Home > Blogs > Robert Study Abroad, Spring 2007 > 29 January 2011 - Time to travel like the dutch...on a bike

29 January 2011 - Time to travel like the dutch...on a bike

Posted by admin on January 29, 2007

My quest for a bicycle continued today, taking me through 5 miles of Delft's city streets. A friend told me about a place called "Recycle Delft" where he was able to get a bike for 95 Euros and his roommate found one for 35 Euros. Peter described the location in his email, but the directions were a little vague (understandable, since he was here 2 years ago), so I looked up Recycle Delft on Google Maps. The Google Maps location didn't match what Peter was describing, so I marked my map to match Google (thinking that perhaps the place had moved/assuming Google was correct and up to date) and headed up towards the train station.

As I walked by Google's location it became apparent that Google was off the mark. Nothing but private residences lined this narrow street. I explored the side streets and even went to the train station (only a couple blocks away) to ask for directions there. No luck. I did, however, get to see the ticket agent reprimand a German woman for using her cell phone while purchasing tickets. While most Americans consider this multi-tasking to be rude, it is common between teenagers and generally allowed in other situations in America. Nobody says anything in America because most employees are afraid to contradict a customer. I really liked seeing an employee who wasn't afraid of making the customer mad.

Everyone I asked had no idea where Recycle Delft was. I decided to head back to Poptahof and check Peter's email again and do another internet search. Peter's directions appeared to be accurate, as the church he mentions as a landmark is exactly where he said it would be. I searched the Delft phone directory online and found the correct address for Recycle Delft. This location was right were Peter said it would be.

Since it was only 15:30 I headed back to look again. I found the location, but the building was empty and there was a sign in the window saying that it had closed. I pulled out a piece of paper to copy down the new address to search online for it, and just as I got done I hear someone yelling at me. This older gentleman wasn't actually yelling, I guess, but he spoke with an extremely loud voice (lacking that "yelling" vibe, though). I asked him to speak in English, but he kept right on rambling in Dutch. Luckily a younger gentleman was just about to enter his apartment complex and this younger guy was called over by the older fellow.

These two chatted in Dutch (the older man still broadcasting louder than a politician) and then the younger explained to me that this older man knew where I could purchase a bike. I handed over my map and this guy marked the location for me. It turns out that Mitch and I walked by there on Friday afternoon.

The older gentleman disappeared and the younger one pointed me on my way and continued on to his apartment. I traveled over to Rotterdamseweg (street name) to find this bike retailer. The address happens to be in a court just off of Rotterdamseweg. The house numbers in the court are in line with those on Rotterdamseweg, but since they aren't on the main street there was no way Mitch or I would have seen the bikes on Friday.

I walked into the court expecting to find a bike store/shop. Instead I only saw residential buildings. I rang the doorbell and hoped that whoever answered would speak English. The gentleman who answered appeared to be in the same generation as the one earlier in the day who spoke loud Dutch. My hopes were sinking. He greeted me in English, though, and showed me the two bikes he had available to sell. There were another 10 or so that he will eventually sell, but first he must check them over mechanically.

Both bikes available for sale appeared to be in good condition. There was a blue bike with a heavy-duty, homemade-looking racks (front and back). The other was a black step-through (the top bar of the frame comes down, similar to what we consider a "woman's bike" in America) with a normal rear frame. The step-through design is very popular here in Delft and both men and women ride them. The top bar comes down much farther than an American woman's bike; it's never more than six inches away from the bottom bar. I test-rode this black one and it rode beautifully. My only concern is the mustache handlebars since I've never been a big fan of them. They aren't too conducive or friendly to my long arms. The bike was no problem to control and ride, though. And the price (which was identical to the blue bike) was much better than anything Mitch and I found on Friday: 75 Euros. The gentleman mentioned that he sometimes sells bikes for 45 - 50 Euros, and I asked what makes the price difference. His answer was simple: tires. If all he does is fix the bike it usually sells for 50 Euros. If he replaces the tires he charges 75.

Peter told me that he only received about 20 Euros for his bike two years ago, and another ISU student who studied here compared bikes to textbooks: over-priced to buy and under-priced to sell. I bought the black bike (I'll eventually get a picture up here) and because of it's excellent, solid condition I should get a decent resale value out of it after six months.

Having spent enough money for the day ("enough" being defined as "any money at all") I headed back to Poptahof. Cooking dinner required the extensive use of AltaVista's BabelFish translator. Mitch and I had a Dutch version of Skillet Sensations and all the directions were in Dutch. The food turned out excellent and we're starting to pick up more of the Dutch language with every meal. Perhaps by the end of the trip we will be able to make a meal-in-a-box and not have to translate!

Song of the Day: Welcome to the Jungle - Guns 'n Roses (in honor of being thrust into the Dutch language by the older gentleman earlier today)