We rugged up again and set off early from Oostende with about 80km ahead of us. We wouldn’t have thought twice about that distance in Asia, but at our European pace it was going to be a long day. The ride along the coast should have been beautiful, but the Belgians have built row upon row of ugly apartments along the beach front and the road usually goes behind these. At one point we were able to ride along the front, but being the shutters were closed on most of the apartments, there was no one around and the “for sale” signs everywhere gave the whole place a lonely, ghostly feel. The moody grey skies and thin wind didn’t help either.
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.