Ruby the campervan has moved just over half an hour down the road to a new campsite, we are now at Camping de Liede on the outskirts of Haarlem. Haarlem was once the brewing capital of Holland so it seemed like a good place to spend a day exploring! We were up quite early and had a simple breakfast of porridge, a first time for us trying the instant porridge cups in Lidl, where you just add hot water. At 45p each there are a cheap and easy breakfast and require minimal washing up, so perfect for quick getaway mornings such as today.
The weather was lovely and so we set off with a real spring in our step, looking forward to exploring a new area, even if it was only just down the road. We passed the queue for Keukenhof, wow, it is a popular place! Again, I’d say try and avoid driving- cycling there is the way forward!
A quick stop at an ATM in Haarlem and we were at our campsite, again just before 11:00 – luckily the man let us on with no problems. He was much more laid back than the lady at the previous campsite, saying basically we could park wherever and however we like. We went and settled the bill, and unloaded our bikes, and set off for a cycle to the centre, just 20 mins, or 4 km away.
We soon arrived at the centre of Haarlem, a pretty little square with interesting looking buildings and a lovely church tower. The sun was well past the yard arn so I dragged Keith for a pint ( he took a lot of persuading 😉) at a cool place I’d seen online. It’s called Jopen and is in a church but now is a microbrewery and they have a large selection of home brewed beer, some using recipes from the 1400s when Haarlem was all about brewing. It was really cool inside, although we couldn’t sit inside with Jazz, luckily it was glorious sunshine so we sat in their beer garden, watched the world go by and had a couple of rather strong and absolutely delious beers accompanied by the local bar snack, bitterballen- a delicious fried ball served with local mustard. Yum.
Feeling ever so slightly tipsy, we left the bar and took a wander around the rest of the town. It’s really pretty and has a trendy feeling about it but is much quieter than Amsterdam, which is only 15 km away! There are lots of little canals running through the side streets and a picture perfect windmill on the main river. The main river is full of boats, differing in size, some small rowing boats, many larger, more expensive day boats. It has a very European feel here, there are loads of nice looking places to eat and drink, and we really enjoyed spending a few hours wandering. We found a brilliant cheese shop and picked up some amazingly mature cheese, so brought rather a lot in our drunken state, she ended up vacuum packing half of it!
On our arrival back to Ruby, the sun was still shining so we decided to get the chairs and table out and have a Pot of Earl Grey and the rest of the Stooplewaffels. They are just so delicious, we hope to buy some more before we go home!
As the sun went down it became chillier so we showered and moved inside. The facilities on site are pretty good, although they have a strange system of 4 showers all set at different temperatures- no individual control on each shower. Despite us being very close to Schipol airport, airline noise is minimal – in fact we enjoyed watching them come into land. (I’ll just fetch our anoraks now! 😂)
Dinner was Chicken and ham risotto with saffron from my camping cookbook, oh it was delicious and perfect for Ruby as it only needed one pan. We had an early ish night, all this cycling and fresh air always makes us so tired!
Monday dawned with the usual pitter patter on the roof you may expect on bank holiday! Never mind, it’s a travel day for us, we had a bit of a lay in before cooking a full English breakfast to see us through the day (who am I kidding!) and hitting the road. We took the scenic route from Haarlem towards Lisse, passing through Hillegom on the 208, to try and catch some more fields of tulips. Having now travelled a fair few miles in this area we reckon the best batch is directly around Keukenhof. We pulled in and took a couple of pics and brought some more Stooplewaffels for home along with a novelty wooden clog to hang on my shed at home with some tulip bulbs. Hehe.
Onwards towards the Hook of Holland for our afternoon crossing. Check in closed at 1:30pm so we arrived at 1:00pm thinking we would need 15 mins like at Calais to sort Jazz’s passport out. We couldn’t find any signs of the pet passport area so went on to the check in area (no queue!) asked where to take Jazz. The lady said, I deal with that here. We passed over the 3 passports and she passed us a micro chip scanner, which we used, and within a minute we were on our way onto the ferry. Exceptional. And opens the question why doesn’t the eurotunnel do it like this?
Unfortunately I can confirm Jazz is NOT a fan of the ferry however. As soon as he realised where he was he began shaking so much he couldn’t even bark 😞😞😞 I had to man up and be strong as we left him for 7 hours in the kennel. He’s got water and blankets so will be fine.
So here we are, somewhere on the sea between Harwich and Holland. What a fabulous bank holiday weekend we have had! For anyone thinking Holland is too far for a mini break, we totally beg to differ. Budget wise, we are fairly sure we’ve spent less than bank holiday onsite in U.K. Site fees come in at €50; fuel, just over a quarter of a tank, door to door; Ferry £200 (with Tesco vouchers making up the rest) Keunkenhof €16 each, €20 on beers in town.
This has been our first 3 night trip in Ruby and we are chuffed to bits with her. Happy days. More adventures to come later this month with our annual pilgrimage up to Scotland.
Until next time