Pedal pushers

We always read with interest the letters in ITN about bicycle tours, since we have found it such a refreshing way to travel.

In spring 2004 we took our seventh trip with Hindriks European Bicycle Tours (Huntington Beach, CA; phone 800/852-3258 or visit We have enjoyed every one of them. (See Feb. ’05, page 38.)

Here are some examples of treasures we have found while cycling:

• Riding along the dikes in Holland and passing within three feet of a heron in the process of swallowing a frog, the rear legs still sticking out of its mouth.

• Stopping at a snack stand in Hungary where we expected, at best, to get an ice cream cone or a piece of fruit. The owners convinced us we should try a typical Hungarian dessert which they could make for us. We didn’t realize this was going to take 45 minutes and be served by a 12-year-old boy wearing a tuxedo, but the dish was so spectacular that we had to take photos before we could eat it.

• Finding ourselves in a Czech village which was celebrating its 800th anniversary — with a pig being roasted in the main town square, children dressed in traditional costumes, all sorts of food and handcrafts for sale and Credence Clearwater Revival playing on the public-address system.

• Coming up over a rise in the south of England and seeing Stonehenge on the plains in front of us. (We had previously visited Stonehenge by car, but it didn’t provide this same emotion.)

• Arriving in a small Dutch town which was celebrating the Queen’s birthday by having a children’s “garage sale” in the main town square. Children were selling toys which they had outgrown as well as home decorations which we questioned whether their parents knew were up for sale. They were also playing musical instruments for the entertainment of all.

• Pedaling into a town in the Cotswolds on a Sunday afternoon and stretching out on the grass with the locals to enjoy a local band giving a concert.

• Stopping in an Austrian town to enjoy the wonderful pastries. (Of course, any traveler can do this, but you can justify it more easily when riding a bike.)

• Traveling directly alongside the Danube with all its beautiful scenery.

• Taking dozens of photos of stork nests in the Eastern European countries in order to catch that one where a bird was just taking off.

• Trying to dance flamenco with the locals in the south of Spain.

Biking gets you close to the people and close to the land, which is what travel should be all about.

Boulder, CO