Sunday evening arrival in the Netherlands and it suddenly felt like we were back in travel mode. Border Control stopped us briefly to ask if we were carrying any illegal immigrants! We were unsure whether we should joke they all go the other way so just said no and got waved straight through. Very impressed how easy it was to get out of the port at the Hook, straight onto a raised single carriageway with canals running down each side. Plan A to head for an aire on the coast was quickly changed to destination Delft, mainly as we had taken a wrong turn and the signs were showing Delft was only 11 km away.
We followed Sat Nav to a campsite, to find it blocked off at the bridge a few metres before the park, which meant we needed to cross over the motorway and try the other side. We saw another lost motorhome and waved for them to follow us (if we were going to get further lost we were dragging them down with us). As we turned around and headed back down the road we had just driven up several blokes outside the pub all stood making turn-around gestures and laughing, obviously its a very regular occurrence watching motorhomes do three point turns on a fairly narrow lane with cars parked both sides, good we added to the evening entertainment for them :).
When we finally arrived at the campsite we were the head of a queue of four Brits off the ferry (our little convoy from the diversion had grown), Iain went to check-in whilst I stood and listened to a tirade from a Belgian lady who was somewhat unhappy that the Brits were blocking the entrance gate. The British had stolen over an hour and a half from her holiday by “keep blocking the bloody gate every day and I have to bloody queue behind you”. You have to love that even when they are well and truly annoyed every European can speak in perfect English to get the point across. The two guys that had both got out of the motorhomes directly behind us both wandered off fairly sharpish leaving me to apologise on behalf of the British nation. She muttered we would know what she felt like when we were stuck in a queue – I wanted to reiterate we are British, therefore we queue as a national pastime but thought better of it in case we ended up pitched next to her.
Delft, not what we expected at all. A lot of little souvenir shops selling over-priced clogs, Delft printed on everything imaginable and cheese at prices Waitrose would shy away from. All that aside, it was brilliant mainly because its very Dutch! Everyone laid back, everyone friendly and as Iain said it felt we had slipped back into 1970. The shops were a mixture of uber trendy and vintage, it all would have seemed at home in a 1976 disco. We ate in a cafe where the furniture was so circa MFI heyday it would be laughed at in the UK but it all looked well in keeping. In the old town the square was empty, hardly a tourist in sight, we thought it would be packed with trippers in June so were pleasantly surprised to have the town pretty much to ourselves.
If the clogs fit…..
The best shops for us were the cheese shops – for a self confessed cheese addict there is nothing better than tray after tray of free samples. Cheese with all the regular stuff like chillis and cranberries and then some that were a bit new to us such as with asparagus or truffles, although the cheese ‘with baby sheep’ was probably just a bad translation it was one I couldn’t bring myself to taste. We didn’t bother visiting the Delft pottery, we had seen more blue and white china in the square that we thought it was possible to see so we gave the factory tour a miss.
Cheese with pretty much every ingredient we could think of
Highlight of the day (trip?) we finally got to eat proper Kroketten! I developed an addiction for these last time we came to Holland several years ago, beef and potato in sauce covered in bread crumbs, they have to be the perfect snack food. The photo may not do them total justice, the bread was un-necessary. They are the best comfort food ever invented, although we haven’t sampled the other Dutch national comforter in a bona fida coffee shop!!
Waiting for lunch Kroketten 🙂
Whilst we did love that the town is all pedestrianised it’s quite daunting the speed the cyclists ride at. Not talking kids here, the majority of the speed demons would have been well past my age. So many times we have learned to ignore stereotypes but here it does seem that everyone from the age of 3 to 93 rides a bike, most at speeds that would qualify them for the Tour. It is true though that you rarely see a fat Dutch person, well we didn’t see one and we looked all day. Due to the amount of cheese and Kroketten eaten today we will be joining the masses tomorrow out on our bikes to take in some miles of the glorious Dutch cycle network, although we are hoping its the route that goes past the Gouda chocolate factory :).