Tag Archives: Amsterdam

When it’s spring again……

When it’s spring again we’ll sing again……tulips from Amsterdam

Hoping for the best to Eastermeer: 10th May – day 5

I think this one was a Max Bygraves special?
Today was a traveling day, we left the Op Hoop Van Zagan to other campers ‘Hoping for the Best’ – don’t get me wrong there was nothing wrong with the campsite, in fact a very convenient stop over for those wishing to visit the Keukenhof gardens or take a train into Amsterdam. The site was clean, well run but for us just a little crowded. After the aires of France and the small CL sites (5 vans) in the UK they don’t half pack ‘em in over here. I believe the Dutch are a great camping nation so I guess that is the norm over here – we have yet to find out as this was our first time in The Netherlands (and only our second time abroad with Hilma so what do we know). If you were to use this as a base then the train from Voorhuit (about a 35min bike ride from the campsite) takes about an hour with one change to get into Amsterdam.
Today we ventured into the north of Holland over the Afsluidijk a 30km dike built across the Waddenzee between 1927 and 1932 to keep the Dutch clogs dry.

Afsluitdijk a 30 km dike across the Waddenzee

From there we were inbound towards Leeuwarden and our first Dutch aire at Eastermeer, a beautiful little harbour we found in the Vicarious ‘All the Aires’ series. Not quite the French ‘free’ style aires at €10 but was certainly a very pleasant place to stay N53°10.538’ E006°03.307’.

Eastermeer – a lovely harbour aire – De Lits (camera shy Hilma hiding behind the trees)

The journey took us a little longer than expected and we were last on site, we counted 13 motorhomes in all, we parked next to a lovely old Hymer which made Hilma feel very young again.

Hilma and her ‘older’ friend

The reward at the end of the day for the driver

Eastermeer to Ommen : 11th May – day 6
Another travel day – we upped sticks and continued our journey heading south. When we initially booked the holiday we did not realise that around this time there were some school holidays so I was a bit nervous of not finding anywhere to stay over the coming weekend and so on the Tuesday after our arrival I booked online a 3 nighter in a Caravan Club approved site between Ommen and Zwolle. The drive this time was much more relaxing – we are getting to grips with planning a route and marking key junctions on the map. I think we would get terribly lost if not! We drove through some very pretty villages, we have noticed that there are very few white lines in the middle of the roads which makes you respect everybody’s space. None of this “this is my lane and your having none of it” UK type of thinking, drivers are generally very good over here.

A Hilma without an engine


We eventually found our destination and this time there is plenty of space at ‘Resort De Arendshout’ – we were welcomed by Michael who spoke excellent English (most of the Dutch do putting us to shame). The site is on the banks of the Vecht and is very popular with fishermen.
After settling Hilma into her spot Janette decide to wash some smalls and t shirts with which for drying we surrounded Hilma – she was not impressed!

The shame of it!


We are putting our feet down here for 3 nights and then moving on again. Looking forward to some nice cycling again (flat, flat, flat 😊).

I saw a mouse……………

I saw a mouse, where? There on the stairs, right there…

Off to the beach: 8th May
Another of those ‘old classics’ from the Ed Stewpot era kept creeping into my head every time I passed a windmill – and no, I haven’t taken the classic tourist photo of one yet.

Our original plan for today was to go to Amsterdam, but to be honest after the Keukenhof gardens yesterday we decided to have an easy day. As we are only 2.5kms (1.5 miles in old money) we deicide it would be a good idea to cycle to the beach (us and a thousand or two of other people as well). Still we weren’t to meet them until we arrived at the beach, a quick look at the ‘sardines in a tin brigade’ and we promptly turned around and headed for a beach hut type café for a coffee and plan B (which we hadn’t figured out yet).

On our way to the beach


A word on cycling in Holland – despite the excellent paths and marked junctions it can still be a bit of a hit and miss affair who has right of way sometimes. The Dutch are so adept at swiftly picking their line and damn everyone else you soon get used to getting out of their way and as your confidence increases – you try the same. Mistake – we do not have Dutch bikes – so the car drivers, scooter riders, pedestrians and any other road user instantly know we are ‘Johnny Foreigner’ and dismiss our attempts at boldness with a sniff and a tut, tut. There is a network of numbered junctions all over Holland so route finding is easy – get to any junction with a number on, look at the board and decide which number to go to next – easy, and if you get lost re-trace to the last numbered junction (yes, we did that a few times!).
After turning our backs on the beach we headed back towards Noordwijk aan Zee expecting nothing more than a mini seaside town just like in the UK. We were not far wrong – a promenade, hotels, ice cream parlour’s cafés, bars and souvenir shops – however, here in Holland the seaside town was clean. Please no e-mails about how wrong I am, I know there are clean UK seaside towns but I have to say the cleanliness here does make an impression. It was another hot day 23°C, so an ice cream was in order (I think I’ve managed one every day so far).

To save time getting to Voorhuit station in the morning to get to catch a train to Amsterdam I decided to do a cycling reccy to the station. Got a little lost but followed my nose and got there eventually, bought tickets for tomorrow’s journey – messed up at the ticket machine and bought a ticket I shouldn’t have – pocket was €16 lighter!

Voorhuit Station cycle park


Amsterdam: 9th May
Armed with 3 tickets (instead of 2) off we cycled to the Station to catch the 9:16am train to Amsterdam, somewhere I have always wanted to visit to see the architecture. Upon arrival I was once again foiled by the automatic ticket readers, I let Janette through on my ticket which meant I was stuck behind the barrier until she came back and let me out with her ticket. She could have just left me there and gone on her own – but I had the map, ha! I sometimes think it’s a miracle I can type this and upload it to t’internet given my propensity to mess up simple things like ticket machines purchases sometimes – my excuse – I don’t live in London.

Amsterdam Panorama

Colourful Amsterdam bike


As soon as we were out of the station we were ‘lured’ by the touristy canal boat trip – and glad we were too. An hour’s trip seeing some of the wonderful bridges, architecture and old houses of the rich Amsterdam merchants of the 17th century was well worth the ticket price. We had done some homework on what we wanted to do and although we do want to do a couple of Museums, we will do them later as we are passing by again after going up North. The walk devised took us past some of the oldest buildings and architecturally pleasing in the city – I would recommend a €4 map from the station – another purchase well worth it.

Typical Amsterdam canal scene

House boat – snapshot of canal life – Amsterdam


A spot of lunch on a Hansel & Gretel’s café balcony with half a carafe of Rosé, people watching, amazed how many accident’s didn’t happen – Japanese tourists standing in the middle of a major cycle junction taking the obligatory 1001 photographs, moped riders swerving around skateboarders, skateboarders swerving around pedestrians and large cars trying their best to be small at a very small junction – people watching at it’s best. Another ice cream and then a hot walk back to the station with 2 mins to spare before the train left.
A wonderful day out and a long-term wish achieved.

Leaning houses – Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s nightwatchmen

Another one for the ‘door project’

Tiptoe through the Tulips……….

Tiptoe through the tulips……………

Netherlands: 6th May
Some of you may recall that infamous song made famous by Tiny Tim (6’ 2”) in 1968 – for those hipsters reading this…. What the hell is he talking about …. Google it!
Off we go again in Hilma – last time we were out it was -3°C and 6 inches deep in snow. Now temperatures were soaring to +23°C. We have never been out in Hilma when it has been so hot – lovely. Overnight ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland meant we had some sleep before the very long journey the next day, all of……. 34 miles. Nothing seems too far in Holland, except that is the N206 road, which we decided we liked so much we thought we would go up and down it a few times just to make sure we liked it. Having eventually found the Op Hoop Van Zegen (‘Hoping for the Best’) – all ‘hope’ had been extinguished by that damn road. Anyway, less of my moaning – we arrived.
Not really our cup of tea after the delights of wild camping in Scotland and the free Aires in France but in my inevitable way of wanting ‘something to be organised’ (at least for the first 4 nights) it would do. The afternoon saw us cycle into Noordwijkerhout for provisions (a shiver ran down my spine as I thought we might have to cross the N206, but fortunately the Netherlands is blessed with cycle paths which steered us away from the dreaded road. A few cheap beers and tonic for the Tanqueray Gin off the ferry we were all set (oh yes, we did buy some salad and veg).
Deep sleep beckoned us that night – we were both knackered – nightmares of the N206 haunted me but not bad enough to wake me.

Kuekenhof: 7th May
Today we are off to some famous gardens – the name reminds me of that wonderful cake we found in the Alsace .We decided to cycle there as the information sheet picked up from the ‘Hoping for the Best’ office said it was 25 mins. We decided the Dutch cycle very fast – and yes, we did get lost again despite having all the appropriate cycle maps – ‘Hoping for the Best’s’ advisory 25 mins turned into 50 mins. But we were not disappointed – as soon as you walk in you are immediately hit with a riot of colour, although not in an obscene way. Some were strong and vibrant while others were soft and subtle and all made up from just tulips.

Creamy Delight – no, that’s not the name of the tulip!

Almost unreal

I say ‘just tulips’, these were the very flowers that brought many of Amsterdam’s businessmen to their knees in the 17th Century with Tulip Mania. A single bulb in the 1600’s could cost as much as a Porsche (or 300,000 bulbs) in today’s money – madness – all driven by greed. And yes, the market did crash, it always does.

Sometimes the softer tones shine through

Tiptoe through the…….

Pretty in Pink

Coffee, apple pie, mango & banana smoothie, chips and mayonnaise and ice cream kept us on the go as we wandered through the layers of visual delight. I have always thought the tulip a bit of a one hit wonder and not really appreciated it, I think when you see one or two poking their heads up in someone’s pot or border they really are quite unremarkable. When you see them at the Keukenhoff you see them in a different light altogether – and what light that is, dappled shade interspersed with the occasional burst of sunlight really does bring a new dimension in how to show off these (I now think amazing) flowers. It can take a grower 25 years to get the perfect specimen, me, I’ll just go and buy some. Well worth a visit if you are in the area, but I believe it closes mid-May as of course most of the flowers are over by then.

A muted palette is a real contrast to much of what is seen at Kuekenhof

This almost looks cheesy but believe me the colours are real