Utrecht to Maastricht (230 km).

Trip Start Jun 30, 2010
Trip End Sep 09, 2010

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Where I stayed
Tom's flat (couchsurf)!

Flag of Netherlands  , Limburg,
Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Utrecht. Fri 2nd July.

Jim awoke like an Avatar (blue all over) after a warm night's sleep in his new blue sleeping bag, and it is very hard to wash off, great sign for the rest of trip, Linton was amused. A very warm day spent recuperating in Julia’s flat and preparing for the party. During the afternoon we enjoyed watching the Dutch deservedly beat Brazil, which was very orange, and we also managed to get some new bicycle mascots called beasties which are everywhere at the moment in support of Holland in the world cup.

The party was good fun and our Sangria stole the show despite the lack of ice. At the party we also made arrangements for a team of various cyclists to accompany us all the way to Maastricht so all in all it was a productive and fun night.

Utrecht. Sat 3rd July.

Jim began the day with a flat tyre which was successfully diagnosed and fixed by the 'daring duo’ with the more practically gifted Tim and Anthony from last year’s trip nowhere to be seen! During the afternoon we explored the lovely city of Utrecht in between the heavy rain showers. We were both pleasantly surprised with how nice the city was having never associated it with being one of Holland’s more famous cities before. In the evening we had the place to ourselves, so we opened up a bottle of red, repacked our panniers, cooked a mixed grill, watched the football and had an early night, wild!

A kind dude we met at the party also dropped round three maps that he bought for us as a gift – cheers Ronald!

Utrecht to Den Boosh/Vught (80km). Sun 4th July.

The new team which included Julia, Jorinde and Sjors rolled out of Utrecht at 10:30, progress was good until Jorinde’s veteran bike began to cause some problems! Two puncture repairs and one new inner tube later the problems were still occurring so she sadly had to retire after about 25km. Not before we’d all stopped for lunch in Culemborg , which was amazing, another big open Dutch sandwich which even Jim could not falter. The rest of us eventually rolled into Den Boosh at 20:00. Having had a quick look round the city we had Pizza for dinner (as everything else in Holland is too bloody expensive) before Julia and Sjors got the train back up north. Thanks guys, we had a great day and big thanks to Julia for putting us up for three nights – a nice start to the trip.

It was now gone 22:00 and we still needed somewhere to sleep, we headed for Vught just south of the City as we wanted to visit a museum there the following morning. After looking for a safe place to pitch for all of 10 minutes a nice lady asked us if we needed any help, we explained our situation and she very kindly offered us to camp in her garden (there are always vacancies in the brotherhood of man)! We arrived at her house to melon, beer, wi-fi and lovely Dutch company and ended up sleeping under their mosquito proof gazebo, result! Big thanks to Auke, Evie and Job!

Den Boosh/Vught to South of Eindhoven (55km). Mon 5th July.

After waking in our readymade tent in Auke’s garden, we were treated to a cracking Dutch breakfast of cereal, yoghurt and strawberries and a bloody good cappuccino I might add. This set us up for a busy morning as Auke led us to the memorial and museum for Camp Vught, a concentration camp from the Second World War. Both of us were filled with mixed emotions as we browsed the names on the memorial as many of those who died were very close to our age. Below the names was the ditch that the bodies were dragged from after being executed, most of whom in the month leading up to the American led liberation as the Nazis cowardly attempted to cover up their atrocities. A terrible waste and disregard for the beauty of life, upsetting us greatly.

As we returned to Auke’s to pick up the remainder of our bags we were both caught in a downpour much to our annoyance, I blame Jim (sorry Lint I cannot control the weather). Although our mood was soon on the up as we were presented with an early lunch by Auke, unexpected but worth the surprise due to some notable Old Amsterdam mature cheese, which we managed to consume more than half of. Bellies more than full "again" we hit the road to Eindhoven. This was a fairly uneventful cycle on straight cycle paths that were lined with trees either side, with both of us bouncing along to Pink Floyd and Radiohead on our respective MP3 players. On the outskirts of Eindhoven we were acquainted with a giant Michael Jackson statue littered with tributes, very random but we managed some great photos.

Once in Eindhoven we headed for the train station to meet a Dutch guy called Khio whom we met at the party in Utrecht, he had agreed to join us on the next step of our travels to Maastricht. Khio gave us a brief tour of the city taking in the main sights Eindhoven had to offer including the Phillips Stadium, Cathedral and UFO! The plan was to eat into the distance between Eindhoven and Maastricht so we didn’t have too far to go the next day, yet the only thing we wanted to eat was dinner so we set up camp just south of Eindhoven in a secluded forest. A great night followed with beers, red wine and music with our friend who had us in stitches with his amusement of Snoop Dogg and a moth we named Mitch, it was definitely a case of you had to be there.

South of Eindhoven to Maastricht (95km). Tues 6th July.

Tuesday morning was a strange one as around five in the morning we were awoken by a ridiculously loud peacock, this caused havoc in the camp as it seemed it would never stop shrieking. A lengthy lye in proceeded this after a few too many drinks the previous night meaning we were on the road much later than planned, but nevertheless Jim still chose this point for something else to go wrong with his bike which again delayed us further (broken screw Linton). The ride to Maastricht though was perfect trailing a canal the majority of the way through the beautiful Dutch countryside also crossing the Belgian border, another country to add to our list. Moments like this make cycling seem the only way to travel.

Leaving Khio at the station in Maastricht we headed to our place of rest for the night at Tom’s a Dutch student who Jim contacted on couchsurf. Luckily for us he was a great guy with great friends who we partied with through the night joining them in the celebration of Holland reaching the World Cup final, the streets were crazy in jubilation a great experience we’ll never forget. It’s a shame we won’t be in Holland for the final as they are now officially our adopted team, Hup Holland!!

Maastricht. Wed 7th July.

On a day when we planned to leave Maastricht and begin our epic trek though Germany we find ourselves at 22:07 watching Germany vs Spain..... in Maastricht! Partially due to Jim’s back break needing fixing, again and partially due to Linton being convincingly beaten by a hangover, again! Jim did manage drag Linton around the beautiful city however the groans and moans were frequent and grating. This included a 280 step climb up the church tower by Vrijthof Square where at one point Linton was seriously knocking out one groan per step!

The weather today was lovely and we really enjoyed what Maastricht had to offer. We are also very grateful to Tom and his friends for their excellent company and hospitality especially the burrito dinner and we once again have a flat to ourselves, another early night Nightsy?!

Early start tomorrow and then Bonn by Friday afternoon where we couchsurf with Dan. The plan is to be done with Germany by the end of next weekend and then to have left Budapest by 1st August.

Onwards - ich bin ein Berliner!

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