I left Noordgouwe early this morning, and drove up North to Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands.
It took about 90 minutes to get there, and I parked in one of the city’s Park and Ride car parks, just a short distance from the A10, Amsterdam’s version of the M25 – and just a couple of stops from the City Centre by tram.
I had breakfast (hot chocolate and a croissant), then my first stop of the day was the Royal Palace. I prebooked my ticket online so got straight in, no queueing! It was quite interesting to hear about the history of the Dutch royal family and of the building itself, once the Town Hall of Amsterdam.
I travelled around the city using the hop-on hop-off bus – with a set of headphones I could plug in to the audio system to hear what we were driving past. Known as ‘the Venice of the North’, there were plenty of things to see from the bus.
I got the bus round to the Dutch Resistance Museum – quite interesting and another free audio-tour explans what you’re looking at. It also nicely set things up for my next stop on the bus tour: The Anne Frank House.
I pre-booked this too – always a good idea to do. General admission isn’t open until after 15:30 but the queue was back along the street at least half an hour beforehand. With my pre-booked ticket, I could skip the queues and get in at 14:00.
From the Anne Frank House I continued the bus tour back to the Central Station, then transferred on to the boat. I’d done one full circuit of the bus tour, getting off at various locations for museums, food, etc. Now I did one full circuit on the boat tour – just to sit down and enjoy the journey.
It took about 2 hours and passed many of the things I’d seen from the bus, but offered views from a different perspective and the audio tour went in to a lot of detail about the city’s canal system.
On my return to the starting point I took the opportunity to wander round the shops, some souvenier and gift buying. In the rain, I didn’t particularly feel like sticking around for long so I returned on the tram to the car, paid my €1 parking fee, and got back on the road.
Getting back to the car at 18:45, my journey back was in the dark, but not too bad (although 6 lane motorway interchanges a little confusing, especially when the Dutch aren’t the most disciplined on the motorway – not in the same way as the Germans).
I was safely back in Noordgouwe by 20:30 – just in time for Top Gear and SS-GB: BBC1 and BBC2 are standard channels on the Dutch cable TV provider, alongside Germany’s ARD and ZDF.
A whole day of driving ahead tomorrow. Going to stop in Cadzand, near the Dutch/Belgian border. Had considered stopping at Bruges once in Belgium, as I’ll go past it on the way down from Cadzand – but this might be a bit difficult timing-wise etc. (allowing time to get from P+R in to City Centre, it’ll be tight). I’ll probably stop near the French border to double check all documentation and get passport out, ready for the final 45 minute push to Calais and the tunnel back to Folkestone.