July 12 – Meppel to Zwolle
After yesterday’s rain, today dawned fine and as we pedalled off through the streets of Meppel, it even felt like it was going to be a warm one. Ripper! Today’s ride was completely sans GPS and all we used for navigation was my “bicycle bingo” calls as we followed our sequence of numbers. With thunderstorms on the way, it was only going to be a short ride, to make sure we made a destination and shelter before the weather struck, so we pedalled off, following our bingo signs.
We were on a road for a little while, then out into the country, along quiet lanes and then cycle paths beside a canal. The sun began to shine, it was warm, there was no wind and it was fantastic.
We took a turn off the path to ride into the little town of Hasselt, for a look. What a lovely little place. Cobbled streets weaved through the town, houses lined the canal, a glockenspiel played a tune from a tower in the distance and it was pretty and peaceful and quaint.
We found a park, with some feathered locals as company and enjoyed a peaceful elevenses beside the canal. All the towns we’ve been through in The Netherlands have been absolutely lovely. They are pretty and charming and neat as a pin. Hasselt was another of those and with the warm, fine weather staying with us, it was all just lovely.
We rode on, along the top of a dyke, with farms and canals around us and it continued to be a lovely ride. The scenery was lovely, the towns were lovely, the weather stayed kind. Lovely! Then we pedalled into the city of Zwolle. Zwolle was bustling with a market and bikes aplenty and as we wheeled our way through the streets, we hit another milestone. We clocked up our 3000th kilometre.
With the sky beginning to darken, we sought out a spot in a park to get in some lunch before the weather changed. As we sat there, the thunder began to rumble, the wind picked up and it was time to make a move and try to reach the hotel before we got a drenching. As we pedalled through the streets, the lightning flashed ahead of us and the thunder continued to rumble. We made it to our pitstop and we were able to check in early, so we sat in solid walls, listening to the thunder outside.
We sat it out for a while and there was a lot of noise and flashing in the sky, but in the end not much rain to speak of, so we took our chance to head back into the city to have a roam. Zwolle was interesting, in that it’s a city with a medieval centre, but rather than having an Old Town, the historic centre has been modernised. Not in a garish way, but the cobbled streets and back laneways are lined with cafes and shops and there were a lot of pedestrianised areas, so it really seemed to cater for the commercial rather than tourist trade. We walked along the old city walls, beside the moat, which is actually star shaped, through the original old city gates and then up and down the multitude of cobbled streets.
Just as we finished our roam, the rain started to come down, so up went the brolley and on went the coat and we made our way back to the shelter of our room. When we arrived, I said hello to the hotel cat, who enjoyed a chin rub and then we settled back in, to let the weather do whatever it wanted outside. We saw later on the local news, that the thunderstorms had struck with a vengeance a little south of us with some major flooding. So we managed to dodge it and only got some of the sound effects, without the downpour.
It was only a short ride, but it was a top day, with a little milestone achieved as well. It was a lovely ride through the countryside, lovely little towns, lovely scenery beside the canals…it was all just lovely! We only got the edges of the weather, so we had a nice warm day, with no wind and we were reminded of why it’s so nice to ride here. Hopefully the rest of the thunderstorms that are predicted will be as kind to us as today’s, at least holding off until we’re out of the way, while we pedal on tomorrow. More paths to follow, more towns to visit, more scenery to gaze at, Dutch delights to discover…sounds lovely!
Distance ridden: 38.5 km
Time in the saddle: 2 hours 51 minutes
Weather: grey, then sunny, warm, then thunder and lightning, then some rain, 19C