the weird jog:

Cyclists hace to negotiate a tight jog near the left side of the pic.

Copenhagen has developed Green Waves for cyclists on many arterials. Lights are synchronized in one direction so that traffic travelling at 20 kph flows freely. 

 July 19 Did a side trip to Malmo. 
More to come…

Bike Tour 2017 – Rostock, Germany to Copenhagen

July 12 to Nykobing Falster, Denmark

First imppressions re cycling infrastructure in Denmark were good. Similar to Germany with quiet roads or separated paths. Also, they use the Dutch style “shark teeth” yield strips on roads as well as on bike paths.

Then a couple of noisy, smelly gas powered motor svooters came by and I quickly realized that they also seem to share the horrid Dutch policy of allowing these on bike paths. They also seem to have the Canadian predilection bor baffle gates!?! Fortunately reasonably widely spaced.

Rode along a nice oceanside path for a while.

July 13 – To Stege – 

Started off on a nice paved path. Then quiet country roads followed by gravel lanes and forest access roads. Took a ferry actoss to the next island.

We were then quite surprised to find ourselves on a busy highway with narrow shoulders, especially after being pampered for many weeks. Thankfully we  were on the highway for inly a few km and had a strong tailwind. Rest of route was quite pleasant.

Oceanside path – nice location, but unusually natrow and with gravel surface

July 14 – To Praesto 

Took bus 20km to the white cliffs of Mons Island. Buses take 2 bikes inside the bus!

Cycled back to Stege and on to Praesto by mostly following the B-KO/EV7 route. We were again surprised when the route followed a busy higway with natrow (5 – 30 cm wide) shoulders. Rest of route was the regular quiet roads with some off road paths. Also we were pleasantly surprised to find a section with wideish (1.5 to 2m) paths on both sides of a highway!

Praesto is a cute village on the sea.

July 15 – To Holtug

On the way out of Praesto, we came across thei sayurday maket. Most of the village wsd car free and crowded with people. No police or volunteets manning batricades – why can’t we do this in Vancouver? How about car free Water Street every Saturday?

Saw more chaulk cliffs north of Redvig.

July 16 – To Copenhagen – 60 km

Saw a few castles on the way.

Then our ride turned into an adveture.  First it started to rain and Jean got a flat on one of her Schwalbe Maraton Plus tires. Soon after, I got two flats in a row – perhaps we rode over the same glass field. Jean received a nasty welcome to Danish style cycle tracks by falling off her bike when she rode over a poor transition from bike lane to cycle track.

All was forgiven when the rain stopped and the route brought us to a path through a seaside park and the through a forest and fields which extended almost to the heart of the city.  The last few kilometres were on wide cycletracks.

3m wide cycle tracks on both sides of the road

More pics here.  

Bike Tour 2017 – Berlin to Copenhagen

eral information

A Berlin – Copenhagen cycle route (B-KO) has neen developed. This route forms part of the international EuroVelo 7 route (EV7) which links Malta and Norway. Lots of information including gps route data is provided at:

http://www.bike-berlin-copenhagen.com/  

July 2 – To Leegenbruch – 38 km 

Great ride out of Berlin.  We took a bike path beside Osloer Strasse and quickly connected with the B-KO route. This route was marked as both the B-KO route snd also German national route D11 though there was no indication that this was also EV7. 

Route was mostly off road and went beside a river until we were well north of Berlin. Well signed – a real treat to ride on. At one point the path went by what we assume is a preserved section of the Berlin wall.

It is interesting that this wall which was a symbol of the Cold War and which caused a lot of suffering is now a canvas for graffiti art and a  backdrop for a portion of an international cycling route.

There were several ped/cycle bridges over streams and canals along the way – some up to 5m wide..

A portion of the cycle path into Leegenbruch was under about 15 cm of water. We found out later that the area suffered a hundred year flood due to excessive rain.  It was raining lightly when we arrived.

More pics here

July 3 – To Zehdenick – 44 km

 Beautiful day – sunny and cool. Very impressed with cycle facilities in the area of Oranienburg north of Berlin. Almost up to Dutch standards in terms of consistency.  Here is a pic of a 4m path along one side of a canal and there is also a 4.5m path on the other side

Great signage with the addition of intersection numbers as is common in the Netherlands.

More pics here   

July 4  – To Furstenberg/Havel (45 km)

Nice cool and sunny day. Soon came across a historic brick factory site which is now a museum. This area was rich in clay and was a major brick making area from the mid 18th century to the end of the 19th century. The clay mining pits which dotted the area are now lakes.

Part of brick manufacturing museum. Note covered bike parking.

Route was mostly beside water (lakes, rivers, canals) or through forests on paths or  “Fahrradstrasse” (narrow paved roads which only allow residence access).

 

More pics here

July 5 – To Neustrilitz 45 km

Mixed quality of paths today. Some narrow but quiet highways. A narrow gravel section and narrow section but surprisingly smooth sectiin with a surface of paving stones.

Visited a castle in Wesenburg. Here is a view from the tower.

July 6 To Warren – 60 km

We often went off the official Berlin-Copenhagen route both yestetday and today but found cycling infrastructure to be quite good. We encountered paths beside major two lane highways which were of quite high quality. Why don’t we see this in Canada, especially near high population centres?

Cycle path beside major two lane highway. Note barriers beside both hwy and bike path beside drop.

Saw a palace in Neustrilitz on the way.

More pics here   

July 7 – Rest day near Waren 20 km

Explored Waren, a touristy town at the north end of Lake Murtitz – the largest lake in Germany. 

Nice ped/cycle underpass.

Reminds me of one in Vancouver, but this one has ramps, stairs and elevators!!

July 8 – To Zietlitz (near Krakow am Zee) – 49 km

As we were leaving our accommodation, we noticed two kids playing teeter-totter with two goats. All seemed to be enjoying the game.

 

We followed Berlin-Copehagen route most of the way. Much of the route was on paved paths and quiet roads through forests. Very pleasant. We stopped for lunch at a small picnic shelter.

More pics here

 July 9 – to Gustrow – 46 km

More narrow country roads. Lots of pine plantations in this area. Pine sap was collected from some trees. By cutting grooves and collecting sap.

Came across what I suspect is a “wohnerf” street where cars must yoeld to others and must travel at ped speeds. Why not in Canada?

Nice castle inGustrow.

More pics here

July 10  – To Rostok – 60 km

Which statements do you thik are true? (Answer below)

  • We saw camels near the bike path?
  • We chowed our lunch in a village named Letschow?
  • We saw the Baltic Sea?

After leaving Gustrow, we rode along a canal dyke path. Then mostly country lanes and dedicated paths. We passed an interesting rest spot which had seating inside and bike parking behind.

Yes, we did see camels.

We received a rainy welcome to Rostock – a city on the Baltic Sea. The crys of seagulls told us that we were near salt water. The city has a beautiful and car free square.

See more pics for welcome sign to Letschow, where we had lunch.

July 11 – Rest day in Rostock

We rested. 

I did notice an example where cycling infrastructure is better in Metro Vancouver than in Rostok.  Rostock is at the end if an inlet. In order to avoid a 20 km ride around the end of the inlet, I thought that it would be possible to ride through a tunnel. Turns out that this is not allowed and the only way across was to take a bus at a cost of about $6 each for us and our bikes!  In Vancouver, there is a free shuttle service at the George Massey Tunnel or as a senior I can get through the tunnel by bus with my bike for $1.75 .

On the other hand  drivers here are ultra good at yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks. By comparison, I once had 17 drivers fail to yield while crossing at a certain intersection in Vancouver.  

The following day, we took the city bus to the ferry. Bus had space for 2 bikes inside the bus near the middle doors. Much more convenient than a bus rack, especially with fully loaded bikes.

July 12 to Nykobing Falster, Denmark

First imppressions re cycling infrastructure in Denmark were good. Similar to Germany with quiet roads or separated paths. Also, they use the Dutch style “shark teeth” yield strips on roads as well as on bike paths.

Then a couple of noisy, smelly gas powered motor svooters came by and I quickly realized that they also seem to share the horrid Dutch policy of allowing these on bike paths.

Rode along a nice oceanside path for a while.

July 13 – To Stege – 

Started off on a nice paved path. Then quiet country roads followed by gravel lanes and forest access roads. Took a ferry actoss to the next island.

We were then quite surprised to find ourselves on a busy highway with narrow shoulders, especially after being pampered for many weeks. Thankfully we  were on the highway for inly a few km and had a strong tailwind. Rest of route was quite pleasant.

  

July 14 – To Praesto 

Took bus 20km to the white cliffs of Mons Island. Buses take 2 bikes inside the bus!

Cycled back to Stege and on to Praesto by mostly following the B-KO/EV7 route. We were again surprised when the route followed a busy higway with natrow (5 – 30 cm wide) shoulders. Rest of route was the regular quiet roads with some off road paths. Also we were pleasantly surprised to find a section with wideish (1.5 to 2m) paths on both sides of a highway!

Praesto is a cute village on the sea.


July 15 

Bike Tour 2017 – Dresden to Berlin Section

June 26 – Strehla 61 km

Cool, cloudy day – perfect for riding. Pretty river path. Explored Meissen on the way. Pleasant square and castle high on a hill.

Castle in Meissen

June 27 – Torgau

Another cool day, also cloudy. On the way we met a young woman who was from Dresden and now living in Montreal.  She gave us some of the horrific details of the fire bombing of Dresden at the end of WWII. Torgau was at the centre of the reformation movement in the 16th century which featured Martin Luther. Very nice castle as well as a church which dates back to the 13th centuy.  Lots of history here.

Castle in Torgau.  

More pictures here .

June 28 – Lutherstadt Wittenberg ( 72 km – flat path)

Passed through lots of little villages and farm fields. Rode through a light thunderstorm and put on some rain gear for the only the second time this trip. We did have about 5 km of fairly busy highway but most of route was off road paths or along quiet roads.

Lutherstadt Wittenberg is a pretty town with a castle and two very large churches. They are currently hosting a large exposition to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the reformation.

Castle in Lutherstadt Wittenberg

More pics here .

June 29 – Potsdam 44 km cycle plus train

We now leave the high quality Elberadweg (Elbe bike route). Heading north, we followed gravel paths and roads for about 10 km – a marked drop in quality from the Elbe route. At a state boundary, conditions improved and we were treated to paved paths most of the way to Bad Belzig. Here is an interesting situation where a paved cycle path was constructed beside a gravel road (which I assume is a forest service road). 

This makes a lot of sense, but one would be hard pressed to find something like this in Canada.

Visited Berg Rabenstein castle and also a castle in Bad Belzig. 

Berg Rabenstein Castle south of Potsdam

Due to start of heavy rain and long distance remaining, we decided to take a train to Potsdam.  We were surprised that our scheduled train was cancelled due to technical difficulties and we had to wait an additional hour for the next train. We were doubly surprised that the messages and announcements of the technical difficulties were very misleading and caused us further delay. Note, however, that rail service in most of Europe is for the most part exceptionally good, especially when compared to Canada. If we missed a Via train in Vancouver, we would have to wait 2 or 3 days for the nect one. Also, there are almost always special spots for bikes on most regional European trains.

June 30 – To Berlin

We started the day by exploring Potsdam. We first visited a Dutch style street which was created by Flemish peole who moved there in the 1730s. Next we explored a small portion of the very expansive Sanssouci Palace grounds which includes many buildings (and a windmill!) and vast gardens. Then rode down a car free street (why don’t we have these in Canada?) and finally the ostentatious square.

Dutch style street in Potsdam

Our ride into Berlin was mostly follewing the EuroVelo 7 route. It started off in a wide “Fahradstrasse” – a street where cars are allowed but may not pass bikes. Then wide bike lanes. One section was on a rough paved path though there was the option to ride on the wide-ish 30 k/h street which we soon chose.  After this, there was a mix of bike facilities including a narrow one-way bike path marked on the sidewalk. This worked quite well as long as there were not cars parked immediately beside or even intruding into the path. 

Sidewalk divided into ped and bike sections

More pics here

July 1 – Extra day in Berlin

Took the S-Bahn (metro) to Brandenburg gate. Then went to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This is a massive but quite abstract memorial which covers 19,000 square metres. The information exhibit meant more to me since it provided detailed information of the holocaust.  It is very difficult to understand how fellow human beings could devise such a massive genocide and also how so many could participate in this horrendous undertaking.  This memorial was particularly meaningful to me since my parents sheltered 5 Jewish people in their farmhouse in the Netherlands during WWII   Over 100,000 Dutch Jews were not so lucky.  

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

We spent the rest of the day exploing Berlin.

More pics here .

Next section is Bike Tour 2017 – Berlin to Copenhagen