Chris' 1994  R100GS/PD ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650

Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

July 10, 1999 -- ready to take on Norway!

10,000 kilometers and 9 countries later...

-- Story by Erin --

On Wednesday, July 7th we said goodbye to Rudi and Martine and thanked them for their wonderful generosity and hospitality.  Now we were headed further north into the Netherlands and to Amsterdam for a few days.  Our ride was very uneventful as we wanted to make some good time on the roads and took the major motorways.  We arrived in Amsterdam in the early evening and began to search the city center for some reasonably priced motels or pensions.  After checking 3 places (all over $90/night and some with no vacancy) we decided to check the campgrounds.  The first we found was just over a short bridge and across a large canal from downtown Amsterdam.  The price was right but it was very crowded and near a busy motorway, so we decided to check another one down the road.  As we followed the signs we passed through a very lovely small town called Durgerdam which faced a large bay.  On one side of the street were small houses, all unique, and on the other side were boats moored to docks just over a small stretch of grassy bluff.  As we rolled through town we spied a small, handwritten sign that said "Zimmer"---in many languages this means "room available".  So we quickly pulled over to check it out.   Chris went into the small cafe to inquire about the room and I sat outside watching the bikes, not holding out much hope that we could afford it.

View from the gasthouseChris returned with a big smile on his face and said it was perfect.  As it turned out it was $50/night for a lovely small one-bedroom guest house that was located just behind the main house.  It had everything, a full bathroom, living room, kitchen and dining area.  We could even get CNN International on the TV!  This was luxury!  Behind our little house was a farm with about 20 cows peacefully grazing each morning and night.  We stayed for 2 nights, but almost wished we could have stayed longer.

We had heard about the bad theft problems in Amsterdam, both from friends we've met in other countries and also from the locals we had met while looking for a hotel that first night.  So the next day we decided to leave the bikes locked up at our little home and catch the bus into the city.  When we arrived in Central Station (a central spot in the city where all the trains and buses arrive) I was surprised at the sheer masses of people.  AmsterdamI haven't seen this many people since leaving New York City and I had to reacquaint myself with this environment.  We managed to find the main transportation ticketing office and purchased tickets for a canal boat ride and a bus ticket home that night.  We wandered the streets for awhile, marveling at the large cones of pommes frittes with mayonnaise that were being served up from little take-out counters, and checking out a few of the sights like the Royal Palace and Madam Trousseau's Wax Museum.  Now I felt like a real tourist!  Then we took our canal ride and learned a little of the history of the shipping industry and the city's development.  The boat ride was well worth the money and would recommend it to anyone going to Amsterdam in the future.  It's a great way to see the famous architecture as well.

That evening we had a few beers at an internet cafe and chatted with the bartender (a young local woman) and a local patron (a computer programmer) about the drug scene and life in general in Amsterdam.  Then they directed us to a good Chinese restaurant for dinner (yes, I still crave this food!)   The meal was big and delicious and the restaurant was full of Americans.  In fact, all of Amsterdam is full of Americans.  After dinner we set out to find the "red-light district" and walked directly into it.  Surprisingly, it is situated along a pretty little canal with neat little houses up and down both sides of the canal.  As expected however, there were women dressed in lingerie or bikinis sitting in the windows on street level.  The neighborhood reminded me of any street you might walk down in the West Village in New York, but with the added attraction of these "ladies of the evening" in the windows.  Of course we tried to snap some pictures, but the women were quick to duck behind curtains and give us dirty looks.   We ended the night with our bus ride home and bid farewell to Amsterdam.

The next day, July 9th we left our pretty little house near the sea and headed for Norway.  Our trip took 2 days and sent us back into Germany and up into Denmark.  We didn't stop to see much along the way so I won't go into great detail.  But worth mentioning is a historic little town in Denmark called Jelling.  We stopped here on Saturday for lunch and found out much of the history from some locals at the restaurant.  It turns out that Jelling was the original seat of the King and Queen of Denmark and there are special archaeological sites here.   For a quick visit you can see the burial mounds of the king and queen and monuments in their honor.  There is also a pretty little church, one of the original churches of Denmark.  All of this dates back to the 1500's I believe and the time of the Viking ships and warriors.  Much of Denmark is rolling hills or flat farmland up north with a million windmills dotting the horizon.  I thought it was relaxing to drive through, especially north along the coast, but others have commented they think it is boring to look at.

We arrived at the ferry port in Denmark on Saturday evening around 7 p.m.  Our odometers had just passed 6,200 miles (10,000 kilometers)!  We had intended to spend the night in a campground near by and catch the ferry the next morning.  We had been told by the people in Denmark in the tourist information office that we would have no problem getting on the boat with no reservation because we were on motorcycles.   Since we had arrived on Saturday evening earlier than expected, Chris wanted to go to the terminal just to find out what we needed to do for the next day.  Well, long story short---we found out that the ferries were booked solid until Monday night!  A bit of panic rose up in us as we had plans to be picked up by some friends at the ferry terminal in Norway on Sunday afternoon.  So we begged and pleaded for them to make some space for us and they suggested we sit in the "stand-by" line for the 7:30 p.m. boat that was about to leave that night.  It worked, thank goodness, and we were indeed squeezed into a tiny spot of the boat between the huge trailer trucks and mega-sized tour busses, and far away from the other motorcycles.

Friendly Norwegian on the ferryA very friendly Norwegian fellow, an electrician on the boat, noticed we were having difficulties and helped us tie down our bikes.  He then proceeded to invite us to his workshop for a cola and some conversation.  He was so generous he even let us make a phone call to our friends in Norway to notify them of our new arrival time and to send email messages from his computer.  (So if he is reading this now----Many, many thanks!)

So, here I sit watching the sunset on the deck of the ferry.   It is 10:15 p.m. and it will be light for a few hours more after sunset.  I look forward to our next few weeks exploring Norway and it's famous fjords!

10,000 kilometers . . .


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