Wednesday, August 25, 2010
We arrived in France by ferry from Dover, England, yesterday morning. Everything was immediately different. Our hearts were beating fast at the idea of driving on the right. It really does take two to do the driving over here—Chuck does the maneuvering and I do the quick intake of breath and then the gasp and then the reminder “DRIVE ON THE RIGHT!” But, we made it. Who would have thought it would be an adjustment driving the way we have all our adult lives? I guess three months of driving on the left gets a hold on you.
We were out of France too soon, swiftly arriving in Belgium. We hadn’t really had a breakfast so we stopped at a rest stop only to find a restaurant with exorbitant prices—€19 for a meal at a gas station??? We moved on, finally finding the perfect place with great cappuccinos, friendly service and almost reasonable prices (€2.50 each). We grabbed a couple of rolls from the shop and made sandwiches inside Homer.
I do love being back in Europe and there is a definite difference, I just can’t put my finger on it. Susan was right on with her navigating, almost as if she was glad to be back too. In fact, she took us right to the campground. As we went through a small roundabout, there was a single clog, lying on its side—only in Holland.
As soon as we were settled—it takes about 2 minutes to set up and plug in—we called Hans and Nel whom we had met way back in September at the Paris campground. They are the ones who bought us the discount ACSI camping book and mailed it to us at our hotel in Istanbul. They also made the arrangements for us at our current campground, Camping ‘t Witven, even taking care of payment for it so they would hold a spot for us (€25.20). We agreed to meet in 30 minutes and they drove over from their home and picked us up.
Relaxing with Hans and Nel in Paris
It was wonderful seeing them again. Their home is perfect—small and compact with a wonderful kitchen and just right for two people. Hans has a large vegetable garden and Nel made a dinner from all their own fresh produce. I could kick myself for not taking a picture of the food!
Nel in the kitchen
We had a good visit, talking a lot about travel—they are very comfortable people to be with and have been all over, including Russia and Israel.
The next morning, Hans and Nel picked us up at the campground and took us on a wonderful tour of Holland. We started with Eindhoven which seems to have a space ship and a very interesting modern building.
I liked this statue of Frits Philips, founder of Philips electronics. I thought the scarf added a nice touch.
We stopped for coffee at the square where we met up with their son, David, and his wife, Anna, and their 4-1/2 month old daughter, Victoria Cornelia (for Nel). What a lovely family. We had a fun, relaxing visit in the sunshine.
Anna, Hans and Victoria
Walking back to the car, we noticed a bike parking garage. Hans suggested we go down and see it.
The escalator is flat so you can take your bike down to the underground garage.
Hans riding the escalator back up
We stopped to see a windmill on our way to lunch. We also saw a couple of stork nests, one of them occupied.
The lunch menu came only in Dutch but Hans and Nel both recommended the Krockettes as being very Dutch. They were really delicious but hard to describe.
Our next destination was Kinderdijk where the story of Pieter and the dike originated. He’s the one who put his finger in the dike to save the land from being flooded.
We were able to go inside a windmill and climb up and up the stairs to see how it worked and enjoy the views. One of the rooms had a built in wall bed, a stove, dining table and other furniture. It was certainly cozy.
We enjoyed looking at the bucolic countryside but decided we better drive on to see Gouda, home of the famous cheese. What a charming little town.
Lots of bikes
We toured the church for a discounted price, because it was 15 minutes to closing, then slowly strolled through the quiet streets, stopping to sample (and buy) some Dutch waffle cookies, ending up at a cheese shop (of course!).
Siroop Wafelen—very tasty with a touch of cinnamon
We like the old cheese the best (Nel bought some for us) and the green basil cheese. It was very interesting even if it is a strange color for cheese.
What a completely great day! We enjoyed every minute of it and feel like we’ve really seen another side to Holland. I love this country and can't say enough about the kindness of Hans and Nel. We were so lucky to meet them.
A good friend is better than silver and gold. ~ Dutch Proverb
Posted by Chuck and Claire at 8/25/2010 11:52:00 AM