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Day 7 - Breda to Rotterdam - 71km

As mentioned earlier nothing but nothing opens before 9 am in either Belgium or The Netherlands so trying to find a coffee and some breakfast at 8.15 am was problematic. So much so that we were forced to ride 11 km in the direction of Rotterdam before we stumbled upon a cafe at 8.59 that was a minute away from opening. What a find it was too. Quaint little town and having already sighted our first traditional Dutch windmill we feasted upon pancakes and several refills of good coffee. The day was getting off to a good start after all.

Leaving Breda a decision was suggested by Kathryn that instead of relying on the routes offered by STRAVA we take a look at possibly following what Google Maps suggested as a cycling route. This was ostensibly because STRAVA is all about the most direct and popular route chosen by its members and more often than not these are the MAMIL's I have spoken about. Hence the routes offered are not that scenic and tend to focus on getting you from A to B as quickly as possible. The first part of the ride today we were following STRAVA and found ourselves very close to a major motorway. After crossing over an unavoidable large bridge, and on the insistence of Kathryn we turned off the STRAVA routing and used Google Maps to direct us. What a find it was too. Gone were the busy cycling super highways , or close proximity to major roads and instead we found ourselves weaving amongst canals and parks and very quiet little towns devoid of any vehicular traffic.

Again we had a picnic roadside outside a quiet hamlet before setting off to conquer the numerous cycling tunnels that criss crossed the various major canals and rivers we were now encountering as we got closer to Rotterdam.

Finding accommodation in Rotterdam had been problematic from the get go many months ago when I sat down to do the logistics of the ride and for the life of me I couldn't understand why everything was so expensive. Hotel rooms were generally not on offer for a 1 night stay for anything less than 250 EUR. I did some research and discovered the reason. Our 1 night stay in the area coincided with the annual 4 day global shipping container expo.

This resulted us in eventually finding a hotel 10 km to the west of Rotterdam that was perched over the main river. What a find it was too The Delta Hotel if you're ever in that part of the world.

Leaving Breda on a quiet morning was a scenic ride

Coming across our first traditional windmill was a highlight of the morning.

Impressive structures and this one was still in working condition.

The second highlight of the morning was finding this cafe. Hot pancakes and decent coffee made it a memorable start to the day. So did the absence of any rain.

Traditional windmills have long given over to wind turbines and we counted 453,890 of them during the days ride.

Leaving the STRAVA route from Breda to Rotterdam was a godsend and one of Kathryn's many good suggestions. The Google route was infinitely more scenic. Gone were the major roads and hello to sweeping views over the flat Dutch countryside dotted with canals and old windmills.

Impossibly cute chickens crossed our path at one point. Very domesticated and quite possessive of the piece of country lane we found them on.

Chooks with socks.

More traditional windmills

Navigating the main rivers around this part of the world required taking a lift down some 80-100 ft, and then cycling through a spotlessly clean tunnel dedicated solely to cyclists before taking a lift back up at the other end. Cycling infrastructure I seriously doubt you will see anywhere else in the world.

No graffiti, beautifully paved, well lit, no cars, no pedestrians.

We came across this war memorial in the middle of a field just outside of Rotterdam. A sombre reminder of the lives sacrificed. My mother went to High School in Camberwell. Small world indeed.

On occasion we would stop and sit and gaze in wonderment at the world of commerce that was utilising these great waterways.

Rotterdam is the worlds largest. port. We spent the last 10 km cycling its perimeter fence in a howling wind.

A long perimeter fence indeed and not a lot of protection afforded. As an aside we had discovered something else over the previous 2-3 days of cycling on what we thought were dedicated cycling pathways in both Belgium and The Netherlands. If your motor scooter was restricted to no more than 30 kph in maximum speed then you could also ride on the cycle paths. Many a time we were astounded at how quickly they were travelling and the frequency of them as they either headed towards us or rushed by. On this particular section of the ride there were many dock workers utilising the cycle paths. Many of them doing far more than the regulatory 30 kph.

The Delta Hotel. With the skyline of Rotterdam just visible upstream.

Post check in we took the local train some 5 stops into central Rotterdam in search of some dinner and a drink. In the rain which only got heavier. After scoping out the local food market stalls we stumbled upon a rather large Vietnamese restaurant and ate there. Exhausted from the ride and the weather and with it still raining heavily we cut short the tour of Rotterdam and headed back to the hotel via the local train and had our desserts and a nightcap there.

In all my years of travelling by bicycle Rotterdam was probably the first. place I have come across where there was A) no protected bike storage area and B) they steadfastly refused to allow you to take your bike into your room. ''There's an outdoor parking rack which is monitored by CCTV '' she said. All very strange in a country given over to cycling in the manner they are. So as a security measure i took off both our saddles and both front wheels and left the bikes to a cold and wet night outside.


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