But first to the Centraal Station for fuel for the trip. Stubbe Haring, where I'm told the herring is so good, it's like sushi, with the consistency of butter.
What the Dutch have done is not only break the car culture, but reduce bikes to their basic function: a simple form of public transportation. This means - you're not gonna like this - slowing them down. Put these streets together with a rainy climate, and even if you're a delivery cyclist, you can only ride so fast before you run the serious risk of wiping out - I've seen it. Can you imagine New York City bike paths and streets like this? That would change everything!
Frankly, biking here - safe as it is - is kind of (to use a turn of phrase) pedestrian. It's not as exciting as New York. But it does work. And you don't fear for your life, which from a New Yorker's point of view is outstanding. As I write, we have already doubled the cyclist deaths from last year and the year is far from over.
The road to Haarlem has smooth pavement, so you see some road bikes out here.
Everyone rides here, both young and old.
The museum itself is exquisite, with paintings by many of his contemporaries, as well as artists he influenced - and paintings of course, by the man himself. It is exclusively by, and about white men, but putting that aside, the Dutch understood something about light that the rest of the world did not. They were the first, and their understanding of it remains as luminous and unique as ever. I am captivated.
But about 40 minutes in, anxiety begins to tug at me about the route back. It's not that I can't find the train station (I passed it on the way in), it's about whether I can find my bike. Um...where is it exactly? I've parked my bike in a couple of places since being here. I start back with quickening steps and look every place I can remember being. Was it here?
The question is, is it lost - or stolen? I feel a case of Tourista coming on...(did I mention that I'm an anxious traveler?) What if I can't find it? What if I can't find a bathroom? What if I never get back to my life?
I finally decide I'll just have to leave it. Take a train back the next day; if it's stolen I'll have to pay for it; if it gets confiscated, I'll try to locate it through the proper authorities. I'm never gonna find it this way; I've looked everywhere.
Just at that moment, I stumble into an area I have no recollection of ever visiting. And there it is (recognizable by the slightly smaller tires). Last time I will EVER park my bike without taking a photo of it.
Now I'm ready for the trip back.
It's Friday night in Amsterdam. The streets are crawling with tourists and reeking with pot.