When I decided to attend Dutch Princess School–an intensive language immersion at the famed Regina Coeli Institute–I chose to stay in an apartment in the town next door. Would I be able to actually bike between towns every day?
It seemed like it had to be possible. After all, this is a place that includes bikes in every layer of their daily lives–check out this super-cute bike garage in Delft, complete with a painted tile. (Delft is world-famous for its blue-and-white ceramic Delftware):
Still, it’s not the most natural thing for a non-fixie, non-hard-core American cycling enthusiast to figure out. How does it all work? I had read about the bicyclist-only road signs. Would I miss them? Be unable to decipher their directions?
I shouldn’t have worried. If there’s one thing the Dutch excel at, it’s organization.
In Holland, which–strictly speaking–is a province in the north part of the Netherlands, three main cities make up the heart of the “randstad“: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and the Hague, which abuts Delft (home to the bike garage pictured above).
Got all that?
No matter–the point is that the clever Dutchies, seeing their industrial, crowded cities spreading together like the cities of China’s Pearl River Delta decided to preserve the lush meadowland that lies between all the cities of the randstad.
To see how easy it was to get around by bike, we headed into the Groene Hart.
Here’s your road through the Groene Hart, a.k.a. the “green heart”:
In between moments of quiet solitude, you’ll come across sheep. Or cows. Or bridges. Or high schoolers taking their horses out for a little run. Here’s a little shot of rush hour in the Groene Hart:
Oh, and those street signs I was worried I might miss, or not be able to interpret? They’re easy peasy, and include nearby towns, landmarks, and the mileage in kilometers:
Stay tuned to find out how it actually went when I needed to bicycle between towns to language school. Eep!