Travel Log – April 2019

Day 1

We started the day with a 5K run… well kind of. We took part in the GungHo 5k – a 5k run with obstacles. Reuben spent the morning with nanna and grandad chilling out. After a quick shower and change, we loaded the car with any remaining items, and took to the road.

This was supposed to be a Bongo road trip, but our Bongo needs major surgery, so had to remain in the garage for the work to be done. We hope to collect it on our return, ready for our next adventure.  So for now, we are heading off in the car and taking our tent with us.  The boys remain excited and I hope for some sunshine – or at least the dry weather for a week. We can only hope!!!

We arrived in Hull just before 5.30pm and check in was a breeze. We drove straight through after a quick check and as boarding had commenced at 4.30pm, we were straight on the ferry and straight to our room. I have to say, this is so much easier than flying, and is fast becoming our new norm. That’s not to say we will never fly again – we are already flying in October,  but the differences and the ease of the ferry and cruise lines is more apparent each time we travel.

We did a little unpack, as we literally have our clothes for tomorrow with us, and had a little tour of the ferry. This is a different ship to the last one but pretty similar, so we had an idea of what to expect. We headed to the all you can eat buffet for food, as it was already 6pm by this point.  The kind lady did us a deal and booked Reuben in as an under 3, which meant we did not pay for him. You can pay for dinner only, or dinner and breakfast – which we thought we would need.

The boys loved the opportunity to choose whatever food they wanted, and in fairness chose well, with Reuben having chicken and veg, and Isaac opting for gammon, yorkshire pud, and veg.  Damian and I both chose a variety of curry dishes – with a beer of course.

After food, Reuben in particular was sleepy, so I headed back to the room with him for a read, while Isaac and his daddy enjoyed one last drink while watching the ships pass by in the night.  We then all fell asleep, ready for the adventures of the day ahead.

Day 2

After a reasonable night sleep, we were woken this morning by the early morning wake up call on the ferry at 7am. This was despite the fact that our clocks said 6am, as the clocks changed overnight and we moved to Holland time.  Reuben was still a little sleepy, so rose a little later. Once awake and dressed, we headed for breakfast and the boys enjoyed some porridge, but Isaac headed back for a pancake and sausage.

After breakfast we headed to the play area to run off some energy, before awaiting the call to head back to the car.  The adventure continues….

We left the ferry and set up the sat nav. The trip to the campsite was relatively easy and we located the campsite first time. Our first impression is that this is a great site and we are really pleased with where we are staying. We did ask to move spaces however as the first one more for the Bongo. The staff were very helpful and we moved to another spot which suited us much better.

After setting up camp, helped by Isaac and Reuben, we had a little explore of the site. We located the toilet and shower block, which is always useful. We also located the swimming pool, much to the boys delight, and headed to  the shop to buy some lunch. At the reception area, the boys found a play area, with climbing wall and soft play!

We ate lunch in the glorious sunshine and following a recommendation, we headed to the beach. As it was so sunny, it was packed, so we parked a little further out and decided to cycle for icecream.  The boys did have other ideas though and took to the sea pretty much fully clothed. They enjoyed splashing around, even if it was a tad cold! The beach was amazing, armed with restaurants and bars, each with a little play area outside and the beach was beautiful and clean.

Once it hit tea time, we decided to eat at one of the beach restaurants – it was perfect for Reuben as it had a “snack” menu. We also managed a cold beer.  It really was warm outside so we ate inside to cool down. We had also promised the boys a swim at the camp site, so motivated by this, they cycled back, navigating the Danish roads, and the infrastructure in place for cyclists. We were very impressed.

The boys quickly changed into  their swim kit once back at site, and we entered the pool. It was reasonably quiet, so perfect for these two, who immediately took to the lighthouse slide and the climbing wall water squirter.  Finally worn out (well almost), we headed back to base, snuggled up in sleeping bags and settled for the night.  We have certainly had an adventurous first day and can’t wait for the rest of the week. 

Day 3

We had a bit of a late start this morning, with the boys catching up on some lost sleep, so we had a lazy morning with croissants, followed by some porridge for the boys.

Following a recommendation from a waiter at the beach, we headed to Leiden just before lunch. We didn’t stay long as we had promised the boys a trip to the beach again while it was sunny. But it was certainly a good recommendation. We explored the little town, based around the canals and spotted some windmills in the process. The boys enjoyed looking around the sites before they became hungry and in need of more of an adventure.

As agreed, we headed back to the campsite and took our bikes along the cycle paths of the Netherlands. It was a little scary at first with small people in tow, but the boys were brilliantly behaved and rode so well. The cycle paths are easy (ish) to navigate and although it was around 5Km to the beach, the boys cycled with ease.

On arrival at the beach, we stopped at a different spot than last time and near a new bar.  The beach was much emptier than yesterday – particularly as it was now a Monday, rather than a weekend. So the boys pretty much had the beach to themselves. This meant we could park ourselves at the bar and grab a quick beer while they played. The boys loved every second of having the beach to themselves and made the most of getting as sandy and mucky as possible. To hear their laughter was just brilliant. They were running up the mini dunes, and dabbing their toes in the water – but it was even too cold for these two crazy nutcases.

After an hour or so though the weather changed very quickly and it became foggy and cold on the sea front. With a five minute warning given the boys had their last run around, before we wrapped them in warm towels and headed inside the bar for hot chocolate – complete with biscuit. The staff even lowered the front, which was previously open, so that we were kept warm. Fires were lit inside and we were very toasty.  Had we not needed to get home, we may perhaps have stayed longer. We were worried with the weather though, so decided to head back.  Once away from the sea front the sun remained out, so we were able to head home safely and reasonably warm. With one small wrong turn only, we made it back to our campsite. As it was getting late, we decided to eat at the snack shack at the campsite restaurant/cafe. The food was lovely and we would definitely recommend it.

As the boys still insisted they had a little energy left, we all headed to the pool for a late evening swim. The boys played in the pool, around the splash zone, and headed down the slide, before it was time for a shower.  You are not allowed to shower at the pool, so we headed over to the shower block for lovely hot showers before bed. As the boys fell asleep finally after a long day, we had a quick read, before also falling asleep, to the sound of the planes flying over head. Rest was definitely needed ready for even more adventure tomorrow as we aim to visit Amsterdam!

Day 4

With some late nights happening, late mornings occur. This is fine and we have gotten used to Isaac rising a little earlier, and Reuben finally awakening around an hour later. Damian’s first job was to head to the shop and pick up warm croissants – which Reuben insisted on helping him with. Isaac and I got our things ready for the day, as we decided to head to Amsterdam on the train. Fully fuelled after snacks and porridge, we headed to Sassenheim to catch the train. With the Sat Nav programmed in, the train station was easy to locate, and parking was free. The ticket machine spoke in English, so we were ready to go. Children travel for $2.50 which is just a bargain. You also then have to validate your ticket once purchased – so worth remembering!

We found seats relatively easy and sat together watching the views go by.

We arrived in Amsterdam and spotted the Ibis Hotel where we had previously stayed, so were able to get some bearings. We decide to take to the water first and get some sights in, so boarded a sightseeing boat which took us round the canals for about an hour. The sun was shining and it was a lovely setting for us to relax, have some drinks and snacks and take in the views.

After the boat trip, we took a walk around the town centre, we had hoped for pancakes for lunch, but the queue was just too big. Instead we found a lovely local park and the boys played while we mapped out what to do next and where to go for the rest of the week.  Food in Amsterdam was mainly anything with chips – and for obvious reasons we wanted to avoid anything known as a coffee house, as we were not sure what to expect. The smell is enough to make you keep walking past!

We kept it safe and headed to the UPassage in the train station which is a min shopping centre also filled with restaurants. So we opted for Wagamamas as we knew we could eat healthily here.  However, on the way to Wagamamas, we did spot the most amazing waffles – with a variety of toppings, so took one each as take out, for after our healthy meal!!! We decide to eat half of our waffle on the train home.

The station was once again reasonably easy to navigate and we were almost on our train, when a friendly local advised us that our train had actually moved platform. What a lovely person to tell us. We moved to the correct platform and boarded our train home. It took a different route from the train in, so we were able to see different parts on the way out.

Once back at camp, the boys headed to the park, while we packed away from today, and repacked for tomorrow. The played so well and were beautifully behaved looking after each other, so they played until well after the usual bedtime. Finally they were ready to drop, so PJ’s on, and onesies over the top, they were wrapped into sleeping bags while the sun went down and it started to get dark. It also seems that this is the time of night when every plane possible passes over head of our tent and this campsite.  With the boys once again asleep, tired but happy with a days adventure, we head for a read and plan to hit another town tomorrow Lisse for a boat trip and perhaps back to Leiden for what is described as the biggest Dutch pancakes. Well, let’s see what happens….

Day 5

The boys woke around 8.30am, and Reuben headed to collect warm croissants from the shop with his daddy. Once we were up and dressed we headed straight out as we had another adventure day planned. Our picnic was packed and we headed towards a small town called Lisse. We had seen a leaflet advertising a boat trip around the town and thought this would be a great way to explore with small people. So we found the ticket office and set off location and parked up. We boarded the boat and ordered our snacks and drinks for the journey.

The boat trip is an hour and half which takes you round Lisse over the Kager Lakes where you can see the windmills and villages. The views are stunning and shows exactly what a beautiful place Holland is. The boys even got chance to stir the boat, which they loved.

After the boat trip, we headed to Keukenhof, which I assume is similar to Chelsea Flower Show (although I have never been). The Keukenhof is open only for around 8 weeks of the year, so we were lucky to hit the open window. The Keukenhof is described as the international and independant shop window of the Dutch floriculture. This year’s theme was flower power, and although we are no where near gardeners, this array of displays did not disappoint.

After a short stroll, we stopped in the picnic area for lunch This is a specific area for eating and hosts a number of tables with hay barrel seating. There are also a number of eateries dotted around the place all serving a variety of food and drink.

Along with the flower shows, there was a huge area for the boys to explore, with a maze, petting zoo and park to name but a few areas. The boys got chance to pet a sheep, and annoy some goats along the way. The boys also entertained themselves by making up stories along the way and following the many footpaths to embark on their own adventures.

Once the boys had exhausted themselves on the park, we had agreed to head to Leiden once again to sample the biggest pancakes! The place did not disappoint us. We went to Oudt Leyden and not only do they have a huge choice of pancakes on the menu, they truly are the biggest pancakes we have eaten so far. Isaac opted for T-Rex –  a pancake with sugar and sweets, made to look like the head of a dinosaur. Damian and I opted for more savoury options with ham and cheese and bacon and egg – on arrival we decide to split them all, as Reuben was a little sleepy – until he saw T-Rex!!! The pancakes were fab and we would highly recommend finding this place on your travels.

Although somewhat tired, the boys still had enough energy to ask to go swimming once we got back to camp. So with bedtime pending, we took the boys for a final swim before they put their PJs on. Both boys are getting increasingly confident in the water, with Reuben going down the slide, now with no goggles on, and swimming to the side, and Isaac starting to learn to dive in. We thought they were all out of energy by the time we returned to  the tent, but they still had a little bit left in them to ask for a story. So one story, teeth cleaned and wrapped up warm, they fell asleep, while Damian managed a quick beer before heading back with chips to warm us through. Time for sleep, ready for our penultimate adventure tomorrow, where we head to another town, and hopefully another beach and fun day.

Day 6

Our day started in the usual fashion of this holiday – a late start and warm croissants. We had promised the boys our usual Easter Holiday Egg Hunt, and so off they went finding chicks, bunnies and eggs around the campsite. Happy boys!

We then packed up and headed to Der Haag and to Sherv…….
I’d read in Lonely Planet mixed reviews of the place but Der Haag is the third largest city in Holland and the beach is long!

We found the beach area relatively easy and parking was vast, if expensive at around $20 for the day. We had the bikes and Isaac had wanted to use his Go Pro to film his bike riding, so we headed down towards the harbour and the “end of the world” where the lighthouse stood. It was extremely windy, but as we have discovered throughout Holland, easy to navigate and clear bike paths make it safe to travel in this way.

On the way back from the lighthouse we stopped at the local surf shop and picked some surf necklaces for the boys before they decided they needed to refuel. We chose a brilliant surf type cafe and ordered cheese toasties and burgers. Unfortunately, Reuben dropped his necklace down the slats and underneath the surf cafe. He was most upset – and I’m sure he had had it around 10 mins tops. With some explorative skills, Isaac and his daddy located and very small opening which led to underneath the cafe. In an attempt to save the day and truly become Reuben’s hero, Isaac set off underneath the cafe and crawled in the sand to locate the necklace. We cheered him on from above and inside the cafe. Triumphant he returned beaming, to a running hug and a huge thank you for his little brother. He really was a hero and saved the day.

We spent some time relaxing from the drama with food and drink before embarking on the next leg of our bike ride. This took us up to the populated area of the seafront and was akin to the likes of Blackpool, with its many eateries and drinking establishments. We locked our bikes and took a walk along the inside pier which has been beautifully converted to quite posh food and drink emporiums.  Reuben was keen to have an icecream so we stopped by and indulged in a local icecream. We also watched a crazy lady bungee jump from above over the sea. Isaac decided he didn’t want to do it, but Reuben was up for the challenge – we did stop him.

We thought at this point that it was only appropriate to complete our usual holiday ritual and sightsee from the local ferris wheel. We have done this in several countries now, so bought tickets for the one in Holland. We took some pictures and saw the sights from above.

After the wheel, we headed back to the car, as we had promised the boys a trip to the beach. A quick change and they were ready for action. Bat and ball in hand we headed to the beach. We checked out a few restaurants for tea, and the choice really did depend on the outdoor play area – each restaurant on the beach has its own outdoor play area, so we tested a few on the way. We settled for another surf cafe – Aloha, where we were once again able to purchase “snacks”. We had a variety of tapas style meals which we were able to share. This also provided so many different sauces that the boys took part in a special taste test to see which they liked and didn’t like – blind testing of course, which they really enjoyed.

So, after a fun penultimate day, we headed back to the campsite, wrapped ourselves up and after a short story, the boys fell asleep. We packed some of our things ready for the morning, as we need to take the tent down and set off on our final day, before our journey home begins. Although, it’s our last day, we are still hoping to see some more sights tomorrow and have a fun night on the ferry before arriving home on Saturday. It’s certainly a cold night tonight, but we are prepared and somewhat sleepy, so hopefully those planes won’t keep us awake too long!

Day 7

After packing up most of our things last night, we rose this morning and we grateful for a dry morning to pack the tent away. Our usual morning ritual applied even on our last day, where we bought warm croissants from the shop. Once we had eaten these the tent dismantling commenced. Reuben decided he was a little tired so sat warm in the car, snuggled eating porridge. Isaac demolished his porridge quickly and was a huge help taking the tent down, which meant we were ready quick time.  This also meant we had time for a swim before leaving the site. The boys have really loved the swimming pool, even though it was little cold for me!

Although the campsite was really lovely and friendly, it probably isn’t the best site for a tent. The planes go past late at night and again early in the morning and are low flying meaning the noise really is quite loud. The majority of people on the camp site at this time of year have motor homes or caravans of some description. Also the noise from the fields and the plant machinery early in the morning is reasonably loud in a tent. The campsite is brilliant, the facilities are great and the staff friendly. The campsite hosts a great shop, snack bar and restaurants and the toilets and showers are clean every day. The park is fantastic, as is the pool, and I’m sure in summer the outside pool would host hours of fun, but for me, the noise in a tent is too much for me to return without the camper! That said, I would return again.

After a swim, we had planned to go to Gouda – we all wanted to go to the place where one of the best cheeses is made. So sat nav programmed in, we headed towards the town. On parking, we found ourselves in the centre of Gouda. As it was lunchtime we considered it more than appropriate to sample the local Gouda. We headed to a beautiful restaurant where we were able to sit outdoors, but also were kept warm with the lit fires and blankets provided. Damian even ordered Gouda soup! The food was lovely and the place was very relaxing. We were sat in the main square and able to watch the world go by, eating nice food and keeping warm.

The square is similar to others were have visited in Europe and was a lovely place to explore – the boys in particular enjoyed chasing pigeons as their current favourite past time. We walked a little further around the town to discover more canal routes and pretty little streets. It certainly is a stunning little town. And of course, no trip to Gouda would be complete, without purchasing the local delicacy. So we bought a few varieties of Gouda ready for our weekend snacks.

It was then time to make our final journey home. The trip around the Rotterdam Port seemed to take forever and the place is absolutely huge – although we knew we weren’t far from our destination when we saw a sign for “Engeland 1km”. We followed the signs and found our ferry terminal. Once again check in was reasonably straight forward and around 5.30pm, we had boarded the ship. We found our cabin, which this time has a window we were able to look out of – this was a first. A quick unpack ready for the morning, and we followed our final ritual of our ferry cruises and headed to the all you can eat buffet. Finally, with bellies full and sleepy heads, we changed and settled for the night, falling asleep to the sights of the sea, leaving Rotterdam behind and heading home to Hull. We have had a brilliantly wonderful adventurous holiday, spending time together as a family, learning about and visiting lots of different places and having fun in so many different places. Our lust for travel and adventure continues and we can’t wait to see where we end up next.

Things we have learnt about Holland: 
1) It is very picturesque
2) There are real life windmills
3) It is relatively easy to navigate – with the help of the sat nav