Social Drinks

I am back in The Netherlands! I just loved it that much that I had to come back.

Really, it was for the King’s Day celebration. And it happened to be on my way.

After lounging with Cesar the hostel dog in Brussels, I spent a couple days in Gent, another medieval city with annoying cobblestone streets and beautiful old buildings. Unlike Bruges, however, this town had great energy. I do wish I’d had more time to explore everything it had to offer. However, as I only have 90 days in the EU and my friend expected me in Antwerp, I had to go.

Hard to tear yourself away when this is the view from bed

Between Gent and Antwerp I’m fairly certain I cycled over 100 kilometers. My route, though somewhat indirect, was only supposed to be 80. But, as I’m not using any navigational devices beyond route markers, it’s somewhat easy for me to become turned around. Thus, I followed the trail half an hour the wrong way out of the city. Thankfully I realized I was not supposed to be following the river, otherwise I might have ended up back in Bruges.

What’s more, the signposts that guide cyclists around the country are somewhat poorly placed and easy to miss. Especially towards the end of the ride, as my stomach rumbled and I ran low on water, I cruised right past most of my markers, having to double back a few kilometers every few minutes. But, somehow, I made it!

Had a great opportunity for a photo shoot, though
Even though they’re weeds, I think dandelions are pretty
I also made some friends along the way

In Antwerp I got to reunite with more friends from Indonesia. Yet again, it was nice to spend time with familiar faces and to have a local bring out the greatest parts of the town’s social life.

There was even a becak to help the nostalgia. Photo obtained from Maaike’s Instagram

A short two days later I set off again, this time for Maastricht, back in Holland. I took the train this time to make sure I was properly energized to celebrate Dutch royalty. This plan ended up working even better than I’d expected thanks to an Amsterdammer named Max. He is in the process of walking from his aforementioned hometown all the way to Santiago de Compostela, Spain (just under 3000 kilometers).

We bonded over being solitary travelers and took on the Maastricht King’s Day festival together. After breakfast, we ended up consuming nothing but beer (and one basket of fries) for the rest of the day. Three squares in the city had become giant outdoor clubs, and everybody danced.

This guy was everywhere

Thanks to Max’s Dutch nativity, he heard from one of the hostel employees about a local party during the night that would be far better than the public venues. After a recharging nap we found the venue: a squatters’ warehouse, filled with hippy vans and dreadlocks. Having no idea what would actually happen, we were delighted by a circus performance by the residents, followed by hundreds of people dancing to Balkan gypsy music and Spanish ska. I had wanted to do something a bit out of the ordinary for awhile, and this festival provided exactly what I needed.

All in all, yet another brilliant week on the road.


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