In Brussels and the Netherlands, we met the police

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Flag of Netherlands  , Noord-Holland,
Thursday, July 15, 2010

Belgium / The Netherlands

Right... In reflection on our first week, we have run at a pace which we normally run at when we travel on shorter breaks. So initially we have blitzed the first part of the trip however I can now say that we have our groove back and now travelling at a better pace.

After the crossing, we made our way to Gent to complete Belgium (as we have seen Brussels and Bruge on previous trips). On our drive into town, Sarah (the sat nav) directed Donna into the heart of the town... which we think was a pedestrian only zone... opps... at least there were a few other cars which seemed to make the same mistake). 

Shortly after leaving Grandpar (the van), we walked into town to have a look around the city in search for great architecture, chips and mayo (local favourite) and a place to people watch (preferably with a beer in hand). Luckily, we found all three and enjoyed the afternoon chilling in the sun. Our favourite beer was a Cheery one which tasted fantastic!

That evening, we tried our first go at free camping in the centre of town. Ironically as we drove around town, we found a fantastic spot next to the canal. Sadly it was also in front of a posh house in which the family was hosting a dinner party. Brave Donna closed the curtains in our van in front of the disapproving and watchful eye of the dinner guests. This made it quite uncomfortable to relax that evening, but a funny story none the less.

Next stop was Amsterdam, the long awaited stop for us both. After navigating into town, we preceded to walk around the canals in search for Anne Franks's house. The house is a museum dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank, who hid from Nazi persecution with her family and four other people in hidden rooms. The story is a chilling story of the brutality during WWII and the struggle to survive. Donna and I ended up in buying a copy of her diary and have started to read it. 

Shortly after emerging from Anne Franks house, we preceded to check out the next must see on the Amsterdam list.... the red light district. Wow... all I can say is that the girls were so young (barely 18... some even looked younger). It was tasteful yet also sad... very interesting to see the tourists reactions when called out to by the girls in the windows. After this, Donna and I were in need of some caffeine and quickly dropped into a 'coffee shop', say no more.

Second night of free camping that night in front of a camp site (yay... free use of the showers and toilets and a 30 euro saving). However this also turned sour when the next morning the police decided to wake us up and hand us a fine for 'free camping'. Grrrr. (Since then we have learnt several tips and tricks to free camp.. least to say... you're asking for it when you sleep in front of a camping ground...). Initially we were very ticked off but now we can laugh at it... it was a steep way to find out what not to do.

Due to poor weather we decided to leave Amsterdam and head to Dan Haag to see the Escher Museum and then quickly to Gouda. Again the towns were lovely and great to wander around. Initially we found it hard to find parking for Grandpar which again is another chapter. Never less we embarked to 'free camp' again that night only to again be woken by the police, however these were a lot friendlier than the last and let us go... few... 

After some sleepless nights and poor weather, we decided to head into Germany in search for warmer weather and hopefully some friendlier police...

 
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