Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cyclist friendly accommodation in the Netherlands

We are beavering away trying to get our updated, revamped Rhine 2 Cyclists' guide from Basel to Hook of Holland finished. For various reasons it is unlikely that we will be able to cycle from the German-Dutch border by Emmerich to Hook of Holland to check the route this year, unless global warming means that November is very warm and lack of global warming means the month is gale free. What we have decided to do is to prepare the book by working out a route using the knooppunt system. Dutch cycling facilities are so good that we don't need to go there to check the route.
We still need accommodation lists and were pleased to find the Fietsers Welkom! website published by Fietsplatform (Dutch cycling platform). This is an  “umbrella-organisation” (public-private partnership, foundation)bringing together the Dutch tourist’ union ‘ANWB’, the Dutch cyclist’ union ‘Fietsersbond’, the Union for cycle-touring clubs ‘NTFU’ and the national organisation for the cycling industry in the Netherlands ‘RAI’. With the support of the national and regional authorities Fietsplatform tries to improve the facilities for recreational cycling/ cycle tourism in the Netherlands.
The Fietsers Welkom! website is very similar to the German Bett und Bike website published by the ADFC and the Luxembourg bed + bike website published by the LVI. Landlords agree to the following conditions:
  • Open from May / September, at least five days a week from 11:00.
  • Campsites set aside an area for cycle tourists.
  • Hotels, B&Bs and campsites accept guests for one night.
  • The hotels, B&Bs offer a locked bicycle garage.
  • Simple tools and puncture repair outfits are available, as is obviously, a first aid kit.
  • Cyclists can refill their water bottle for free.
  • Bike maps are available for inspection and/or on sale.
  • Batteries of electric bikes can be recharged for free.
  • Wet clothing is no problem. The hotels,  etc. offer a dryer or drying rack.
On first inspection the Fietsers Welkom! website is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It offers a searchable map of the Netherlands with accommodation, knooppunt and the Dutch long distance cycle routes. It is in Dutch, but it is obvious how you use it, just go to 'Kaart'.
I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but the search engine could do with tightening up. It is possible to search an area by entering its name, but if the name of the place you are looking for, comes in the title of the accommodation or in the address, one is overwhelmed by a flood of several hundred addresses, most of which are false. Try looking for "Hoek van Holland", for example. One finds 860 addresses. Cut the search item back to "Hoek" and you still find 60 addresses. If I remember rightly "hoek" means "corner" in Dutch. In such cases you will need to look on the map and click on the hotel or campsite symbols. You can zoom in and out of the map. It would be a good if there was a scale on the map to estimate distances.
If you are touring in the Netherlands you can download an App from iTunes for €2.69 both for navigation and finding accommodation. I haven't tested this because we don't have an iPhone. 

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