The Four Seasons of the Kralingse Bos

No matter what the weather brings, the Kralingse Bos is a beautiful place for a walk just outside of the city. Easily reachable by car, cycling, walking or a nearby tram. This post is to share photos of the four seasons from my experience.

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Living In The Land Of The Tall

One thing that I have to got used to, since I’m just the average height, is that I am constantly looking up to the tallest people in the world, even my partner is reaching 198cm. A research completed in 2014 showed that the Netherlands were 1st with the tallest men in the world, with the average of 183cm. As well as coming 2nd with the tallest women in the world.

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Cycling Not Just For Transport

Now that I have lived here for 6 years I feel like I am allowed to turn into a road bike fanatic. The Netherlands is a great place for road biking due to the safe bike paths and the lack of hills. After stalking many Marktplaats sellers (Dutch version of Ebay) I was lucky to find one that was the right size and price range. So it’s now official! I have bought my first ever road bike, in a new-ish condition all shiny and red.

Learning all aspects of cycling on a road bike sure is a learning curve, such as what all the different components are as well as the ‘do’s and dont’s‘. A Dutch book that I still need to read is ‘Vrouw & Fiets’ written by Nynke de Jong and Marijn de Vries, which has been recommended to me by at least 3 people this week.

As well as buying the bike this week, I bought some gloves and cycling glasses at the Decathlon and researched into what size clip-in shoes I needed. I also scored a new helmet via Marktplaats and ordered some sexy cushion-padded shorts to protect my butt and a cycling shirt with pockets at the back.

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For my first route I decided to take it easy, cycling only 11km around the Kralingse Bos park in Rotterdam. Within 10 minutes I felt so hungry and realised the unhealthy lunch probably wasn’t the best idea before some fitness. As a gym junkie that I am (minimum 3 days a week at the gym + home workouts sessions) I should of known better! However overall happy that my average speed was faster than my city bike as well as being able to pratice the gear changing and the overall feel of the bike. P.S I didn’t have my ordered cushion-padded shorts in time for this route either so it was a bumpy experience!

I’ve started using the app Strava, perfect for tracking your route with GPS. Gives you information about your speed, elevation, estimated calories and more importantly the time and distance. What I also love is once you do the same route more than once, you can challenge yourself to beat your old time and make some personal bests!

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For my second route this week it was right after fuelling up with some pasta, also prepared with my cushion-padded shorts and the correct gear. The plan was to do another small route for practicing, but with a beautiful sun setting it was too good to end it to quickly. I cycled with my partner exactly 32km, and even at the end I felt like I could of gone further but it was dark and we had no lights!

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For my third and last route this week, we decided to travel to the De Biesbosch National Park. Based on the western wind, we cycled all the way there with the wind. The plan was to do a few laps around the national park but I was rather tired once we reached 60km, and knew I still had to cycle atleast 10km back towards to the boat to take me back to Rotterdam. We stopped at the De Brabantse Biesbosch for a delicious pancake and a cola, as my partner needed some energy as he cycled all the way back!

But WOW, so proud that within a week I managed to do a long trip of 67km in one go! A lot faster than I ever imagined too within only 3 hours!

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The total this week I cycled is 116km (including a short 10km I forgot to record). I couldn’t of done it without those padded shorts thats for sure!

I still need lots of practice until I can call myself a real road bike fanatic, but I’m making a good start!

My wish list of things to get (and need) to feel like a complete road bike user:

  • New matching water bottles and holders
  • A bell
  • Clip-in SPD Shoes
  • Spare inside tyres
  • A multitool kit
  • A bike computer/sensor to measure and see my speed, distance and time
  • (and whatever else I need that I don’t know about yet!)

Any tips & tricks, related books or apps, or even decent shops or websites to buy gear would all be appreciated!!

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The Dutch Korps Mariniers

Since living in the Netherlands, I have often seen the mariniers training throughout the city of Rotterdam. Training and hiking with their 40+kg backpacks or at the local swimming pool in all their gear. The Van Ghentkazerne Military Base is in Rotterdam near my previous school too.

The Korps Mariniers are the Dutch amphibious infantry component of the Royal Netherlands Navy, who can be deployed anywhere within the world within 48 hours in all circumstances.

Their motto is Qua Patet Orbis (“As Far As The World Extends”)

Their final week of training is the hardest, with no sleep hiking up to 125km a day, abseiling down the Van Brienenoordbrug bridge, peddling with a boat down to Zealand for different scenario trainings and also climbing up and abseiling from the Hef bridge. Unfortunately it was pretty much raining their final week too!

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Source: Defensie Magazine
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Source: Ad.nl
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Source: Ad.nl

On Friday July 14th I watched the ceremony at the Schouwburgplein, where they exchanged their training beret for the official Mariniers dark blue beret. It was pretty interesting to hear what they had gone through since February 6th, and how their final week went. They arrived at 12pm just as the rain got worse, carrying all their gear and weapon.

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DSC_4275The ceremony wasn’t too long before they were done, wearing the new beret and greeted by loved ones to celebrate. It was great to see the final ceremony in Rotterdam, even with the rain.