Sunday, April 08, 2007

3 Rhenoy-de Neust

The Linge at Rhenoy

Thursday, April 5--

Another mistake. Instead of waiting for a slightly later bus, the one we knew for sure would get us quickly from Leerdam, where we'd spent the night to Rhenoy, where we would resume our walk, we boarded one that stood ready at the bus stop. I asked the driver if he were going to Acquoy, I mean Rhenoy. Acquoy, yes, he said. No, I said, Rhenoy, Rrrhennnoy, trilling the "r" in my best Dutch manner. Rhenoy, yes, he said, Acquoy, Rhenoy.

We got on. The bus went to Asperen, and then on to Acquoy. Acquoy, the driver said, pointing down the road to Acquoy. Yes, I said, we were there yesterday, we go now to Rhenoy.

The driver negotiated a difficult turn to the right and headed off for parts unknown. Rhenoy, he said, I don't go to Rhenoy.

We all looked at one another and thought about this a few moments, as he headed back past Asperen again, farther and farther from Rhenoy, and then crossed the main road back to Leerdam, and showed no sign of stopping this side of -- oh, I don't know, Rotterdam perhaps.

A bus stop stood a bit ahead. Let us off here, I said, and he grudgingly did, though with a smile. Rhenoy, Acquoy, they're all the same, he said.

There you are, Therese pointed out, you can never be sure they understand you, your Dutch, his Dutch, neither one is native...

We'd been set down in a charming village, though, and didn't mind, or at least I didn't mind, walking up a lane to its center, then on through it, to find a footpath along a narrow canal under a line of stately elms; and we walked a kilometer or so up to a "kasteel," one of the many fine manor-houses surrounded by small moats, tall elms and beeches, and often enough a nice side-garden or two; and then we turned a corner and walked back into Asperen, another kilometer or two, and caught the right bus this time, another "buurtbus" that cost us exactly nothing because of the improbable publicity campaign currently on, and resumed our walk an hour late.

This leg of our Lingepad walk, exactly eleven kilometers, took us along three sweeping oxbows of the river Linge. We crossed it immediately and then turned into a tiny village, perhaps four houses, one with an amazing topiary out front, a life-size donkey standing on a large, thick platform balanced above a slightly smaller disc itself perched on a sort of cone, all carved out of yew. We met a farm-wife and a neighboring farmer and had a short conversation with them about the cafe that was supposed to be nearby, according to the map, but which had closed two years ago. I have coffee in my house, the man on the bicycle said; No, thanks, we'll wait, we're having lunch at the Twee Gezellen. Oh, I don't think it's open yet, she said. Oh yes, I said, I telephoned. For once, something was going to turn out right.

We lazed along the Molendijk, past the Huis te Rumpt, swinging back toward the Linge past the first oxbow; and there was the town of Rumpt, and De Twee Gezellen.

I must say we had a wonderful lunch. Turbot for Lindsey, lamb for me (again!); a delicious soup; a fine salad; a bottle of good French Sauvignon Blanc, another of good French red (Minervois) -- after all, there are four of us, and lunch took three and a half hours, in a quiet, comfortable, light-filled room under a sparkling white enamelled coffered ceiling in an old house overlooking the Linge.

And then on through the little town of Beesd, where we bought supplies for the night, knowing there was no restaurant near our lodgings: rolls, fruit, a slab of nagelkaas at a very impressive cheese shop.

And then we set out into the country again, on a dike-road overlooking the next oxbow, with on our left a huge estate, part orchard, part pasture, a fair amount of forest; and then onto the Appeldijk, so called because its road is flanked on each side by a double row of ancient apple trees.

And then, finally, we turned into a driveway leading to a farmstead, with a fine house attached to a long stable-barn which has been completely renovated with a series of comfortable bedrooms -- perhaps half a dozen in all -- and an enormous sitting room with groups of couches, tables, and armchairs, a fine multilingual bookcase, and a kitchen and breakfast area.

The keys were waiting for us, with a note apologizing for the written reception. Make yourselves at home; there's beer, wine, genever, tea, coffee. Breakfast at eight. So we sat, and ate our cheese and rolls, and had a beer, and admired the accomodations, and turned in early. The second day of walking is the hardest; the muscles really begin to complain; they realize this is serious and they have to adjust to it.

And we slept very soundly indeed.

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