We woke up at dawn on a riverside beach – right on the bike path, nobody cared – so Lily could catch a train the rest of the way into Frankfurt to be with her mom, who was stopping through on her way back to Australia. I was to find a campsite outside the city that we could stay at for more than just one night – the plan was to head off for Budapest after my birthday, a few days away.
It was nice to be up early; I pedalled liesurely toward the city. A nice German guy and his dog cycled with me for a bit and kept me on track. Nearing the airport complex – the Frankfurt airport is one of the biggest in Europe – the bike paths actually continued, with signposts even, under and around all the hectic mess of audobon on/off ramps, which is normally an impossible nightmare to bike through. Go German cycle networks!
Then up ahead I saw a pair of loaded bikes coming my way! (more…)
The plan was to zip back up to Maastricht to see a couple of people, then turn right around and rush across France and the Pyrenees a thousand miles in three weeks for La Criticona, the world-wide critical mass in Madrid. Once back in Limburg, I would only check in with Paul, a Belgian sailor mate I met while sailing across the Atlantic, and meet up with Patrick Buckley, son of the Irishman who welded my bike frame, who I’d promised to visit if I were ever in the Netherlands, then quick head back South. (more…)
FIRST DAY IN FRANCE
The first thing we did in France, just across the border, was Kiss. Bien sur! (more…)
When you travel slowly, as you do on a bike, you can notice the little changes.
Sailing for two months from the Caribbean to England, the temperature of the air and water decline ever so gradually, day by day, a natural change that is unnoticable except in hindsight.
Approaching the border of a different country, one can detect shifts of dialect in the simple words of neighbors, like a bleeding language buffer on either side of the invisible line – especially in Belgium, where both Dutch and French are official languages of the state.
Geography follows this gentle course as well. (more…)
We didn’t leave right away, of course.
A couple more days at the squat in Leiden…. working the security-barricade door at a huge techno party; “Whaddya mean everyone has to have invitations? Nobody has an invitation!”…. an impromptu scavenger hunt, conceived on a whim, with our legs dangling over the canal: one broken inner tube, some cat hair, and a poster with Dutch written on it; one white flower, a high-pitched noise, and one shoestring; all found within 45 minutes on the brisk Spring streets of Leiden…. a speech, requested by our host after a Wednesday night eetcafe, about my trip and my philosophies…. one final, quiet dinner with Sandor – an oldschool squatter with the use of only one arm(still rides his bike – coaster brake – still rolls spliffs no problem and still cooks vegan gourmet deliciousness)…. some city sights we didn’t discover till our last day…. aah Leiden – one of the gems of Holland.
Amsterdam wasn’t just coffeeshops and bikes to me. For me, Amsterdam was where I felt like I really joined the Revolution.
This revolution – it’s not in the history books yet, but (more…)
When Lily came to Casa Robino, I was breaking in my new Dutch army-surplus boots and thinking about hitting the road soon; but that all changed in a flurry of excited heartbeats. I quickly found myself under an intensifying joyous magic spell; with a huge grin that wouldn’t leave my face, a sponanteous kiss on the dancefloor, and a potent infusion of soul-feeding, life-embracing energy, it was clear that our paths lay together.
Life began to sparkle and shine like never before.
My first day at “Casa Robino,” I asked where the bathroom was. Simple question, I thought; it should have a simple answer.
“Just open all the doors – you’ll find it,” was the simple reply.
The sky is contoured, like a topographical map suspended in an ancient cosmic dome. Puffy white mountains move at the rate of eons, roiling slowly, imperceptibly, across a great ocean of sapphire crystal blue, adamantly driven by condensation-drenched forests of darkening matte gray.
As you step onto the streets of Amsterdam, (more…)