It was supposed to be a very easy day: the train from Osnabrück to Apeldoorn, then a short cycle ride across the Veluwe (with a detour to see what is left of the Radio Kootwijk transmitter station) to spend the night in Otterlo.
It didn’t work like that. The crowded German train stopped at Bad Bentheim for passengers to transfer to a Dutch train, which definitely wasn’t going anywhere for some time. Reluctant to embroil ourselves in the free-for-all that would ensue once things got moving again, we decided to cycle to another station and take our chances there. We bought a map in Bad Bentheim town (quite interesting to see it after years of waiting in its station while the locomotive is changed) and then headed towards Hengelo on a cycle path beside the main road. (Of course – this isn’t Britain.) We went first into Oldenzaal because (a) it was as far as our new map stretched, and (b) trains from there go to Zutphen, which would also be a good starting point for a ride across the Veluwe. At Oldenzaal we encountered passengers who had been waiting hours for a train. The announcement that the next Zutphen train was cancelled came thirty seconds before it was due to depart. Another dash beside a main road to Hengelo, where we caught a train to Apeldoorn with minutes to spare. Any thought that it had been rash of us to leave Bad Bentheim was knocked on the head by encountering a fellow passenger from the Osnabrück train on the Hengelo platform still waiting to continue his journey. The rail replacement bus was obviously no faster than our bicycles.
At Apeldoorn we set off cycling again – 4 hours later and rather less fresh than planned, but still intending to see Radio Kootwijk. It was built after the first world war to enable easy radio communication (rather than electric telegram communication, which required cables) with overseas territories like the Dutch East Indies. First there is a hamlet called Radio Kootwijk, built to house workers, and then comes the wonderful Building A, which dominates the defunct site now that all the masts have gone. Unlike Nauen’s brick transmitter building, built by Hermann Muthesius, (which I still regret not having been able to see), this is made of concrete and goes all-out for Egyptian-inspired art deco with a touch of the Amsterdam School quasi-grotesqueness. On the back of the building is what looks like a crucified eagle (radio waves take flight?), but the figures at the front are most striking: east and west are all ears, listening to what those radio waves are telling them.
Like the Nauen transmitter building (and the Villa Cavrois) there is a reflecting pool at the front, but sadly neither the sun’s direction nor the wind was favourable to the perfect stereotype photo today.