Sunday, 16.07.06: Our summer holiday was planned for Belgium and the Netherlands. Some may now raise the question: Why do they need a 4x4 truck for these countries? The reason is our 15-year son who does no longer fancy to spend the holidays with these old “farts”. So far he has spend every year one week with the grandparents and this was the plan as well for this year. To pass by and drop him off was more or less in that direction. But after one week he is getting too desperate to get home again – respectively to his PC and High-Speed – Internet access! But our plan was to go for TWO weeks holiday, which was appreciated very much from Robin. This meant for him that he has one week the house for himself. But in case of a catastrophe we wanted to be back home – or the remains – as soon as possible. So the Netherlands and Belgium fitted perfectly, in addition Anita never really was in the Netherlands.
So we started on Sunday morning at 09:3h from Bad Kreuznach to northern Hessen. We left Robin at his grandparents at 15:30h after we had a BBQ for lunch and headed to Papenburg. The Meyer-shipyard unfortunately didn’t had a parking place for camper vans. So we drove further direction of Harbour-North (Hafen-Nord) and found a silent and nice parking place to stay overnight, located in a curve of the exit (N53° 04’ 53’’, O 07° 22’ 35’’, more official places to stay overnight you find at Hotel Hilling, Mittelkanal 94 and a parking place directly in the city. We spend the night by watching a DVD („Bear Brothers“ from Disney, what a thrill!!) after he have had dinner and finally went to bed.
Monday, 17.07.06: After we had been to a supermarket we started direction of the Netherlands. We passed the dyke of the Ijselmeer. On the landside of the dyke they have a motorway with several parking lots from which you have a nice view to the North Sea and to the Ijselmeer. From here we drove to Den Gelder, the biggest navy harbour of the Netherlands. We only made a short walk through the city because of the heat (app. 35°C, felt like 45°C!!). As a result we still had time to drive south to Alkmaar, which is a nice old town with canals (they call it „Grachten“) and beautiful old houses. We were amazed that from of 18:00h all shops were closed which frustrated my wife (but delighted me, hating shopping!).
So as well this stay was rather short and we drove further to the south to Aalsmer to a campground, which offered shuttle-service to Amsterdam. Because staying overnight with a campervan outside campgrounds (or some very few special places) is forbidden we had to go for this option.
Tuesday, 18.07.06: Amsterdam, city tour incl. Rijksmuseum, flower market at Munttoren (money tower), Grachten and canals, boat-tour though the canals and everything at extremely high temperatures!
The house of the Guild, the people who placed the order for the painting "The night watch" to Rembrandts stayed here.
The smallest house in Amsterdam.
Bridges, Bridges, Bridges, ....
Wednesday, 19.07.06: Checkout at campground and with the Metro again to Amsterdam: Rembrandthuis, coffee shop, and with Metro back to pick up Big Foot. We then drove to Hilversum and were allowed to stay at Vocas (thank you very much to Fred Blok and his Team).
Thursday, 20. July 2006: Shopping in a „Supermarket“ in Hilversum.
Remark: Who is used to supermarkets from France, Germany etc. will fail to find similar sized ones. There aren’t ANY! Even this reward wining one (they happily showed their prices in a corner) in Hilversum was only comparable to small sized market in Germany – please respect that I am saying “market”, NOT supermarket! The search for “Supermarkets became our “running gag” whilst our holidays. Another issue, which were no longer used to were the opening hours of the shops: After 17:00h, the latest 18:00h everything is closed!
After we have left the award-winning supermarket we drove to Amersfort, which is beautiful medieval City.
We finally went to Gouda including a walk through the old town.
We stayed at one of the few places were you are allowed to stay overnight in the Netherlands. Who is looking for such places I have here two links which we had visited beforehand: http://camper-freaks.nl/ and than go to „Stellplattze NL“ or here http://home.arcor.de/telbus/womo-sp/
Friday, 21.07.06: In the morning we started to Den Haag. In the Mauritshuis we visited the remarkable gallery. Really impressive and compared to the Rijksmuseum small but a beauty. Especially the paintings from Vermeer left a deep impression. Rembrandt’s were as well some very famous and typical paintings shows. When looking at the pictures we sometimes thought that we already saw these pictures before. And in fact the old painters frequently painted the same theme in slightly different variations.
After a walk through the city including Binnenhof, the „Grote Kerk“ we drove to southern Netherlands, Ouddorp. We found a campground (first one completely booked) and had a BBQ before we had a relaxed evening.
Saturday, 22.07.06: The costs for that campground were not too high and so we wanted to stay one more night but unfortunately they were completely booked for the next days. So we drove to the beach close by and stayed here till 13:00h before it started to rain. So we went shopping in Ouddorp, bought sole, „Kibbeling“ (fried fish) and Matjes (young herring). The next stop was at a nice seaside next to the road N57, (N 51°46’ 52’’, O 03° 52’ 27’’). Lots of camper cans were there. The Dutch people warned us not to stay here overnight because the police is extremely tough here and looking especially for campervan staying outside campgrounds and fine with EUR 185,-. So before it became completely dark we found a campground on a farm, located between Zirikzee and Nieuwekerk.
Sunday, 23.07.06: In the morning we visited Zirikzee.
A very nice, old town with a beautiful harbour. Because of the beauty of the town the visit was quite long before we left the Netherlands through the Oosterschelde tunnel to Brugge in Belgium.
Here they are well prepared for campervans and so we stopped at the camper “harbour” and enjoyed the sole for dinner. We really enjoyed the camper friendly Belgium after the Netherlands. Although the area was huge it was completely crowded. The huge interest in this area was more than obvious because it is only a few minutes by feet to the fantastic medieval city.
The Market Place
The place was free of charge and even the water supply was for free. Unfortunately they didn’t had a dumping area for wastewater or the toilets. As a result some „pigs“ to misuse the normal canalisation to get rid of their wastewater. I hope for all campers who want to take advantage of this generous offer from Brugge that they will NOT close this place!
I don’t want to go into too blame a certain nationality but all people which I saw acting in that ridiculous way came from that country which was the only one who won again Germany in the soccer championship 2006!
Monday, 24. July 2006: We visited Brugge intensively including the boat tour through the canals till late afternoon. After dinner we started again for a walk through the illuminated city- marvellous! Brugge leaves the impression as if it is from 500 years ago. But despite being a museum it is a living city not only depending on tourism - fantastic.
Tuesday, 25.07.2006: From Brugge we drove to Blankenberge because they were recorded to have a special place for campervans. But it was quite expensive and without any water supply or dumping facility. So we drove direction of Zeebrugge and stopped behind Blankenberge alongside street N34 (N 51° 19’ 20’’, O 03° 09’ 32’’) and stayed there at the beach for the hole day. In the evening we found with slightly red skin a place in the direction of Oostende behind De Haan (N 51° 16’ 22’’, O 03° 01’ 22’’).
Wednesday, 26.07.2006: It is really HOT again! And Anita looks like distinct areas of baboon monkeys! And we are driving in the humid heat in the direction of Gent.
We first check the place for campervans alongside a canal, in the Zuiderlaan street (N 51° 02’ 57’’, O 03° 41’ 21’’). It is a nice place but too far in the heat. So we try to find a parking place in the city and luckily we are successful. It is a small dead-end-road, normally only for cars but because of restructuring Big Foot does not interfere here too much. We find out that there was a one-weeks music event, which has just ended. Under the de-rigged platforms waste is still laying around which they obviously hadn’t a chance to take care about. We hope that this is the case, otherwise it would be a shame for Gent. After having been to Brugge Gent is not really any longer the highlight of the tour. At 35°C or more we visit the renovated castle (due to the notice boards in the different rooms it seems as if they used nearly every single room to practice torture!)
The big Church
Gent is a beautiful city but after having been to Brugge first … . Anita had got sunburned and therefore another day at the beach is not an option, the temperature is too hot, Brussels we have been several years before, Namur was on our “to be visited”-list but would be a perfect stop on a tour to Paris. So we decide to return to Bad Kreuznach earlier than planned. On our way we stop for the night at a parking place of the Cora supermarket directly at the motorway and go for a short shopping tour. Of course we give our son a phone call to warn him that we will be back earlier – to give him the chance to hide the remains of 5 days party (as he tells us he hasn’t!).
Thursday, 27.07.06: We buy some seafood in the supermarket for the dinner at home with the re-united family. We stop in Aachen to refresh our stock of chocolate and pralines from the factory outlet of Lindt. Info about opening hours etc. pls. look here at Lindt. A good place to stay (overnight as well?) is the Bendplatz (N 50° 47’ 01’’, O 06° 04’ 10’’) as long as they don’t use it for events. The fridge filled up to top we returned to Bad Kreuznach – where it wasn’t really cooler!