Back to Gordons Bay

We woke up earlier than planned which meant I could take my time getting ready. An hour later we were out of the hotel and at the tram stop. Everything ran smoothly until we tried to go through the gate to the train. Our one way ticket was for yesterday. Such a pain and a waste of money. But it didn’t cost us time thankfully.

We arrived at Schiphol at 07:18 and it took 90 minutes before we were through passport control. It’s worth keeping in mind if you are travelling via Amsterdam. For EU passport holders it’s much quicker as they have automatic scanning. Something I’m looking forward to when South Africa introduces this next year.

We had breakfast in the Aspire Lounge and then boarded the plane. I had chosen to leave the middle seat empty between Dave and I. It worked wonders on the flight coming here. But someone booked the seat for our return flight. She was happy to swap and then asked the flight attendant to move her if there were two empty seats somewhwre. So strange to have booked this seat then when she could have chosen seats elsewhere where two next to each other were empty. And she paid for her choice.

Two people were not allowed to travel so we had to wait for their luggage to be taken off the plane. And we had to wait for an oxygen bottle. Eventually we took off just over half an hour late. Lunch was served at 12 – chicken for mains and a cheese cake for dessert with a bottle of Chenin Blanc. We got a cheese sandwich at tea time made with Beemster cheese and bread from Carl Siegert Bakery who mill their grains using the windmills. From experience I can tell you its extremely noisy inside the windmill when it’s running.

I spent most of the flight reading and at 7pm Dave got us a snack. Supper was served at 8pm. A margherita panini and coconut cheesecake made for a perfectly light meal. With a bottle of Shiraz this time.

We landed 10 minutes late and the longest queue was the health check. Once that was done we went through passport control, collected the case and headed home. A very long day after a truly great time away.

Amsterdam

We slept in this morning and our first task was to recce the route to catch the train to Schiphol. We bought the one way ticket we will need tomorrow morning. This will save us time and it’s easier knowing where you are going when you leave in the dark. From the train station we caught the metro which went around the outskirts of Amsterdam and then we went back to the older part of the city. First coffee in the Red Light District and then a lot more walking.

We went to the Jewish Quarter and it’s the first Synagogue we’ve seen in Europe without armed police or army presense. We walked along The Amstel and stopped in De Pijp for a beer. Then along the Canal Belt before getting tostis for lunch.

We ambled through Vondelpark after espressi and then did some shopping. Tonight is all about packing and getting ready for our 6:30am start tomorrow.

Once we had packed, we went to the dining room and had a picnic supper. Then normal bed time as we’ve set the alarm for our usual wake-up.

Pancakes Amsterdam

Our day started with getting to the Laboratory for our PCR Test.

We were very early but thankfully they saw us when we arrived. We had to have a nasal and mouth swab and it was not pleasant. But not as bad as I thought it would be. After that we came back to the Hotel, and Mark and Dave had croissants for breakfast.

We then caught a tram to the Museum area of Amsterdam and walked to Albert Cuypmarkt. We started with coffee and had a look around before going to Centraal Station.

On our first visit to Amsterdam Dave, Mark and I went to Pancakes Amsterdam for lunch. It was so good, that we came back with Mark on our last day together on that trip. So it seemed fitting that our last meal together would be there. We waited in the queue for quite some time and then had Dutch pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. We said our good byes and Mark headed off home.

Dave and I then did some ferry hopping across the water to various parts of Amsterdam and then we walked to The Cow Meseum close to Dam Square. We had coffee and headed back to the Hotel for the last part of the afternoon.

Dave wanted to re-experience a rijstafel so we went to Restaurant Blauw for dinner. It was a lot of different, amazing food and after supper we came back to the hotel and collapsed.

Back to Utrecht and Amsterdam

After packing up and tidying we set off along the Dijk for Utrecht. Eventually we had to cross De Lek and then headed into Utrecht. We walked around the old city, had the obligatory espresso and had hot dogs for lunch from a food truck.

After that we headed for Amsterdam. I had found a park and ride garage that cost €1 for the day which had a serious queue waiting to get in. But it was quick and it looks as if they allocate a few of the actual parking bays to the P+R. We parked, got caught in a rain storm and found a bus to bring us close to the hotel. We walked along the cobblestone, each dragging a suitcase and found where we needed to be with no problem. After checking in and sorting things out we went for a look around.

Back to Dam square and we had drinks in the LGBQT area before more walking around. Then Dave and Mark had beers while I went to Uniqlo. They made it for happy hour and I’m sure they were doubly happy to get cheap beers and to not have to look at jackets with me. After that it was back to the hotel.

We walked towards the busier part of where we are staying and found an Italian pizzeria for supper. Sotto do wood fired pizzas and they were generous and good. Dave and I had Sicilian wine and I finished with tiramusu. A proper Italian evening out, and our last one with Mark.

Walking in the rain

Our plans for coffee amongst the windmills was thwarted by the weather. After breakfast Dave and I headed out for a walk to the coffee molen, which is less than 2km from where we are staying. We spent most of the 26 minutes in the rain, and they were closed.

Mark met us there so we hopped in the car and went back to his place. Jouris has an espresso machine so we had lovely coffee there. We then went grocery shopping and back to Mark for lunch. Then back to the apartment to relax. Mark came back late afternoon and we chilled, had dinner and spoke a lot. A lovely early night after a day of doing very little.

Rotterdam

This morning we drove to a Park and Ride facility and caught the tram into Rotterdam. We started off with coffee and had a good walk around. The building construction here is phenomenal. You can see ancient sites next to places hastily constructed after the War.

These ugly, functional buildings are being surrounded by modern architecture. Some of which will confuse the mind.

We bumped into a friend of Mark’s who is constructing floating houses. And he gave us a suggestion of which way to walk.

This led us to Vessel 11 which was a floating lighthouse but is now a restaurant.

We had a beer then walked past the Maritime Museum and across the Nieuwe Maas on The Erasmus Bridge.

The wind was howling which made crossing quite an effort. From there we had frites for lunch at Bram Ladage and headed back to Streefkerk.

We stopped at Graan & Zo in Oud-Alblas. The windmill was running so you could hear the noise of the grain mill at work. I bought some biscuit mix to try at home.

From there it was grocery shopping for a braai at Mark’s place. We dropped the things off at the farm then came back to the apartment. Mark fetched us at 18:00 and by the time we got organised the rain had stopped. We had a build your own burger braai with his housemates which was really lovely. At 21:30 we walked back to the apartment having had another great day.

De Lek

Today was all about relaxing and taking it easy. We drove along the dijk next to De Lek and then took a ferry across De Lek and went to a dairy farm and cheese factory.

After buying cheese we drove around and then had coffee in Lekkerland. After that we took another ferry across De Lek and had lunch at the farm. The crossings were smooth and you hardly noticed the ferry moving and cost €3.50.

After lunch Dave and I came back to our apartment and when Mark arrived we took a walk down to the water and then around Streefkerk. We had a simple dinner and a fairly early night.

Dordrecht

Mondays are not busy work days in Dordrecht and many tourist aimed sites are closed. But this did not detract from how pretty the city is. We had a long walk around the canals and along the waterway and met the cutest Boxer along the way. His owner told us about the artists of the town. And how wealthy children were sent to study under Rembrandt.

A coffee break interrupted our ambling around and just before lunch time we did some shopping.

Today’s picnic was at De Biesenbosch which has a blue flag beach.

We walked around but did not see any beavers. However we did come across a Shepherd and his flock.

After lunch we headed to the nursery to get a gas canister for Mark’s Weber and then did grocery shopping. We went back to Mark’s place to make sure the canister was correct and spent time chatting to his house mates. Dave and I then walked back along the dijk and relaxed before Mark came for supper.

Den Haag and Delft

After breakfast we headed straight for Den Haag and found free parking close to the old part of the city. It also happened to be the Red Light District. We walked around, had some coffee and took in the sights. At midday we made our way back to the car and headed for Delft.

The Phoenix parking garage was perfectly situated for us to see the old part of the city. Our first stop was Shop Kouwenhoven. This old fashioned sweet shop has all sorts of liquorice. With a few choices bagged for Bev and something for Mark we walked around to find somewhere for beer. We sat along the canal and had a drink before looking at Delft ware. The handprinted stuff is wildly expensive and it somehow doesn’t feel right to buy printed ceramics. We did a cheese tasting and headed back to the car.

By now it was past lunchtime so we drove to Delft Hout and had our picnic. Then the long drive back to Mark’s for a beer. We bought Mark a Weber gas braai so got that unpacked before we left Mark there to do some laundry. Dave drove us back to the guesthouse and we relaxed for a bit. We had a late supper, using an apple from a tree at Mark’s place to make apple sauce. Another fantastic day.

The Windmills

After a lazy start to the morning and breakfast, we headed to the Garden Centre to look for a gas BBQ. There was nothing suitable so we went next door to look at the Hardware Store but there was nothing small enough. So we decided the best bet would be to get it online. After that we went to Mark’s work and had a walk around the showroom and the workshop. It was really interesting to see where he works, and nice to meet some of his colleagues.

From there we did grocery shopping and went to the farm where Mark lives. It’s a huge communal house with 9 bedrooms and an amazing indoor, open space for the performance artists to train. The house is between De Lek and a Sloot and is so peaceful. We had lunch there, joined by some of his housemates.

After that we dropped the groceries off where we are staying and then went to Kinderdijk. This is famous for being the place in Holland where you can see the most windmills in one view. And it was an amazing sight. We did a 2.5km walk around the area before heading back to our place for dinner. We had another late lazy evening chatting about all sorts of things.