I had never seen such many bicycles in my life like those that welcomed me in the Netherlands. Once I got off the airport and connected to the train station to Utrecht I saw so many bicycles like I had never seen but nothing prepared me for the many I would later see in Utrecht.
I was traveling for work which I always mix with extra days of touring. The destination was Utrecht which houses the Vakantibeurs – a travel expo held yearly in January where Kagera Safaris was exhibiting. This is where several countries and companies come to sell their destinations to travelers found in the Netherlands and the surrounding countries. First shock for me was that it was winter – this has never been my favorite time of travel because my body decided that it thrives better in the tropics. Never mind that I try to convince it by dressing for the weather, alas it continuously chooses not to respond positively. Anyways I still manage to make it through to these areas when i must travel in the winter on certain occasions.
On this particular travel it was difficult because I had two suit cases which were heavy with marketing material. I tried to maneuver to the train station and out and then find the bus which proved to be tricky business. A random man helped me with the luggage until I located my train, then I needed to prepare for the disembarking experience. On arrival at the station, I could not locate the lift ( I still think it was not available) so I had to use the stairs – this was when I missed home because someone could easily help or the use of Bodabodas would come in handy. I simply prayed and wondered how I would make it up the stairs and lo and behold, an African man stops by greets me and goes ahead to help carry the suitcases up the long stairways. This is the kind of hospitality I celebrate over and over as opposed to a culture of individualism where people look away instead of helping. As we exchanged pleasantries we discovered that we were both from Uganda and we quickly switched to speaking Luganda – one of the most common languages spoken in Uganda. I thanked God for bringing that man at just the right time and causing him to be interested in helping me.
Back to the topic…the rest of the week went without much drama. I enjoyed attending the expo. Took time off to tour the town and visit different areas. Netherlands has done a great job of providing walkways for pedestrians but their favorite a certainly the bicycles. I do not think there is a better place to ride bicycles than in the Netherlands. The car drivers are respectful of cyclists and a big population rides to and from work or school. It was quite shocking for me to find a public place where they parked bicycles which is the largest I have ever seen with even double storied parking – bwaahahahaha. All those advocating against carbon emissions from cars should consider giving the Netherlands a medal because they have made it safe and enjoyable for people to cycle.