After leaving Norway, I have found myself with time to spare to make it to the ferry and back to the UK.
The unfortunate part is that I didn’t have much interest in the areas I was to be travelling through and so, had to find things to do. The Landy decided to help occupy some time also!
I took a look at the map and simply picked places that may be of interest and that were in the general direction of Dunkirk.
First; Amsterdam. This required a long run from the top to the bottom of Denmark, and then through Germany to the Netherlands.
After a couple of days I was on the outskirts of Amsterdam, in quite a nice rest area that I figured would be sufficient for the night. However, it seemed that a good size population of single men also frequented this area.
At first when there were a couple of guys wandering around, I figured they were just resting as was I. Some suspicions of some other activity came when I noticed that on occasion, these chaps would disappear into a nearby woodland area, either following or, followed by other gentlemen. Ah! A rendezvous point for salacious activity it seems!
This went on until quite late in the night, even when flashlights were required for them to continue.
I remained firmly locked in the Landy, with curtains closed for the remainder of the night!
In the morning I was alone again.
The easiest manner to get into Amsterdam it seems is by making use of the Park and Ride system they have. And it’s very easy and cheap.
There are a few car parks that are off the main outer roads and they are all connected to the town centre by tram.
The Tram is €5 for a return and so long as you check out of the town centre area using the chipped ticket then the parking is only €1.
It’s simple and straightforward you just need to remember the tram number and station for the car park.
Amsterdam is a nice town. It lives up to it’s reputation, as you walk around the old town there are plenty of opportunities for window shopping so to speak with the semi clothed ladies in the windows all beckoning you in, and enticing you to part with your cash in return for a thrill.
The other shops are coffee shops that will sell hashish, and then the shops that have a whole range of implements of carnal pleasure that on a couple of occasions took me a while to figure out which way up, and how they should be used!
Away from these establishments, Amsterdam is a nice town, it has it’s old shopping arcades that remind me of the areas around Covent Garden in London and it has it’s picturesque canal routes.
It also has it’s historic areas and more modern shopping facilities.
It only took a few hours to see the main areas of interest for me so by about lunchtime I left.
This part of the journey only lasted a few miles however; a rumbling had started from one of the front wheels, this grew louder and then over about 10 miles it had reached a definite crescendo of the unmistakable grinding of unhappy metal against very unhappy metal.
Wheel bearing failure. Damn!
Just outside Utrecht I tried to change the bearing myself, but it had seized. I have an EU breakdown and recovery service with my insurance and am very glad that I have, they arranged the recovery, a hotel room for the night, and for a garage to affect the repair. It wasn’t totally seamless and I think every step along the way had to be re worked, however, I didn’t have the headache of determining the recovery company and garage, and the hotel is part of my cover, I just needed to pay for the repair.
Bearing in mind it was a Land Rover main dealer it was repaired the following day and only cost €200 for the repair. Just 2 hours work.
I’m not sure the bearing rollers should have flat spots!
I was on my way again and heading for Bruges.
Parking in Bruges is not as easy as Amsterdam! There are underground cap parks with a max height of 2mtrs, that won’t do. There are overground car parks that require a ‘European parking disc’ (new thing on me, I’m sure I live in Europe and have never heard of that). Or there are ‘peripheral’ parking areas that I couldn’t really find out much about.
So after trundling around the ring road trying to find somewhere to park, I stopped in a peripheral place and hoped for the best.
Bruges is a lovely town. Quaint, colourful, ‘art deco’ apparently. All I know is that I liked it. Granted I was there early so not much was open and as with most towns I only had a tolerance of a couple of hours before getting bored, but if I was to plan to go there for a weekend then there is plenty to do and see.
I got back to the car, it was ticketless so I have to assume I made an ok choice to park there.
After leaving Bruges, I made way via the coastal route towards Dunkirk.
I stopped at a small place called Middelkerke just south of Oostende, lovely empty beach, not a lot of traffic so simply passed the time there for a while, had a few walks on the beach and watched the world and ships go by.
I catch the ferry home tomorrow, which effectively brings this particular part of my blog to a close.
I’ve thoroughly loved these three weeks, they feel a lot longer, and, if I didn’t need to I could easily stay trundling onwards for longer. One thing is for sure, I very much enjoy my own company, not sure why others don’t quite so much though!
I will be planning another journey soon, not sure where to as yet, but that’ll come in good time.
As for now though, as it’s in my mind and, as it’s my next destination, I’m really looking forward to getting home.