The Captain’ s Call

On two occasions Peter James-Martin has on this cycle trip, given a SOA (Statement of Advice) with respect to the recommended restaurant for our evening meals. Let me state quite categorically that as a financial planner he has no equal, but when it comes to deciding food versus finances, he should stick with matters of mensuration rather than  mastication. For the first and last nights in Amsterdam, he called it! Our opening meal at an Italian eatery that gave new meaning to “al dente”. 

The final evenings choice an Indonesian restaurant. It’s a given, demurred Peter that as the Dutch established their eponymous East Indies Trading Company, he adamantly knew that the best country for Indonesian cooking had to be Holland. Well the Indonesia establishment chosen was within an earshot of the famous Concertgebouw. Looking through the window, Peter further advised that it appeared busy , possibly with pre concert patrons. Using all of his tremendous financial intellect, he further advised that this obvious observation led him to the recommend that we take up the option forthwith. We entered. It was certainly busy if one acknowledged that all 4 window seats were taken. The rest of the dark dismal diner was as empty as a nun’s wedding chest. A large cat appeared alive although asleep on a cushion on the window ledge. It appeared as safe and secure as any feline might in an asian eatery . 

The maitre-de was, we assumed from Indonesia as he was a dusky shade of cinnamon, even allowing for the gloomy lighting. He was one of the most disinterested restaurateurs I have come across! The menu was basically any combination of beef, chicken, prawns or tofu with either rice or noodles! No surprises here. We mulled over these dauntung choices somewhat to the irritation of our host. Peter attempted to engage him by asking for a “wine list”. Rather than placate him it added to his irritated boredom as he repeated “wine list”? In a manner befitting of Basil Fawlty he indicated that the choices were so straightforward as to not actually need a list : red wine, white wine, beer or soft drink. Well consider it done we said and diplomatically requested the “red”. He wandered off, went several times in out of swinging doors to the kitchen for no apparent reason as on each occasion he appeared empty handed and we were yet to place our order. Although I did notice that each time he did so, the cat in the window gave a somewhat nervous startle. 
Eventually he meandered back with the bottle and 2 glasses. He poured both Peter and I a glass. Pamela politely suggested that she also wanted a glass! His response was of stunned uncertainty. Looking like a cross between Basil Fawlty and the President of the Christian Women’s Temperance Association, he was at pains to confirm he had heard correctly. Once confirmed he again repeated the kitchen door ritual several times before returning with a glass, thus thankfulky both Pamela and pussy were placated.

By now we were ready to order and the reader will hopefully recall the options were rice (plain, yellow, sticky) or noodles with various combinations. Easy peasy! We settled on a rice dish and 2 noodle dishes! I kid you not – the host explained that noodles were “finished”! FINISHED! We were gobsmacked. Our options reduced by 50%. We should have got up and left but we were so stunned that all sense of reasoning left us! The waiter gave the distinct impression that running out of noodles in an Asian restaurant was quite common and indeed not any cause for alarm. It is all so straightforward he explained : 3 people and there are fortuitously 3 choices of rice. His reasoning was faultless. The whole incident has left me scarred for life so much so that I cannot recall what we eventually ordered!

Anyway I am now at a truely special village and hotel on day 3. Here is a taste of the walk on day 2. I shall add a blog about last night hotel and hosts! 

The Red Deer Walk- day 1

Well if the weather holds true to form, this will be a fantastically  memorable walk! In true Germanic style it is an outstandingly organised hiking trail, which any human with a modicum of orientation could navigate. My sense of orientation was instilled from birth. 

A little like the Camino Trail in Spain where one simply follows the yellow Nautilus, here one follows a red diamond and the Sign of the Red Deer – the only hiccup being the Deer is in fact green! As there is a significantly high proportion of German men who are colour blind, I guess it’s not so much of an issue, to Germans or  one was still walking at night. Here I must confess that I did become mildly lost ( if there are indeed degrees of “lostness” ) and faced the prospect of finishing in the dark.

The other totally unanticipated bonus was my accommodation! Again if the first two hotels are to be the standard for the week, then I could spend months in the Schwarzwald living like a decadent movie star. The Germans call them “wellness centres”. 

hotel langenwaldsee at Freudenstadt

my room hotel oberwiessenhof at Besenfeld

One was greeted at reception by a buxom wench dressed in German national costume who would have passed muster for a Bavarian Beer Hall and made Vivienne jealous. Sadly I have yet to be welcomed by Kurt in leadenhose. 
At the hotel in Besenfeld at reception I was asked if I would be in for dinner and breakfast, of course I replied. Here is my reserved table for dinner and breakfast!

the dining room

my reservation at dinner.

breakfast again with quaint place name

The wellnes centres of both hotels were dazzlingly decadent and could have been lifted out of an ancient Roman bathhouse or the public baths at Budapest! Spas, saunas, steam rooms and swimming pool with showes that shot water out of multiple orifices at every few centimeters around the wall!  Marble, slate and terrazzo added a final Greek touch! 

So here are a few pictures of the first day -24 km easy! The rest of the week is truely a walk in the woods only about 15 km a day! Even Pamela could cope whilst Michelle would surely approve of the accommodation!

the start!

Cycle Holland last day

We left Utreck in light drizzle – so called Dutch drizzle! Refer pictures. Only in Holland would one see a cyclist riding hands free  in drenching rain – an open umbrella in one and an iPhone in the other!

Then the sun came out on this our last day! 

Gouda to Utreck

Another day that continuously threatened rain, but did not! But there was a ray of sunshine as our luggage was waiting for us at the hotel Malie, Utreck! 

The day’s cycling was quite enjoyable as it remained rain free and the moderate wind seemed mostly to be from behind or at worst, a cross wind! Meandering through villages with canals running parallel to the streets and lush green fields with contented cud chewing cows! 

the sea scouts boats!

the family boat parked at the front gate

Some shots of a village where we stopped for coffee and I purchased a waterproof BBB bike holder attachment and case for the iPhone – which has been exceedingly accurately and useful for GPS navigation using app! Get it ! Better than the Garmin

Thence to Utreck where around 4:30 the rain came! In buckets! Then cleared as quickly as it started! Utreck is a University town – here the students seem to boat rather rowdly along the canals, a far cry from a Cambridge punt. 

Gouda pronounced…

it’s a guttural  “K”… ouda – from back of the throat. 

Another dull overcast day with spitting rain interspersed with periods of  dry but ominous scudding clouds. Not conducive to stopping or photography! 

Otherwise if sunny it would have been a totally enjoyable day of cycling ! We arrived damp and a little despondent, aggravated further by the late arrival of our luggage around 6:30 pm. 

And of course we all would recognise Gouda cheese? A few pics of the village square. 

the Gouda municipal council chambers!