Netherlands

On cycling, the countryside and making friends with the weather.

Opoefiets_lara

Several years ago, I was properly introduced to Opafiets and Omafiets summer experience in the Low Lands. And my, that was hard hitting one for someone with feeble might of tropical slash city stamina like me. I fell a couple of times on hard Dutch tarmac (which also absorbs vehicle noise by the way) because I am not used to how saddle set on an Omafiets and was forcing myself to keep up with cycling-sightseeing of 25 km. I learn much about Dutch countryside and my personal physical endurance that day.

I’ve grown since then, fortunately.

The distance from where I live at the moment to where I take my horse riding lesson is about 15 km away. I travel this distance using bicycle which normally takes 45-50 minutes. There are two routes I normally take, one includes a track through a Bos (forest) and the other one is around and over a hill. Both are quite scenic because you cycle by Rhein river and you take a short ferry ride to get you to the other side. From there you can choose going through the forest or just around the hill. As time counts, my horse riding activity easily takes up half of my day, an hour cycling to, half an hour preparing the horse, 15 minutes to take off saddle and reigns, half an hour to an hour of rest and then another hour of cycling back. It is indeed one day of the week that I look forward to.

There is another thing I have grown into since living in the Netherlands: the weather. I used to think that all these weather talks are small talks, or friendly talk as an intro to opening up a conversation to a stranger. While it is true to some extent, I also think the weather is genuinely important part of people’s daily life in the Low Lands more so than say other parts of Europe or in my case people in Indonesia. And it made sense, in the Low Lands weather changes ever so oft you would want to know how much wind there going to be on the way to horse riding, how much rain and when to do large grocery shopping, when to plant your flowers or vegetables or what kind of weather the ferryman will face that day operating the ferry on the river because, why wouldn’t you want to know? . I suppose I picked up a habit of wanting to know what the weather would be like with all its details, so these days I check http://www.buienradar.nl/ especially when outdoor activities is involved in my schedule.

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Caspar David Friedrich, Woman at the Window (1822) Description: The artists’ wife, Caroline Friedrich, in his studio in Dresden ‚An der Elbe 33‘, Date: 1822, Medium: oil on canvas, Dimensions: 44 × 37 cm (17.3 × 14.6 in)

The Countryside vs The Citylife

I used to think that I am a city person. As in, metropolitan multicultural melting pot – the idea of being in the midst of all things trendy and happening was very appealing to the younger me. But then I get several chances to experience living in the countryside. To my surprise, I quite like it – I like how quiet it is, I like that you have to plan things ahead instead of following impulse to, say buy something or go somewhere or just hang out with friends. It is also nice to see more greens than concretes. Its relieving. Oh such an old soul I am.

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