Now that we had a camper picked out, we were eager to hit the road. Unfortunately, we had to wait several days for our wire transfer to reach Donna’s bank and for the camper dealership to get an oil change and an “APK” inspection performed on our camper. The APK is basically like a road worthiness certificate that you need before you sell a vehicle here in the Netherlands.
While we had time to kill, we made the most of it by sight-seeing in Utrecht. As scenic as Amsterdam is, I liked Utrecht better. It’s a smaller city with a college-town feel, but it still has some of the canals and old-world charm of Amsterdam. This year’s Tour de France bike race will actually start in Utrecht, so if you tune in for the TV coverage you might see some of Utrecht for yourself. We walked around the city for a couple days and also rented bikes from our hotel. Now, I realize our rental bikes were a bit heavy and slow, but I was surprised how fast all the locals would bike past us. Even old ladies on “grandma” bikes are no slouches!
Speaking of bikes, one thing we did while in Utrecht was to shop for bicycles. Yes, even though we won’t be traveling by bike like we did in the U.S., we still want to carry bikes on our camper so we can go for bike rides wherever we stop along the way. We figured bicycle shopping would be easy in the Netherlands because there are a bazillion bikes here, but it wasn’t so straightforward. There are a ton of bikes here, but most of them are heavy city bikes with only a few gears. We wanted lighter bikes with more gears so we could more easily go up the hills we expected to encounter. Not all of Europe is as flat as the Netherlands, ya know?
So while in Utrecht we stopped in probably a dozen or more bike shops. We looked at city bikes, mountain bikes, used bikes, new bikes, even folding bikes (maybe we could take them home on the plane), but nothing really seemed to fit the bill. We didn’t want to spend too much for a couple reasons. First, we didn’t want expensive bikes we had to worry about getting stolen while traveling, and second, we would probably just leave these bikes behind when we left Europe. It wouldn’t be worth the hassle to try and fly home with them. In the end, we decided to wait until we had the camper so we could drive around to big bike shops that might have some cheap, but decent bikes.