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BICYCLE TOUR: EUROTOUR 2010

FLAVIO BASSI'S ON-BOARD DIARY

DAY 22

DATE: 28:07:2010
START: HOEK VAN HOLLAND
FINISH: AMSTERDAM
LENGTH: 90 KM
AVERAGE SPPED: 17.8 KM/H
DIFFICULTY GRADE: A1
End with bang
It is missing only the last part. We start from the campsite of Hoek van Holland - very sad, but not indecent - with a bit of melancholy: today it will be the last day of the crossing, life will change tomorrow. We did not yet know the surprise that the finale would have reserved.

The 'North Sea' cycle path is the final bang: immediately we enter a unique area, with mountains made of sand, scrub and a bit of trees. A desert! The path, however, is not missing, a small strip of perfect asphalt with continuous undulating curves that certainly does not harm the natural park where we are.
The views are incredibly beautiful, I had heard but I never imagined that the dunes of the North Sea were so many and so high; we are in a desert but we never felt alone, traffic of cyclists is very high, locals during training or nomadic travelers like us.
The day is windy, but this time the direction of currents is in our favor. This confirms what I've read, the prevailing currents of the North Sea are from west to east. I watch cyclists coming in the opposite direction and I admire them for their tenacity, while I'm a bit sorry for them... sailing with the wind in favor is a real pleasure, in plain you give an inch of power and you are already approaching 25 km/h.
They pass several coastal towns, all touristic, sometimes with the original little antiwind houses instead of the beach umbrellas. In one of them Flavio sees a resale of marine snacks and has the great idea to stop and enjoy something; I imitate him, and the flavors are really good.
Within the mainland they pass towns of the calibre of The Hague and Haarlem; unfortunately now there is not the time for them, we have to arrive at destination and buy the return ticket. Strangely, in fact, the cities' train station earlier refused to sell us a ticket from Amsterdam... what an inefficiency!

We set a room by phone in the hotel which had hosted us two years ago: I have to mention because I appreciate it very much, it is the Hotel van Onna, in the Jordaan. The area is in my opinion the more pictorial and tranquil that we can find, the hotel is fine and the prices are acceptable. Breakfast, however, is not the cyclist's one... it's a pity :)

We arrive in the capital in the afternoon. At the station we have the unpleasant surprise. No train for the coming days, apart from tomorrow night. We were also willing to buy a luxury cabin, but the places for bikes are sold out in all subsequent trains. The next time it needs to study well how to buy a ticket via the internet a few days before, there must be a way... This year we'll weigh anchors only after one day, so we will miss the sensation of static docking at the port after weeks of continuous navigation.

We can not miss the everyday thrill. In the evening while we're looking for a restaurant we pass across the largest city square, the Dam, to see four or five wagons of firefighters, several ambulances and police cars everywhere: the central avenue was being closed with white and red ribbons, pedestrians and trams were evacuated. All without panic, with the highest order. Strangely, instead of running away like I expected, I place myself on the side of the barrage to store the scene. I shoot photos and video. I don't ask anyone what happened and I regret: still today I remain with curiosity. What is certain is that few hours later there was nothing.

The evening concludes with the familiar closed-kitchen problem, which comes back from the Alps on indefinitely, even in Amsterdam. Now I doubt that even in Italy everything shuts as soon as it gets dark. So the restaurant I had chosen among those recommended by the guide do not accept us, they are 21:45 and "I'm sorry, the kitchen is closed" (the beautiful is that they always lay the blame on the kitchen, but the reality is that THEY are closed, not an abstract and distant kitchen). We end up in an anonymous Italian restaurant, expensive and with tiny portions. Terrible.

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