Vacation May 2009
After a rather long delay at the car rental in Gatwick, we were on our way to Newcastle, our “leisurely drive” now a touch and go situation, with the time before departure of our ferry shrinking much faster than the line at the EuropCar counter. Apparently, someone had not shown up for work.
When we finally got up to the wicket, I noticed a TomTom Satellite navigation unit was only 8 Pounds Sterling and I suggested we get one. It was the best $15 we ever spent.The kids names the sultry female voice Scarlet, and she told us exactly where to go, and seeing as we made the ferry a mere 5 minutes before the boat sailed, a single stop for directions or the least amount of back-tracking would have resulting in our schedule being thrown completely off.
It was a perfect day for driving, and the Rapeseed fields were bright yellow and DH did wonderfully driving on the “wrong” side of the road, with his only trouble being that the windshield wipers and the turn signals were also reversed, so when he wanted to signal, he would often turn on the wipers instead.
But we did make the ferry, and as we sailed out of the harbor, we made our way to one of the restaurants and had a very nice meal…my steak came on a sizzling hot cast iron plate set into a wooden board.
After supper, we found a Ball Room for the kids to play in, and they had a blast with another little kid
but we made it an early night, because the next morning we would be disembarking at 9 am, and the breakfast buffet came with our ticket and we wanted to take full advantage of it, and not be rushed.
Something we did not know when we booked this trip is that May 30th is Queens Day, which is a huge celebration all over the whole country, with the Queen visiting everywhere – although some idiot drove their car into the crowd where the Queen was and that put an end to all the festivities everywhere except in Amsterdam. It was incredible to see, but a little nerve wracking too, with each of us holding a kid in each hand, and the place we had found for the kids to have fun at (TunFun) turned out to be closed because it was a holiday, but there was a fair on the way back to the train station and they had fun there.
It was not quite like a fair here, but there was a ferries wheel that had a twist…you could have beer and food served to you as you went around…and you could stay on as long as you liked. The crowds were much more pleasant to deal with from the slowly rotating wheel. The kids secure, and happy, ordering juice and nachos, my honey and me enjoying the sounds of a live band, and I even had a small beer.
But before long the smell of the Bratwurst sausages cooking made us hop off, because the supply seemed to be dwindling and we could not have those delivered
Once again we had the harrowing experience of taking our kids through the crowds, most of whom smoked (in fact, many more people smoked all over Europe than here, even in train stations and restaurants, which is just not done anymore in Canada) and were drinking as well. We made it back through the train station, and then onboard to the smaller town of Ijmuiden which is about 20 min by train.
The gardens were amazing, with each front yard the size of a postage stamp but shaped and tended with great care, and flowers EVERYWHERE!
We stayed at the Hotel Prinsenhof, which was a clean and comfortable hotel on a quite street, and walked to the station and back home along a slightly different route, looking for a restaurant. We went with a Greek place that had wonderful soup, which was the perfect finish to Bratwurst and snacks. We had no trouble falling asleep, and the next morning enjoyed a continental breakfast before heading down the road, each child with their own bag on wheels
on the short walk to the fast boat that would take us to the station for our train to Trier, Germany.
Trier is a beautiful town with some ancient Roman runes including the Porta Niger , which is huge and the moment you see it you know why it is called the black gate. You can go inside (for a fee) and see the view of the city stretching out below. (to be continued)