Thursday, 29th May, 2014

Country: Netherlands
Distance travelled:
Weather: generally overcast with occasional showers

This morning was spent trying to encourage yesterday’s washing to dry. With electric hook-up we could utilize our little electric heater but all that seemed to do was add to the humidity. While we waited, we used the internet connection we had paid for to investigate tourist attractions in the Netherlands and to gain more information about Amsterdam. Like most tourists, my primary reason for going was to see the red light district and Mark suggested that perhaps we didn’t want to be walking around there on a Friday or Saturday night. Unfortunately we don’t really want to hang around the Netherlands until after the weekend either.

We eventually left Korenbloem Minicamping at 12pm, having refilled our fresh water tank and drained the grey tank of all the wash water. Paul had recommended we stop at Veere, a picturesque town so we pulled in and had lunch before going for a walk to see the sights. Veere had been a fort town in the time of Napoleon and still had its defensive walls and canon on display. There was also a windmill, not unusual here, but the closest we had been to one and a perfect photo opportunity.


They also had a great little punt operated by pulling a rope for crossing one of the waterways. I crossed over several times just for the fun of it. On the way back to the van we passed a very old well with a cupola built over it. I was just about to pull the camera out to take a shot when a young lad rode up on his bicycle, dumping it against the wall, propped himself up on the surround and proceeded to pull his phone out and play with it. Obviously he was going to be a while so it wasn’t even worth waiting for him to leave again.

Dont pay the ferryman...

The drive to Amsterdam was quite a distance, we went via Rotterdam although we didn’t stop, and arrived at the campsite we had chosen about 5pm. It was the closest to Amsterdam city but we had to travel though some rather unsavory looking areas to get there. We weren’t sure if there had been some sort of carnival on, or road works, or if the area was popular with the local equivalent of gypsies but it all seemed a little rough around the edges. And when we got there, they were fully booked so we had to turn around and travel back through most of it. That campsite however is obviously fully booked frequently since they gave us a printout of several of the next closest camp sites.

The next place we arrived, Gaasper Camping, looked to be just as crowded but as I waited in the queue to ask, a man on a bicycle led Mark away in the van to a spot out the back. The place was huge. Tents and caravans abounded but it was the sheer number of motorhomes that had me gobsmacked. They were lined up neatly on the grass in row upon row upon row. Some people had washing strung up beside them. Some had their table and chairs out. Children were playing ball games and riding bikes about.

Campsite reception had supplied us with detailed information on using the public transport system in multiple languages. We walked to the closest train station, about ten minutes walk and bought a 24 hour ticket. The station was extremely littered although we wondered if this just looked worse because most places we had been since leaving the United Kingdom were very clean (when I get home, I may join Keep Australia Beautiful now I have seen what happens when people don’t care). Alternatively we have heard today is a public holiday, maybe the cleaners are having a break and more people are out making a mess on their day off.

Mark had found a walking tour of Amsterdam online and although it was several years old, the writer had added some very interesting information. It took us through the various areas of the red light district telling us about what ethnicity and ‘style’ of women worked in each street. There was also a bit of history and a description of some of the streets and architecture. We wandered down the narrowest street, the shortest street, the most expensive street (actually the most expensive women) and past those that catered to the more unusual tastes.

Photography was prohibited and we had heard that taking a photo of the windows could lead to your camera taking a swim in the closest canal but we did take a couple of shots of the canals and the crowds. However, since we had chosen to leave the dSLR’s back at the van, we were only carrying our little instant camera so the photos reflect that. I wouldn’t have fancied carrying the bigger camera in those crowds anyway.

Amsterdam 1st night-1

Amsterdam 1st night-2

Despite the fact we were there on a Thursday night, there was an amazing number of people surrounding us, tourists like us or drunk and drugged idiots on bucks and hens nights. The other reason people seem to come to Amsterdam, the legal marijuana, started to bother us after a while. The plain cigarette smoke was inescapable but every block or two we walk by a cafe where the smell of marijuana billowed out. And frequently people would stumble past stinking of it. I’m not sure if my head was buzzing from breathing the fumes or from trying to hold my breath every few steps. Thank goodness we weren’t here on a weekend.

I had been interested in seeing one of the famed sex shows one hears about while we were here but upon investigation, we decided against seeing the live sex show or the Banana Bar show as they were quite expensive and included several drinks we didn’t want anyway. I dragged Mark into the peep show instead, going in with a planned amount to spend. This place had five girls doing their thing in succession and then on the hour a couple would have sex. We had waited until close to the hour and then in fear of missing a viewing box, went in and spent a few dollars while the girls were on display. It was actually more interesting watching the reactions of other people, faintly visible through the glass windows opposite us.

When the star attractions finally made their appearance, it was everything I had expected. The reactions of the couple in the booth opposite us however, were worth every penny to watch, the woman in particular stood with wide eyes and her hand over her mouth. Mark was almost bent double with silent laughter. We eventually vacated the booth to allow others an opportunity to see the action.

The train took us back out to the camp site and we were tucked up in bed by 12.30am still reeling from the crowds and fumes and glad to be out of our now stinking clothes. Our evenings seem to be getting later and later but the best time for photography is during the blue hour after dusk and that is getting later and later. Not sure how we will handle this further north.

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