So as I come to the end of my Holland adventure, I get to recap on a wonderful last few days here.
My next stop was Gouda for the cheese market I had read about. About an hours drive including a ferry across the river en route, I was such a tourist, taking pics of my camper on the ferry boat!
Well what can I say, you must visit Gouda on a Thursday morning if you get the chance. Its bustling with people from all over the world, music is playing from a phonograph (I think), traders are selling in the markets everything from clothing, to kitchen utensils, cheeses to die for and there’s cheese everywhere. I am a cheese lover so I was in complete heaven. Only marred by a poor bloke who had an epileptic attack right beside me and fell splitting his head open. Last time I saw an emergency I just stared, useless, all my first aid knowledge deserted me, at least I was less ‘rabbit in a head light’ this time and helped his wife and a paramedic came over too, and took over. Ambulance called and everything.
Anyway so as I said, if you are travelling to Holland, go to Gouda. The motorhome stop I camped in, well that’s an experience. My first non campsite stop, and I had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a bit of a game getting a power supply as there more parking spaces than electricity points, you have to wait for someone to leave, and the facilities are one of those street toilets that the door rolls open and closed and I always worry will just open whilst sat on the loo. Pretty gross, although I kept telling myself much better than Nepal, it had a seat (not that I sat on it), and a flush, and some pets to keep you company, mosquitos by the dozen! Not all that bad as during the day the library was open and that has lovely facilities, and is just next to the camp site. All in all, great 24 hours in Gouda, and my motorhome neighbours chatted to me as they have a dog too. I met them bizarrely when I was having a snooze in the camper, Zac by my feet and when I opened my eyes these Dutch children were stroking Zac, bit surreal but all friendly hey! No English buddies yet, all Dutch but they are so friendly.
Next stop the windmills of Kinderdijk. It is a must see. I parked in the village as it was free, and walked the five minutes to the entrance. Its free to walk around the grounds. If you don’t know what they are, its 19 windmills all along the river. Built originally to help regulate the water levels. It is an awesome sight, so many beautiful buildings all together. There were kids swimming in the river, Zac got his first Dutch swim as he could get in and out easily. Families having picnics, bikes as usual being ridden up and down. Such a lovely atmosphere. If you don’t have the issue of a dog then you can pay to go into the two working windmills, or get a boat ride up the canals.
What an amazing few days. So heading up to the west coast where there is 4 mile dog beach in Noordwijk. Wrong time of year for the tulips in Lisse just down the rod which is a shame. The campsite was a tad expensive, £25 but hot showers, electricity and wifi so everything you need. It was a 20 min walk to the beach although Zac and I got completely lost and walked through the woods and over sand dunes before we found it. But what amazing surroundings to get lost in. Zac was in his element. It is a lovely sandy beach. It was 5pm by this time so not too busy, and some sections the dog is supposed to be on the lead but as no one was about I didn’t worry! Ive never had the chance to swim with my dog, waters too cold in the UK when dogs are allowed on the beach, so I although i forgot to put swim wear on, sod it, I went in the water in my t shirt and pants, you couldn’t really swim as too shallow but sat and wadded, all good fun. If I’d had more time I probably would have stayed for a couple of days as the beach was so nice. The cost of the campsite also put me off as twice the price of earlier in the week, great for families though.
Next stop Amsterdam. Staying at the city camp, another motorhome stop. When I got there they made sure I was aware there were no showers or toilets. Toilets were the issue but hey, I have my kamper toilet if need be. Shame I’m not a rave fan, huge rave festival on next to our camp, music blaring from three different stages, all a load of crap to me mind, and that’s not me getting old, never liked hard core rave!
To get to the city it was a 5 min walk to the ferry, a free ferry ride across to the train station and there you go. I walked around the busy part first, suddenly thinking this is a bad idea, way too busy for me and a dog. An Englishman dressed as a care bear throwing up in the canal, lovely, stag and hen dos everywhere you look, the strong smell of weed in every other cafe, great if that’s your kind of thing, not for me I’m afraid. Then I walked down a side street and found a lovely quite area with outside dining and we sat and had a drink and nachos. A Dutch couple chatted away to me and gave me recommendations for sightseeing, more windmills which I love, and more cheese making-heaven. I saw them a few hours later, very drunk, shouting ‘Zac, Zac’ down the street. Bless them, an older couple having fun together just what I like to see. I roamed the street, in the non prostitute sense, for 5 hours, got lost, got back on course, was trying to find the red light district to be nosey and wondered where it was, when I looked to my right and saw a lady in the window. I was already in it, oops. These women amaze me, just standing there in next to nothing waiting for a man to stare and become bait!
My favourite stag costumes of the day were a group dressed as Super Mario and pals, great effort. As the sun sets I decide I shall head back as very drunk people keep wanting to steal the dog or cuddle me, neither pleasant so back to the rave campsite. I had made a makeshift toilet by putting my tent over the boot, and tables and chairs to hide the toilet and put toilet roll and hand wash on the table just like a bathroom. I was quite impressed although the tent wasn’t quite big enough to go completely over on both sides so one side was rather open to an audience. Fine at night when no lights, not so good in the morning, but made other arrangements when it came to it and shan’t divulge! After a shaky start I had a great day, pleased I came back to Amsterdam.
I stopped off at the windmills on the way out. In Zaandijk, called Zaanse Schans. Another hidden gem, although everyone and their dog arrived after 12pm so go early if you are going to. Lovey walks around the river, boat rides again, workshops. Expensive parking, but worth it to be honest. So apart from a stop off near the Rhine to break the journey up that’s Holland done and Germany awaits. I love the fact the Dutch do actually wear clogs, well in the countryside maybe not the cities. That bikes are the most important thing on the road. I heard someone say ‘in Holland its bikes, people then cars’. Love it. Their bikes are made for usefulness and resourcefulness, no one cares they aren’t new or modern. They have a whole shop for Lego, I mean how cool. I look Dutch as everyone speaks to me in Dutch and I have to correct them. And everyone is so friendly. So pleased I came here. Must visit again soon! Vaarel mijn vriend.