Saturday, June 13, 2015

Biking in Europe-The Netherlands-day 7(The End)

On the final day of our bike ride we experienced picture perfect weather. Even I removed my jacket and  felt the warm breezes off the beaches of the North Sea.

A final glimpse of a towering windmill was bittersweet as we crossed a portion of the sea in a large ferry.

At the ferry ticket office it was necessary for us to show a voucher in order to board the ferry boat. Without the voucher to exchange for a ticket we would be denied passage to the other shore. While enjoying the views during the crossing I was reminded of the verse in 2 Corinthians 1:22: "He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put His spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." I have a guaranteed voucher which will safely transport me from earthly death to the shores of God's heavenly kingdom! Praise God for freely giving this gift to me through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus! Be certain, you, too, have that all important voucher!!

 Brugge, Belgium was our final destination and we arrived by early afternoon. Deb and I then had three goals in mind: experience the sites of the market square with its magnificent architecture, eat REAL Belgium waffles and buy lots of Belgium chocolates. Mission accomplished!

A delicious good bye to a memorable vacation!

Biking in Europe-the Netherlands-days 5 & 6

As the temps begin to rise and the clouds give way to more sun biking becomes more comfortable and the countryside beauty more vivid. The Netherlands has a fluid mixture of water and land, wildlife and grazing herds of cattle, horses, Shetland ponies, sheep, goats, and even an occational lama thrown in for good measure. There is beauty on both sides of the dikes, as well as historical buildings galore!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Biking in Europe-The Netherlands-day 4

Cold and wind were the words to describe this day! We shivered and battled a strong northeast wind for hours. No other choice is possible when on a bike tour-forge ahead. To add "insult to injury" we got lost, for three hours! The biking company provided portable GPS devises for each bike but there was no alternate routes when you encountered bike trail construction! In and around the town of Dordrecht two sections of the designated trail were blocked. Before we finally located an alternate route we crossed one bridge three times and asked at least 8 different Dutch citizens which direction to follow!
When we finally left the area we looked across a field and discovered we could still see last night's hotel, (after 3 hours on the bike!).
Yet in the midst of this tough day we discovered two little spots of rest and rejuvenation. Around 1:00 p.m. we all realized our stomachs were demanding some food but the size of the little hamlets we were biking through did not warrant restaurants. Our supply of fruit was gone so Larry approached a local and with little language skill demonstrated our need to eat using hand gestures. (He is quite clever!) The Dutch lady understood and pointed to a cheese and snack truck located not eveb a block away. Could cheese, salami, and a few strange crackers taste so good?? Then an hour later with cold hands and wind blown faces we happened upon an Asian-run coffee shop. Generally I don't drink coffee but a warm cup with a cookie was the perfect jolt to energize.
For me, it was another "God thing"- providing just what was needed at the right time! "My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Biking in Europe--The Netherlands-Day 3

Windmills are the iconic symbol of Hollland. We rode through a town which boasts 19 of them: Kinderdijk. Kinderdijk is the name of a town in the province of South-Holland. Two rivers, the ‘Noord’ and the ‘Lek’ come together here. Nowhere in the world can you find so many windmills together. The mills used to pump the overflow of water out of the Alblasserwaard polders (which are below sea level), into the river Lek. River the ‘Lek’ is connected to the North Sea. These windmills were constructed around 1740 and now are on UNESCO's world heritage list.

Besides the windmills sheep are everywhere. Loved observing the many varieties. Little did I realize they were all unique. I was often reminded of Psalm 23.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside the still waters,
He restores my soul.
He leads in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil,
You are with me.
Your rod and staff will comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil,
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever"

I am happy to be a sheep in the "herd" of Jesus, my shepherd!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Biking in Europe-The Netherlands-day 2


After Amsterdam's teeming crowds of people and noise on Saturday night the quiet of our early morning ride out of the city was extremely pleasant! We rode over dikes with views of grazing sheep, horses, ponies, dairy cows, swans and a seemingly manicured countryside. The dikes were not for bikes exclusively so we road around pedestrians, motorbikes, and even cars covering the entire width of the dike!
Along the route we feasted on a delicious traditional dish called poffertjes, small powdered sugar covered pancakes and fresh mint tea.
Along this day's route we boarded a ferry for a quiet, peaceful hour long ride through lovely little canals full of blooming lily pads and teaming with a wide assortment of wild life. It was a precious time to quietly reflect on God's amazing creation!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

European Bike vacation continues...The Netherlands


This city name, I know, carries with it a reputation of diry, sex-filled, drug infested streets. Yet after a day of sight-seeing mingling in with over 800,000 people whose average age had to be 25, we felt a pleasant "warmth" towards Amsterdam. We joined a small tour group riding on the 100+ canals and learned much of interest about the city; such as every resident owns an average of 3 bikes, (check out the photo of the biking garage), and it costs over 1/2 a million to own a small flat in the city!
During our canal tour we "cruised" through the infamous "red light" section of the city. I was saddened by the seeming pride the tour operator had in claiming this element of sex trade as an acceptable part of the city and a place he encouraged one to visit. Yet as I thought further on the reality of sin in everybody's life I realized we all have "red light districts" in our lives that we may refuse to clean up and accept by the grace of God and the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus we would be on our way to eternal separation from God. Praise the Lord He has cleaned up my "red light district"!
Cheese wheels, waffle treats, people watching, and biking the streets rounded out our visit to Amsterdam. On the road out of the city tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Biking in Europe-days 6 & 7 & 8

(Combining three days because of lack of Internet to "broadcast".) 
Day 6 could be titled Martin Luther!
During the sunshine-filled day we rode through the country side dotted with wild flowers, flying storks, and lush woodlands between Torgua and Wittenberg, our final destination, home of Martin Luther. It was a tiring 45+ mile day but worth the effort as we biked into such an historic city. Unfortunately the church, All Saints Church, where Martin Luther spent most of his time preaching, is under reconstruction, covered with scaffolding, and draped in canvas! I did get to view the actual black doors where he nailed his 95 thesis. After visiting Wittenburg and being reminded of Martin Luther's message of salvation by God's grace ALONE, (Ephesians), I am so grateful for his courage and willingness to sacrifice his "career", his earthly reputation, financial security, even nearly his life for the truth of the scriptures! Because of his preaching and his translation of the scriptures into the language "of the people" I can enjoy and be fed from God's Word daily by myself. Praise the Lord for speaking through Martin Luther to me!

Day 7 could be labeled RAIN, RAIN, AND RAIN!

What happened to the bike road? I don't know but aren't we having fun on this adventure?"

Day 8 was stamped Headwinds and Lost on the Trail!

We finally did end up in Halle, Germany, home of Handel and the birthplace of Marianna, who was riding with us. (She was a wonderful tour guide!)
We celebrated with delicious German food, beer, and of course sweets!

Hunter and I feel so blessed to be able to travel with friends and experience God's creation!
Psalms 103:2, 5
"Praise the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits...he satisfies my desires with good things."

The Biking in Europe continues next week in The Netherlands with friends from the states, so more blogging to come....