Holland - Part One

Holiday in Holland in 2011

Station Centraal Amsterdam
On the KLM airplane to Holland, the first thing I noticed was how jovial the Dutch passengers were. The people in the row in front were leaning over their seats, chatting to the people next to me and laughing. A lot. I remembered the exuberance of the Dutch supporters during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Cape Town turned bright orange during the Holland games. A massive party, including an orange double-decker bus, had travelled down to South Africa to follow their team. The Dutch are without doubt, a happy, hearty, friendly nation.

One of the many colourful cyclists
My other half and I arrived at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. From there, it was a 2 minute walk to the train station next door where we took the train to Amsterdam Centraal. And from there, you can get anywhere. The Dutch all speak English so we had no problem buying tickets. The fare was €4.20 each from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal Station.

Our first night was spent at Ibis Hotel in Stopera which was a 30 minute walk away. We could have taken a bus but after a day of sitting on planes and buses we were happy to walk. The hotel is fairly central and our room looked out onto a canal. The Ibis/Accor group are often our hotel of choice as they are well priced and it’s easy to book in advance. Breakfast is optional with Ibis hotels. Ibis Hotel.

Bicycle beer bar
Internet is usually free in the lobby. If you can get a chance to use it. Check prices before hook up to the net in your room. You may be in for a shock.
IBIS tend to do a local style breakfast so it varies from hotel to hotel. A Dutch breakfast would have been €15.00 each. We decided to take to the streets and find our own breakfast. The receptionist guided us to a quaint spot called Bagel and Beans where we each had a soy milk chai latte and a goat cheese with chives omelet which came to €16 in total.

Abandoned bicycle
This was a boating holiday for the most part. My other half is a master mariner and an avid boater. He had pre-booked a charter boat from a place called - Yacht Charters Urk. Although we have a good few boating holidays under our belts, this one was special. This boat was a Dutch steel motor cruiser. My other half has designs on one for us one day. Two things struck me about our boating time in The Netherlands. Firstly, how different the countryside is from previous boating holidays in Europe. The Dutch canals are wide, busy, commercial and a lot more modern for the most part. Big working barges barrel along the canals. This is in contrast to the narrow canals and olde worlde scenery we encountered in the UK and France. There, one only encounters leisure boats.

Family day out on a bicycle
The thing that my brain had a hard time dealing with is the logistics of a country that lies 5 metres below sea level. Everything works the wrong way around. Usually a boat “locks up” when one goes inland. In Holland, one “locks down”. Locks are the waterway equivalent of an elevator or stairs. Boats can’t go up and down slopes so they move through locks to go up or down in stages. Normally water runs toward the sea. But in Holland, well it’s different. For more on locks, boating and waterways visit Waterway Wanderer.

Bicycle parking bay in Gronigen
The next day we took the train from Amsterdam Centraal to Lelystadt to be met by the charter company rep. The trip was 45 minutes and give or take 45 kilometres. The train ticket cost €9.00 each. A big plus with doing a charter boat holiday is your accommodation and your transport are one cost. This particular charter cost €1250.00 per week.

Click here to go to Holland Part 2.

Go to - My Holidays and Trips - at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on - this link.

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