Vlaardingen, Netherlands

I left Keukenhof and randomly chose what some of us call aires, or stellplatz, or sostas. They’re dedicated parking areas for motorhomes all over the continent, Sometimes they have water and toilet emptying facilities, sometimes with electric, sometimes with absolutely nothing just a parking spot.

Some charge €2 and some charge up to €20, I never pay more than €5 because I mostly use them for water and emptying my toilet and I can fill my tanks pretty much anywhere, so a fiver is worth it to empty the toilet. Any more than that and I may as well pay for a full site.

The one I chose was only a few miles away and was a bare parking space in a town called Vlaardingen. It turned out to be a good choice as it’s a gorgeous little town with every amenity you could wish for. The parking spot was right next to the canal and there was some lovely boats on the water, many that people live in. It had a 48 hour limit on it which was fine and day 2 was 31 degrees!

Is this a giant! Or am I being Quixotic.

A windmill
The first windmill I’ve seen since I come to the Netherlands.

After work we went out for a good walk around and I spotted my very first windmill since coming to the Netherlands. I was a teeny bit excited and it was much bigger than I imagined them to be. It had been turned into a museum and was slap bang in the middle of a housing estate. 

One thing I’ve noticed about the Netherlands is that pretty much everywhere you go is clean. The Dutch clearly take pride in where they live and they look after their own homes and the areas around them. It’s very nice to see.

On my last night in Vlaardingen I heard a loud bang and looked outside to see a blazing car. The bang must have been one of the tyres exploding. It was very well ablaze and right next to another car and a building. 

Call the fire brigade!

I called the emergency services (113 in Europe) and was pleased to note they spoke English on request. They passed me through to the fire service who also spoke good English. A car on fire

Another tyre exploded before they arrived but it was dealt with within 2 minutes. Nice to see services in another country in action just to see how they compare. They were very swift and competent. 

Anyway that was the excitement over with and I’m leaving Vlaardingen tomorrow. It’s been a lovely visit but I’m moving off to Germany methinks.

This should be fun because there are many, many cities in Germany that disallow access to any vehicle below Euro 4. Mine’s Euro 3. I’m hoping there are plenty of Park and Rides around. 

Environmentally friendly

The Dutch fire service dealing with a burning carI am very much in support of controlling polluting vehicles but the simple act of banning them from cities and/or charging extra money to use them isn’t I think a great response. It’s a big swindle in fact if you ask me. 

Develop better engines and cleaner fuels if you want to move on.

Here’s a few photos from the town of Vlaardingen.

 

 

 

 

 

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Ahh I’ve so long wanted to come to Amsterdam. I remember when I was young enough to think it was the capital of Holland and that Holland was a country. Now I know better of course but the excitement still hasn’t left me. 

 Amsterdam City CampI stayed at what could be called a campsite, Amsterdam City Camp, but really it’s just a decent parking ground for campers. Secure, and you can see from the photo just how secure the gates are, with water and toilet emptying facilities and something I’ve never seen before: the ability to pay per 24 hours.

Most sites allow you to arrive anywhere from 12 pm onwards and expect you to depart before 11 am the next day. However that means on arrival day and departure day you lose a large part of that day, which kind of goes against the grain of a holiday. With this one you pay at the electronic terminal, and you are allowed to stay for 24 hours from that time. It’s a smooth and seamless process and your ticket allows you entry and exit through the pedestrian gate, and exit form the site when you leave.

Amsterdam City CampThis without doubt is the way forward for campsites. It’s much better value, it doesn’t take any profit from the owner and it maximises the time you can enjoy your holiday. I mostly enjoy my days sight seeing and travel in the evenings as I’m less likely to be doing anything at that time so for me that method of charging is perfect.

You can see from the second photo just how large this space is. And when you come out it is about 5-10 minutes walk to a free ferry that takes about 10-15 minutes to dock at the amazing central station of Amsterdam. Bicycle parking

The ubiquitous bicycles are very apparent everywhere you go. There’s literally thousands of them parked on the streets, in storage racks, in bays, and sometimes just left right by the side of the road. Considering some of these bikes sell for about €2000 I’m surprised people don’t take more care. 

There are about 6 rows of these dual story cycle parks on the wharf at Amsterdam central station. These cycle parking stations appeared in several locations, thousands of cycles all safely stored. Some had clearly not been moved for years.

David's hatThe 2014 movie The Fault in our Stars was about a couple named Hazel and Gus who are both cancer sufferers. A scene from the movie has them sitting on this exact bench in Amsterdam which has since become a shrine for lovers from all over the world. In the picture the young man is holding a leather hat, you can read about this if you follow the link David’s hat

The canals are as beautiful as they always appear on TV and in photos. I was lucky in that the day I went was a scorcher of a day so I think I saw it at it’s best. you can find more photos in the album but they are only small size for the blog.