The Humiliating Ride

We planned to take our two oldest grandchildren to the Netherlands.  We envisioned them delighted to be in a truly beautiful country, enjoying the arts, the food, the biking.

The highpoint of the trip was to be a 2-day round trip bike ride from Amsterdam to Edam through low country.

So, you wonder, what could go wrong?

When we arrived in Amsterdam, we headed to a nearby bike rental shop.  The bike guy took a look at grandson Luke’s height and sighed.  Then he disappeared into the back and wheeled out a small bike emblazoned with “Girl Power” printed on the down tube.  This was the only bike they had in his size.  Luke made it quite clear:  he would neverride that bike.

We walked to another bike shop.  All of their bikes were bright red with their logos prominently displayed.  We tried out bikes and adjustments were made. They had a helmet for our granddaughter, Ainsley.  Luke had brought his own helmet from home.   Ready to go?  We could tell the grandchild weren’t happy. They told us that riding rental bikes marked them as “outsiders” and wearing helmets (when no one in Amsterdam wore one) was “totally humiliating.”

It didn’t help our grandchildren that they had to bike with us.   They questioned the rules of the road.  It didn’t help that, after we started biking, we stopped often to check the map to be sure that we were still on the bike path we needed to be on.  Every call out from us to “stay on the right” and every stop for map work added to their humiliation as obvious tourists, the ultimate outsiders. What could be worse than being pegged as “tourists?”

Finally we had ridden to the outskirts of Amsterdam.  Ainsley ditched the helmet – but only for the photo.

As soon as we got into the countryside, the scenery was so beautiful that we (Beth & Joe) wanted to stop often for photos, but gave the kids (Ainsley & Luke) a break and for the most part kept moving.

We arrived at our hotel in Edam in the late afternoon to everyone’s joy.  Our hotel dinner that night was delicious, but the hotel’s pace was slow.  The kids held up admirably well during the 3-hr dinner.

We were entertained by Eve Loiseau who sang songs as Edith Piaf.

We had to wake the exhausted kids mid-morning so we wouldn’t miss breakfast at Hotel la Fortuna.  They were in a deep sleep.

They were groggy, grumpy, and tired all morning. Their preference was to get on the bikes to head directly back to Amsterdam after breakfast.  “What?!  Not see Edam after all of our effort to get here?” we pleaded.

We led them down the street to a cheese factory shop, and the expressions on their face showed their enthusiasm.

We walked just long enough to see a bit of the scenic town, and then we all got on our bikes and headed back.

The kids breathed a sigh of relief when we pulled into the Amsterdam bike store a few hours later.  They dismounted, happily took off their helmets, and never looked back as they walked away.

As for us, we never could have imagined that a scenic bike ride would turn into such a humiliating experience for the grandchildren.  We had a lot to learn about what makes an 11 year old happy.


June 2018

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
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11 Responses to The Humiliating Ride

  1. Joel says:

    A lovely post describing the Rashomon-ness (to coin a word) not only of travel but of life. I also enjoyed the photo of them scowling in front of the wheels of cheese as well as the photos of the lovely scenery.

  2. The effects of the generational gap!

  3. Oh how I laughed at this post Beth and Joe, and your photo of the kids in the cheese shop had me howling! I think any parent can relate to this experience that you’ve captured so well and your title is perfect! I guess an idyllic bike ride through Holland isn’t for everyone, huh? Anita

  4. Reading this for a second time, just for an extra dose of laughs. Sorry to get such a kick out of your less-than-stellar trip, but you have just made a hilarious memory for your treasured grandkids. So much fun to read, I’ll probably go back and enjoy it once more 🙂

    • We’re delighted that you’re enjoying this all. We have to admit that part way through the bike trip – as teeth were clenched and we were trying to smile – the though did occur that at least it would make a good blog post!

  5. Perhaps you should bring them to Australia next time. Here wearing a bike helmet is a legal requirement so they won’t feel like they stand out so much. Everyone has to wear one. They sure do look grumpy in Edam. 🙂

  6. plaidcamper says:

    Well, you tried, and it looked a fine idea – biking in Holland? Perfect!

  7. leggypeggy says:

    Love the pic of the two grumps outside the cheese factory. Glad you’re looking happy anyway.

  8. Annette Davey says:

    I as a Nana of 2 teenagers can appreciate this so much. Haven’t to this day had that wonderful comedy experience. You will have a story to share for many years. Thanks for the great read. Love your stories. x

  9. Thank you for tear full laughter.

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