Weather: About 18 deg and sunny with a light wind
This morning I had my first experience with a coin operated shower. I had heard of such things in Europe but am still puzzled as to the reason. Is it to stop people like me who like long showers? Is it to bypass the fact that some people seem unable to turn the tap all the way off and leave the tap running? Is it so that a camper only pays for what they want to use (ie electricity or the camp kitchen) while at a campsite? Or is it just another way of making money? Either way I surprised myself, even managing to wash my hair in under five minutes.
We walked back to the nearby train station and headed back into Amsterdam to see the more family friendly parts of the city by daylight. I had noticed some canal cruises on our way in yesterday and wanted to see the sights while sitting down. Last nights’ walking tour had left its mark. There was a selection of companies to choose from, and in deference to our budgetary restraints, we went with the cheapest at €8.50 rather than the typical €15. It took the same time so I’m not quite sure what the difference was.
The cruise initially took us out onto Amsterdam harbour where we saw a huge cruise ship, from Italy I think, and then into the canals where the captain shared quite a lot of information regarding the history of Amsterdam and the various buildings and bridges we were passing. We also passed a number of other canal boat tours on much the same route so I can’t quite work out why they charged more.
Since we had a 24 hour public transport ticket, after the canal tour we took the tram to the flower market. As expected there was a vast selection of tulip bulbs for sale but there was other bulbs as well and a selection of tuberous plants such as peonies and daliahs. Many other weird and wonderful seeds and seedlings from all over the world including several types of carnivorous plants were also available. The stalls all advertised postage to your home country but I’m not sure how they would have handled Australian importation laws.
From there we walked to Waterloo Station, stopping briefly at Febo, a fast food joint with the weirdest vending machine system. Each single serve is behind a little door which opens when money is inserted. We were searching for a croquette like the ones Paul had brought when he came visiting in the Netherlands and ended up with something close but not quite the same.
Eventually we boarded the train back to the campsite, finding the station we got off at being cleaned so we assume yesterday’s mess was because of the public holiday. Mind you, the guy sweeping the floor while simultaneously flicking his cigarette ash behind seems the height of pointlessness. Once back at the van, we spent some time using their internet to decide where we were spending the evening, then quickly packed up and were on our way. The bill came to €27.50 including two hours at €2 each for our overstay but included internet access.
Driving north from Amsterdam, we crossed the Afsluitdijk.
The Afsluitdijk (English: Enclosure Dam) is a major causeway in the Netherlands, constructed between 1927 and 1933 and running from Den Oever on Wieringen in North Holland province, to the village of Zurich in Friesland province, over a length of 32 kilometres and a width of 90 m, at an initial height of 7.25 m above sea-level. It is a fundamental part of the larger Zuiderzee Works, damming off the Zuiderzee, a salt water inlet of the North Sea, and turning it into the fresh water lake of the IJsselmeer.
We stopped at the midway rest point, climbing to the top of the viewing platform to enjoy the view and then wandering over to the southbound rest stop to read the information plaque.
Just off the dyke, we stopped for the evening at a tiny village, Zurich, where there was designated motorhome parking. There was a tiny shop, mainly orientated toward fishing and we bought a drink but they didn’t stock the bread we were lacking. The closest bread was available at Harlingen, the lady told us, just seven kilometers away. Mark was tired and we’d gone to some effort to park neatly in a corner of the carpark. It was still quite early in the evening, just gone 5pm in fact and sunny, with a light breeze. So I decided to get out my bike and take it for another ride. I had enjoyed the riding I had done so far and with no plans for the evening, I had all the time in the world to fetch us some bread.
The sea side of the dyke was concreted from the waterline to halfway up where it changed to grass but there was a level strip perfect for cycling. I was up and over near where we were parked and found the first drawback to my plan, a headwind not noticeable from the landward side. No reason to give up, after all it would be a tail wind on my return. I rode along, dodging the occasional stupid sheep supposedly grazing. Amazing how some of them watched me pass with unconcern while others seemed to see me as the incarnation of evil and stampede away. I began to understand the purpose of all twenty-one of the gears on my bike.
Arriving at Harlingen, I was just in time to see the Aldi supermarket close up for the evening. I took a punt and turned toward the centre of town. It was very picturesque as many small towns are with cobbled streets and people eating out on sidewalk cafés. As I rode around looking for another supermarket or failing that a corner store, the clock tower chimed. It was a series of bells playing a very pretty little tune and quite sweet.
Starting to feel a little defeated I cast further from the centre of town, stumbling across a Jumbo Supermarket. With a sigh of relief I staggered in and bought the bread we needed, some Parmesan cheese to make the carbonara I had promised Mark for dinner and a packet of stroopwaffels. The first packet was nearly empty and I was enjoying them with my coffee for breakfast. I wasn’t sure where I’d find more once we left the Netherlands. I was unsurprised to find the closed Aldi supermarket just around the bend when I set off again. Shows my skills at guessing the correct way to go hasn’t improved one bit.
All in all, by the time I made it back to the van I had ridden just over 17km in one hour and forty minutes . That tail wind had really helped on the way back but I was not impressed by the knowledge that a wrong turn had added on three unnecessary kilometers. I sat for a while before cooking dinner, a fettuccine carbonara with chicken and peas but it wasn’t as satisfactory as my first attempt had been. Chalk it up to exhaustion.
Leaving Mark to do the cleanup, I climbed back up the dyke to watch the sunset although the open sea wasn’t going to give much interest to any photos and the clouds weren’t adding anything either. I got chatting to a gentleman out walking both his dog and cat and completely missed the moment when the sun dropped below the horizon, around 10pm now.
Sunset from Dyke
I think I will certainly agree to Marks suggestion to drive straight from the Netherlands to the ferry port at the top of Germany tomorrow. We will have to stop for fuel, LPG and groceries before we take the ferry to Denmark but I don’t think I will be in any state to go sightseeing after that ride. A quiet day driving will suit me down to the ground.