Sunday, 27 April 2014

London & Holland April 2014 Day 8

Monty the Motorhome is feeling a little sad, as tonight is his last night in Holland. He’s tucked into a pitch at De Meeuw Camping in the little town of Brielle, which is just across the river from the Hook of Holland, where we will be departing from tomorrow.

The day dawned to a misty start, but by the time we started out it had burnt back and it had all the promise of a fine day.
We had decided to visit Kinderdijk, site of 19 windmills set in classic polder landscape - strips of land separated by canals - and let the sat nav do the work getting us there. So there we were, driving blissfully along, with the display showing we were nearing our destination, when the direction “ turn right ahead ” came up. As I made the right turn the sat nav cheerfully announced “ then take the ferry “. We had turned onto a concrete apron stretching down to a wide river. Not knowing the maximum size of vehicle the ferry could take (there were just a couple of ordinary cars and some cyclists waiting) we decided to wait and see. 

Monty wondering if he's going to be too big and heavy to get on the ferry

All was well and the crossing just took a couple of minutes. Once on the opposite shore we  only took a few more minutes to arrive at the entrance to Kinderdijk. However as we arrived the car park attendant was waving off several other motorhomes - no room as the car park was full. We drove back in the way we had come, but roadside parking was just too exposed with every chance of Monty getting scratched, or worse, if we left him. After several kilometers we came into the town of Alblasserdam and spotted a parking sign for motorhomes. What we came on was designated parking for about a dozen motorhomes, as part of a larger car park. A sign indicated that parking was limited to 24 hours, but there was no sign of any charges. After enquiring at an adjacent information centre it was apparent that parking was free until 1st May. What a great facility - it was our first experience of how ‘motorhome friendly’ towns on the continent are. Why can’t our towns at home do the same?

We had also spotted signs for a waterbus and were hopeful that this could be our route back to Kinderdijk. A quick visit to the Tourist Information Centre showed the waterbus did not start running to Kinderdijk until May, however a very helpful lady explained we could walk there, via woodlands and a nature area, then catch a bus back. She gave us a map, with instructions and off we went. All went well till we came to a housing estate. The map was next to hopeless and the instructions were in Dutch. In the end we asked a little old lady who was busy sweeping her front path. She seemed overjoyed at having someone to give directions to and as it happened we were only one left turn away from the windmill park.

Cue more photos. My photographic record of Holland will be canals, cheese, tulips and windmills!
Kinderdijk is what many people think of as typically Holland - starkly beautiful windmills rising above a flat landscape of reed strewn dykes. Some of the mills were homes, whether these are holiday lets or permanent dwellings I do not know.

We walked through and as advised caught the No 90 bus back to Alblasserdam where Monty was waiting, seemingly settled in amongst six other motorhomes. It was tempting to stay put and overnight here for free. However we had booked our stay at De Meeuw, another ASCI site, and wanted to find out what it was like. So trusting sat nav not to put us on any other ferries - the atlas indicated it was a straightforward route - we moved on.

No problems finding the site, which was very large and commercialised. The pitch was on grass, but with plenty of bare earth from a previous occupant leaving their groundsheet down too long. Good job it had been dry for a while. 

We walked into Brielle for tea, which we had at restaurant with outside seating on the town square. We both had ‘mega grillburgers’ and they certainly lived up to their name.
Brielle is another town that does not make it into the guidebooks, but it has a quiet understated charm with canals, old merchant houses, small sidestreets, massive churches and the ubiquitous cyclists everywhere.

Back in Monty I used up all the daily internet allowance on our Eurosim by loading photos onto Dropbox. Mental note not to try that again.

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