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Things to See on a Bike in the Netherlands: Wall Art

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Drivers sometimes experience highway hypnosis.  That state of driving on autopilot and arriving at the destination without any memory of what you saw along the way.  Highway hypnosis is brought about by the monotony of driving along a boring road for an extended period of time.

I often finish a ride with little recollection of what was around me along the way.  But not because the ride was monotonous.  It is because the ride was fast.

The faster I ride the more I have to concentrate on the road just ahead of me.  Looking out for pot holes, gravel, sand, broken glass and other debris which could bring my ride to an abrupt halt.  If I am riding in a group my focus is even tighter; most of the time on the rider in front of me. Watching closely for sudden swerving or braking.  So I miss a lot of what is around me.

There is a web site called 18 Miles Per Hour, where “speed, calmness and observation all live together.”  The site is about seeing and absorbing the world around you while you ride.  Good reasons for going on slow rides once in a while.

I know I missed a lot of wall art the Netherlands.  Fortunately this wall was at the turn-around point in Alphen aan de Rijn.  I was going slow enough to notice it.

M.C. Escher is a very well-known Dutch graphic artist.  A number of his murals adorn buildings.  This three-dimensional mural, titled Fish and Birds, is on the Delfluent water treatment plant in Scheveningen.

The Escher in het Paleis museum is in Den Haag.  A large print of his Day and Night hangs over the entrance.

Look who I discovered living in Harmelen.

This mosaic is over the escalators that take pedestrians and cyclists in to and out of the south entrance of the Maastunnel in Rotterdam.  The tunnel is 585 meters / 1,920 feet long, and runs up to 20 meters / 66 feet below the river Nieuwe Maas.

The mosaic on the north side, visible in the following video, features mermen instead of mermaids.

Translated Lyrics
Two big copper dome roofs: north and south
Is where this tunnel sees them all go in and out
On the escalator cyclists stand oblique
They carry bags with lunch and start their working week

Back to you, under the river Maas
Back to you, your echo I can’t lose
Back to you, and endless corridor
Tiles up the wall, I long for more
Back to you

I just go on, for there is still no end in sight
I get back in time, by the 1940’s light
The escalators rattle on the other side
You – at the end of this long tunnel – end my ride


Closer to home is this mosaic on a wall of the sports center in Voorschoten.

The bike path to Rottermeren runs under the A12 highway and the train tracks near Moerkapelle.  The tunnels are tiled with patterns of flowers and birds.

This last piece was not on a wall but on the side of a truck.  It is however quite emblematic of the Netherlands, which is the center of production for the European floral market, as well as a major international supplier to other continents. More than Euro 5 billion worth of cut flowers are exported annually.

It certainly is worth slowing down to smell the flowers once in a while.