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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Don't Get Lost!

Today I am walking from Zelhem to Braamt, supposedly about 18 kms - if I didn't get lost..
The morning starts out great, a friend we hadn't had seen or heard from for 40 years (!) came to join me this morning. He lives about 50 kms away from where we are now and a few weeks ago we had managed to reestablish contact. He showed up at the exact arranged time and we first had a cup of coffee before we took off. In spite of the constant talking we did for the next hour we managed to find the route OK.
Margriet came along in his car later on and drove him back to Zelhem where Margriet would stay another day and he returned to Borne because the next night he had to drive to Schiphol since his plane to eastern Africa left at 7 AM in the morning. He was off on a 25 day camping safari through Kenia and Tanzania! (he also just returned from bicycling to Vienna to celebrate retirement :-)

I continued along the trail (alone again for the first time in 2 days). The path wound through forests and small farming areas. Suddenly, the forests ended and I entered the “land between the big rivers”. Three big rivers, the Rijn, Maas and Waal all come close together and run to the North Sea, but enter the Netherlands from the east and south and run relatively close together through a large low lying part of the Netherlands. The land is flat, open and houses large farms. Few trees, just grassland, corn fields and sugar beets.

The trail is relatively easy to find most of the time. The guidebook, parts 1 and 2, has a map (1:50,000) with lots of detail and shows the trail clearly. It even indicates which sections are paved and which are not. In addition there is a description of the trail location, one for travelling north-south and one for those who travel the trail from south to north.
(To order the guide:
Last but not least the red and white markings on trees and sign posts at every intersection sure help a lot. A red and white cross means ‘no go, wrong way’. A red and white block indicates the correct route and often a red and white arrow indicates the direction of the trail. Usually the markings plus the map are enough to keep you on the right track. Occasionally the trail is not very even and, of course, I had to learn the hard way that reading the map while walking is not the smartest way to make progress. After I had twisted my ankle twice I learned my lesson and stopped when I had to study the map or read directions.
After 18 kms or so I reached the end of the day’s trail, but the B&B at which I had a reservation was another 2 or 3 kms off the route. Unfortunately, the directions had not been very good and I wondered around for a while before I found the right place.
It sure did not help that the address was ‘Oud Doetichemse weg’, because there is also a ‘Doetichemse weg’ and to make matters worse there is the  ‘De oude Doetichemse weg’. Three very similar street names in one village is bad, but the same three names can be found not only in Kilder where I had to be, but also in Zeddam (a small village nearby), in Braamt (another small village nearby) and in the city of Doetichem a few kms down the road. It was a true miracle that I did find the right place eventually.
(Note from Margriet: he actually phoned me and I got on Google Maps to find out at which intersection he was standing and where the B&B was located so that I could tell him which direction to walk. When I asked why he didn't just ask a passerby, he said "I did twice! But I can't understand them!" People in each region here he such strong dialects that it sounds like a different language... :-)

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