I confess that I was not sure we would manage the 95 miles or so from Cologne to Duiven in one day. We were coming back to the Netherlands for more miles on excellent cycle paths and to do a bit more exploring. I had been looking into train times and which trains would take bikes but in a moment of madness decided that would be too soft an option, so we went for the cycle – and booked the hotel in Duiven in advance so we were committed.

It turned out to be a really good day. The weather was kind (grey, slightly drizzly but most of all neither hot nor windy). The roads and paths were mostly flat and reasonably easy to navigate: one detour to find a cafe in the afternoon and two wrong turnings didn’t add much. Our legs were well rested after a day drifting around Cologne sight-seeing (photo from the Rhine cable car below).image

Huge variety of scenery from farmland to suburbs to town centres to heavy industrial areas and back to farmland again. There was also a huge variety of smells to go with all of this. For one quite long stretch the breeze must have been reaching us from a brewery; for another, there was an odd smell of something rotting that I never managed to place. All of these will have been as nothing, though, to the smell of the two of us after a day in the saddle, but to her credit, the lovely receptionist at the equally lovely hotel in Duiven didn’t so much as sniff.

So we made it: tired, rather sore and very hungry but pleased with ourselves. We slept well.

Today we eased out our legs with a round trip of about 20 miles without luggage to the Netherlands Open Air Museum, which I had been very keen to see. It’s a large and very pretty woodland site where a collection of historic buildings from all over the country have been gathered and restored. There are houses, shops and cafes of different vintages and styles, but also things like a printing works, paper mill, laundry, commercial dairy, school house and, of course, several windmills. The buildings are restored inside with displays to show how people lived and worked. There are vintage teams which run round the whole site as well, with conductors in uniform. I loved it and could easily have spent several more hours there.

Lots of other good things will stay with me from the last few days:

– the quality and variety of the busking in Cologne, both singing and instrumental, and of course the stunning Cathedral;
– well thought-out cycle routes, especially after we crossed the border back to the Netherlands;
– the excellent padding in my Vaude cycle leggings and Rose Bikes gloves, which kept me pretty comfortable for the first 80 miles or so.

Tomorrow we pedal on to Utrecht.

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