A weekend away in Den Helder

On Friday morning we headed to Den Helder, a little port city in the north, and less than an hour and a half’s train ride from central Amsterdam. While there was a beach fairly close to our Airbnb, as well as Texel Island with beaches a short ferry ride away, it was anything but “beach weather” on the weekend. But then again, the Dutch don’t really stop for any weather, and I even saw some swimmers in the sea during my run in four degrees and wind on Sunday.

Pushing my bike through the station, while lugging some luggage (poor Andrew pushed his bike and wheeled two cases), I thought about how different we travel these days. Gone are the Audis, and in are the bikes, and while we could have ditched our bikes and driven to Den Helder, travelling by train is so easy, plus we wanted our bikes there to explore the city and ride around Texel.

Here’s a look at then vs now:

Then: Leave the house, ensure everything is locked, set the alarm

Now: Close the door of our apartment, while hoping all my baby plants survive the weekend

Then: Drive off to a holiday or head to the airport

Now: Andrew rides his bike to one of the nearby stations, then walks back home. Max and I cycle to the station, and Andrew and Rebecca take an Uber with the luggage (because there’s no way I’m packing a little backpack for three nights away in spring-that-feels-like-winter). They meet us there, and we try to find our groove with the luggage and bikes. It turns out that I can only do one thing at a time, and cannot push my bike and wheel a bag – all I can manage is my laptop bag and the snack bag in my basket.

There are some elevators involved as we can’t go down the escalators with our bikes, so we go in twos. We head to central station, and politely get told that our bikes in the middle of the train, and need to be between carriages, so as not to obstruct traffic. Get off at central, then look for the train to Den Helder. More elevator coordination required. The train arrives and we head for the first bike carriage where we can store our bikes. The first one is full, and so is the second, and just as we’re about to just shove the bikes anywhere, the doors close and we have to wait 25 minutes for the next train.

The train arrives – there is no dilly dallying and we go in with a plan and some stubbornness. Fortunately our bikes are the first ones on, and we “park” them in their correct spot.

Then: Get to destination (more or less). Settle in, drive to wherever we need to go.

Now: Get to destination. Wait outside with the bikes and luggage while Andrew cycles to get the keys to our AirBnB. He comes back, leaves his bike at the station, and then we all walk (Max and I wheeling our bikes and Andrew wheeling the bags and Rebecca on her Trunki case) around 500m to our AirBnb. We arrive, put our bikes in the apartment, and climb a staircase that is narrower than the width of our suitcase.

Settle in, Andrew walks to station to collect his bike. When he comes back, I walk to Albert Heijn around 500m away to buy some groceries for the weekend (the first of two trips as I worried we wouldn’t have enough – Jewish mom alert!)

Our “now” holiday is neither better nor worse than before – it’s just different, and is everything we imagined this adventure to be (minus the snow on the way back to the station before heading home – I mean, it’s “spring” after all). I did however miss family a lot this weekend, and had a lot of yearning for the Two Oceans Marathon, always run on Easter. It was cancelled this year, but I’m heartsore for the memories (and the white Easter eggs after the race. And before. And during).

I don’t know where our next holiday will take us, and while it’s uncomfortable at times not knowing what will be next month and after, I’m becoming accustomed to the discomfort and flowing with life at the moment.

And, some running views (of course!)

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