We set of from Lander’s house in the drizzle, but with a good idea of the route and a shorter day planned to try and accommodate our super slow speeds. Unfortunately the weather really didn’t want to play along. First it was just raining with a very strong headwind, then it started hailing large rocks of ice which smashed into our pink faces. Our gear is not really suitable for winter touring, as we’d planned to get all the things we needed for the Himalayas on the road somewhere to cut down on weight for Asia. Our gloves quickly became wet and froze our fingers, and the wind cut straight through our shoes onto our wet socks. We both had enough layers to keep our core warm, so we knew we weren’t going to die (and anyway, Flanders is so populated that we could find someone to rescue us if it got serious) but it wasn’t much fun.
After our miserable day biking to Apeldoorn we decided to employ train travel to help us reach our next destination – Lander’s home in Aalst. Without too much hassle we were able to find the right train that would take us from Apeldoorn to Rotterdam where we would switch onto the train to Roosendaal. The train travel was pretty easy. We just purchased an extra ticket for our bikes on the machines at the station and loaded the bikes into a carriage with a bike symbol on it. We had to take all the bags off to jam the bikes into place but with two people the tetris is a lot easier than it would be alone I imagine. The second train was a little more difficult because we had to hold the bikes across the door and move them every time people wanted on or off. We were in the bike carriage again but for some reason a person was sitting in the seats that fold up to give the bikes room and wouldn’t move for us. We aren’t sure if we were getting some kind of train etiquette wrong, or if they were just being obtuse.
We ended up spending 8 nights in Utrecht getting our bearings in this new country and exploring the city where we hope to live. We first heard of Utrecht three years ago when the Tour de France started there. It’s a bit difficult from the other side of the world to choose a place to shift to, so it seems like as good a reason as any. After hopping around accommodation for a few nights we settled in an apartment which was a fantastic choice. Food in the supermarket here is much cheaper than eating out, the opposite of what we found in Asia. And we were able to find lots of foods we had been without for months. Cheese! And bread that isn’t sweet with weird salty floss!
Our Norwegian air flight was reasonably comfortable. For no extra cost we were able to reserve exit row seats so we had plenty of leg room. The flights were also reasonably priced and there wasn’t an outrageous fee for the bikes. The only problem was that they fed us as soon as we boarded the plane, and then only provided a light snack partway through. Even with all our plane snacks we were ravenous by the time we reached Oslo where we had to pay not only Norwegian prices, but Norwegian airport prices for some sandwiches. Maybe that’s how they get away with making the flights so cheap.