We had a lovely journey yesterday from Duiven to Utrecht. There were excellent cycle paths, mostly alongside two major roads – but separate from the road, wide enough for at least three bikes comfortably abreast, shaded by trees and with a lot of very smooth tarmac. The route was gently undulating. One of my most pleasant cycling days ever.
Today was very hot and we cycled only into the centre of Utrecht and back. There is a very large railway museum here that gets very good reviews so we took the dedicated hourly shuttle train from Utrecht Central Station. The museum was very good but unfortunately we spent more time there than planned because the shuttle train seemed to stop running unexpectedly. After waiting in the sun for a couple of trains that didn’t arrive we were advised to walk 10 minutes or so to a bus stop.
One of the museum staff showed us a map and gave us really helpful advice about the bus stop with the best service to Central Station. She told us that our train tickets would be valid on the bus. The driver of the first bus disagreed, alas, but fortunately the second bus driver was more accommodating, and a charming local who had overheard all of this checked that we were OK and not terminally lost when we got back to the station. We were not, but it would have been a lot easier to cycle to the railway museum!
Utrecht has a pretty serious bike parking issue. I took some pictures of the double-decker bike racks at the station and the overspill bikes crammed into every space, but I could not do the scale of the bike parks justice. This was just one park by one of the station entrances! Once again, we were rescued by a friendly local who saw us searching for a bike space and recommended another huge bike across the road. This was also almost full, but we managed to squeeze our bikes in. It’s not surprising at all that there is such a shortage of bike parking as everybody cycles here, and in whatever they happen to be wearing. I saw several women on bikes in smart office clothing and stilettos. And nobody wears a helmet except roadies, and not even all of them. We were cycling around in Lycra and with helmets, which might as well have had ‘TOURIST’ printed on them.
In spite of some complications, a good day in Utrecht, and a lot of spontaneous help from kind and friendly Dutch people. Sadly, tomorrow we cycle to IJmuiden again to catch the ferry home overnight. As always, we are full of ideas about where we might visit on the next bike tour.