Day 1-1. Nieuweschans to Krummhörn-Upleward (Camping am Deich).
Distance D 87.41 km Max 31.0 km/h Time 5.37:08 Average 15.5 km/h
Distance S 87.59 km Max 35.5 km/h Time 5.26.32 Average 16.1 km/h
Today was the first day of our summer holiday. Although it was a holiday, this morning started early as we'd decided to get up an hour earlier than we'd been planning. We were going to take the first train of the morning to Groningen instead of a later one. This would allow us to start cycling an hour earlier at around nine in the morning instead of around ten. Getting ahead, from day one of our tour, seemed like a great idea. Thus we'd dragged ourselves out of bed extra early, finished our packing and left for Utrecht Central with plenty of time in hand.
We started our day by taking the intercity up to Groningen where we had to change on a small local train up to Nieuweschans. The intercity left five minutes late and proceeded to lose more time as we headed north. The conductor, initially quite chatty, became more and more recticent as he passed on the information that it looked like we'd get to Groningen later than expected as we were not making up the time already lost. We tried to sleep as the train rumbled through the polders and finally realised that we were unlikely to make the connection. We arrived in Groningen, jumped off the train, hopefully, hooked our Ortliebs on our bikes, and ran down the platform. We watched the doors of our train to Nieuweschans close just as we reached it. Dutch train conducters have no mercy once the doors are shut.
Bang went half of our extra hour of cycling.
It would appear that Williams & Jongkind's 1st Law of Cycle Touring had not been repealed since our last tour in 2008.
Stan was rather grumpy. After a year of things not going well, this did not seem like a good way to start the holiday. His master plan to get started an hour earlier lay in tatters; what would be the next thing to go wrong? Damae was being rather more philosophical this morning, after all, during a trip lasting forty days, what difference would half an hour make? Her patience is something that stands her in good stead every now and again. Damae headed off to post some letters and get some cups of milky coffee. The coffee went down remarkably well considering it was the usual Dutch train station cafe-latte. It's amazing what three sugars, well stirred, can do for even the most unpalatable beverage. Fifteen minutes later the next train to Nieuweschans arrived and we boarded it. A few minutes later the train left and ran up through the some of the flattest parts of the Netherlands under a low grey sky.
The bright red Arriva train arrived in Nieuweschans just after half past nine and not surprisingly we got off. We'd been to Nieuweschans before, once in 2007 when we cycled the last bit of the NSCR in Holland that we'd missed in the spring of that year. Today, in contrast to our last visit, the sky was a 'not too promising grey'. On the plus side, it wasn't raining and there was little wind to impede our progress, to the contrary it seemed like the wind was favourable.
We cycled away from the train station and, on the edge of town, managed to miss the turning that would take us onto the NSCR. We carried on East towards the border with Germany and after consulting our maps turned left down a long straight road. Just before the road turned sharp left we found a flock of signs and started following the Dollart Route, on a not very smooth brick-pave path. This took us first through the flat German landscape that looked very similar to the Dutch landscape across the border. We followed the railway line, past signposts dripping with signs, towards Bunde.