Having left Hamburg late in the afternoon we decided to look for somewhere to overnight close to the border with the Netherlands. The GPS mentioned a number of Stellplatz that might be suitable. The first we arrived at was no good as we needed fresh water and there was no sign of any. Eventually we found what we were looking for in Meppen, a Stellplatz complete with sani station.
In the morning we continued on, quickly passing the border and entering Holland. We stopped at a fuel station and Joy noticed that they had free wifi. We had not been online since Berlin so parked up for a few hours and caught up on emails. Whilst I had loved our time in Germany the lack of unsecured internet connections was the only downside for the overseas motorhome traveller. The Netherlands was completely different, unsecured internet connections almost everywhere. It seems their attitude towards towards internet access is much like their attitude to sex and drugs, much more liberal. Since most of Thursday had passed we decided to look for a free place to overnight as close to Amsterdam as possible. The earlier internet research had revealed that there seemed to be a free place in Naarden, suitable for three motorhomes. When we arrived there was one other motorhome parked up and so we took our place. A boot up of the laptop revealed another free unsecured internet connection which allowed us to research where to go in Amsterdam and we also downloaded a few Geocaches to the GPS.
On Friday we drove into Naarden itself and parked up. We were looking for a Geocache near the church which we failed to find. In front of the church is a statue of Jon Amos Comenius who is buried in the mausoleum. A Czech born Protestant, he was forced to flee because of his religious beliefs. A staunch believer in universal education he was invited to reform the education systems of countries like Sweden and England and is known by many as the father of modern education. In the 1655 Northern Wars he declared his support for the Swedish Protestants which led to his house and manuscripts being burned by Polish partisans. He fled this time to Amsterdam where he died in 1670.
It was still quite early and since we would not be able to check-in to our campsite until noon we decided to visit Zaanse Schans, just 10 miles northwest of Amsterdam. Zaanse Schans is a popular tourist attraction, mainly because of the windmills but they also have a number of preserved traditional houses. It was not the best lighting for photography and so we only took a handful of images before leaving and checking in at our campsite.
On our arrival at Camping het rietveen a sign advised us that they did not have an office and that we should select our pitch and they would come to us. Before deciding on a pitch we needed to visit the motorhome service point to empty our grey water tank and to take on fresh drinking water. Once on our pitch and with electricity connected we headed out to catch a bus into the city centre. We did not have much daylight left to explore the tourist attractions of Amsterdam, particularly as we had a few geocaches to find first. After an hour or so of exploring the canals and squares we were feeling the cold and thought it would be a good idea to look for a coffee shop, namely the famous De Dampkring. Joy took the opportunity to take a free postcard and poster and we ordered a hot chocolate and ‘special’ muffin each. After downing the chocolate we left with our muffins and carried on our sightseeing. When visiting Amsterdam you feel compelled to walk through the red light district. It does not really get lively until very late but we were tired and hungry and could not wait that long. We stopped in a branch of Subway for a meal and then visited Amsterdam’s seedier side. It was dark now which at least made the neon lights stand out better. Not all the girls had started their shift yet, but Joy was at least able to get an idea of what the district was like. Before returning to the motorhome Joy was keen to do some shopping in a ‘local’ shop. The very young male shop assistant was able to satisfy Joy with his level of product knowledge and a purchase was made. Unfortunately said purchase was much like some Christmas gifts in that batteries were not included, so now I have 4 less AA’s than I did when the tour began.
Back at the motorhome we sat down with a hot chocolate and muffin to watch a movie called Remember Me. It’s a somewhat ironic title since an hour after consuming the muffins both Joy and I were struggling to follow the plot. At least it means we can watch it again and it will feel like a new movie to both of us.
The following morning we left Amsterdam to continue our journey back to the UK, next destination Bruges.