Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Netherlands - Part 1


Free shuttle bus from Schipol to Ibis
I wasn't actually going to write about this trip because it was such a blur. Our trip to Belgium was hectic but we did get to do a little sightseeing. However this trip, was on-the-go from start to finish. We never got to do any sightseeing. We traveled Holland from bottom to top, and from west to east. We even nipped into Germany via - Ihlow. Basically we saw Holland whizzing past from the windows of our hired car.

Ibis Schipol Amsterdam
The reason I decided to write this piece after all is because I have included our costs which might be helpful if someone is keen to explore The Netherlands by car.

Our reason for going across to Holland was to view boats as my husband wants to buy a Dutch motor cruiser.


There is a lot more to Holland than Amsterdam. Holland has quaint little villages that are steeped in antiquity, beaches and inland waterways. Driving is a perfect way to travel through these charming towns and locations. I can't even start with what goes on in each region so I will give you links to - wikitravellonely planet and Holland tourism to help you get a sense of what and where.

Europcar Schipol Amsterdam
Peugeot 107 Twingo
Holland's border with Belgium is 450 kilometres long and the border with Germany is 577 kilometres long. It is possible to drive it in a day. 


Holland is flat. Seriously properly flat. The only time there is any change is when you drive on a dyke and dykes are man-made. A lot of Holland is man-made. They filled up the marshes and promptly gave themselves more space to live. And that is something I really like about Dutch people. They make a plan. They are pioneering agriculture with massive green houses that can produce huge varieties of crops. My husband thinks they build the best boats. And when their country got too small, they simply made it bigger.

Another thing about Dutch people. They are down to earth, helpful and they all speak perfect English. Which makes it an easy country to visit. Lucky for me, coming from South Africa, I can speak Afrikaans which is a derivative of Dutch so I could understand menus and road signs.

Driving on the wrong side of the road
We arrived in Amsterdam late afternoon. My husband booked our first night at the Ibis Schipol Hotel.

A free shuttle bus comes to
collect you so that was one less thing to worry about. It wasn't the most attractive location but since we were up early the next day to collect our car back at Schipol airport, it made sense. It's an enormous hotel. Plenty tour buses were parked outside. 


We had supper that night at one of the in-house restaurants and it came to €46 incl. tip for two. We shared a bottle of wine and had a main course each. Ibis Hotel was €115 per night for two including breakfast. It was an OK semi-continental breakfast. They have vast self serve sections with the same food repeated at intervals.

Hotel ten Wolde
After breakfast we went back to Schipol Airport where we collected our car for the next three days from Europcar. It was a little Peugeot 107 Twingo and cost €70 for the three days. Insurance was an extra €10 per day. We could have hired a GPS for €12 per day.

My husband bought a GPS from Currys in the UK before we left. If you paying €12 per day and you are likely to use it again, it makes sense to rather invest in your own.

I have say that TOM TOM pronunciation of Dutch place names is atrocious. They Anglicised words so they sounded nothing like Dutch people say them. And then street names like Marie Curie and Marconi sounded nothing like they would in English. Go figure!

Small canal in Lochem
Lochem


We stopped at the petrol stations for a sandwich and a coffee in the day so we didn't lose too much time. 


Our next night was spent at a place called Huis ten Wolde. This turned out to be a spa and organic farm in a rural location near Steenwijk. The rooms were lovely and large with a huge big bed and views of the cows grazing outside. We had supper in-house in the library as they had an event on the go in the dining area. It was a lovely meal. We shared a bottle of wine and had a main course, one desert and a 'koffee verkeerd' or a caffe latte with their home grown milk. Our meal was €80 for two. The room was €120 per night for two including breakfast. Their morning buffet was classy with a selection of home grown dairy including their yummy yogurt.

Our car was set to a station called Radio Veronica by the car hire company. Radio Veronica play classic rock hits from the 70's, 80's 90's and noughties. All the best classics from Queen to Guns and Roses. We loved it. So one more thing to like about the Dutch people. Great taste in music.

Read Part 2 and final next week - on this link.The Travel Archive Page has more on other destinations. Find it on - this link.