It is hard to believe that I have only been on the road a week – it seems longer. I’ve been in four countries but actually only covered 389 miles – it is probably a couple more than that – I was a little late starting the clock.
So distance wise I’ve not got that far but it feels further. I’ve been on backroads all the way apart from home to Folkestone and I’ve only been on one toll road well toll bridge. I’m getting a lot more relaxed driving around – a few nerves through Rotterdam yesterday and driving, what felt like, round in circles through some docklands and when I looked at where the sat nav was sending me it was round in circles!
I think I’m going to concur my fear of bridges by the time I get to THE bridge going into Copenhagen. Though Isabelle from Zierikerzee mentioned corkscrew tunnels in Norway – so maybe I should be more worried about tunnels that bridges. But I’m not going to worry about any of it – I’m going to deal with it all as it comes! And Mum don’t worry for me – it will be OK!
So last time I left you I was heading to Ghent. The campsite there was OK – thank god the sat nav took me there easily – there is no way I would have found it – you had to drive round in rings on a one way system – but I’m putting my trust in tom-tom and so far so good.
The campsite is was at the end of a bus route into town – so that solved the problem of having to remember where to get off. The first views of Ghent on the ride into town weren’t great – it was just a bit grey and bland. But then you hit the historic centre and it was very picturesque. All centred around a few squares and the canal. As we got of the bus, there were a few trams around, which didn’t impress Alf much so we quickly made our way to the side of canal and as ever Alf dragged me into the first bar. I think it helps to acclimatize him – it certainly helps me.
After a rest and a beer we went on a boat trip – I think it is probably Alf’s first trip on a boat. He was good as gold – he even walked on the jetty. For those that don’t know, whenever he has walked on anything vaguely jetty like recently he puts the brakes on – but he seems to bet getting brave – a bit like me!
A 40 minute trip along the canal was good fun and informative – I only just wish I could remember what they told me – where is a Debs when you need one!
What I do remember is how impressed I was that the guide could speak at least 5 languages. It really does put the majority of English people to shame – I’m firmly in that camp. The castle in the centre of Ghent is impressive – more so because it is smack bang in the centre.
The next morning whilst I was researching where to go next – looking for the best place to stop on the way to the flower gardens and Amsterdam – I had a couple of messages on Facebook from Vanessa and Tania suggesting I go to Zierikezee. It was perfect timing – Zierikzee was in the right direction and only an hour or so from Ghent if I took a toll bridge – so that’s where I headed.
It turned out to be a right result. A perfect little campsite run by Guy and Isabelle who are a lovely couple and the small medieval city of Zierikzee was beautiful and full of character – starting with the bridge you walk over to get into, then the canal running up to the square, which whilst overall feels quite modern its got some old building surrounding it with little cobbled streets going off, one which leads you to a windmill. I was surprised to find a windmill in a town as I’d only pictured them in fields.
I also met a lovely lady on the walk from the campsite to the town – who spotted me looking at the map. She walked with me and pointed me in the right direction (which was a straight line from the campsite but some how I still managed to go the wrong way!). She was lovely and invited me into her house for coffee – I said I might on the way back. I didn’t and regretted it afterwards – I wanted to get on the road – but in future I will take these opportunities as the arise. She was really nice and I wish I’d stopped – I say it was because I wanted to get on the road – but it’s also because underneath it all I’m a little shy – I know hard to believe!
Zierikzee was a perfect stop, with the added bonus of meeting a great couple who I could have a chat with and I got a camping field all to myself – well apart from Alf and Beryl of course.
Next stop was the tulip fields – well more precisely a campsite near the Keukenhof Gardens and the start of the flower route. I booked a campsite in advance and its fine – but it is more expensive than others as it caters for the big motorhomes and caravans mainly and has facilities such as pool on site – which I don’t need.
The drive there started out really chilled, driving along the coast and beside canals, long open stretches of road – perfect. That is until I hit a docklands area – as I said at the start of this post. As it was a Sunday it was deserted so it felt a little eery. At one point I had the road flip in front of me so a barge could pass through (Ok that is a slight exaggeration – the barrier went up first and very slowly flipped up), then 5 minutes later another the road lifted up into the sky on a big crane like mechanism to let more barges came through. Then I had to drive through Rotterdam – it was quiet – and the more I do that type of thing the easier it will be.
I’m jumping around bit – sorry! The flower gardens were beautiful – totally awash with colour, every colour combination and type of tulips you could imagine and some you couldn’t Some that had triple flowers and other were more traditional ones – short ones, long ones. It was beautiful. I of course loved all of the purple ones the most, but I also loved the bright oranges, the sunny yellows and the subtle pinks. They had garden beds of single colours, mixed colours, ones all the same height and others with batches of short tulips then long ones. I’ve no idea what the different types were but i took loads of pictures. And lots of people took pictures of Alf – the same thing happened in Brugge – he is very popular Japanese tourists!
After walking round the gardens I went for a drive around and saw fields of tulips growing which to some degree was better than the gardens. I couldn’t find anywhere to stop but I’m sure I will over the next few days. Then I found myself o coastal road so I parked up and had a quick beer in a bar on the front. I didn’t stay long – Alf was exhausted after walking round the gardens so I didn’t want to walk him any further.
That brings us to where I am now – sitting by Beryl, drinking yes another beer (but they are only small ones!) with Alf snoring beside me. It is all pretty damn perfect right now – just how I hoped it would be – I couldn’t possibly have asked for more out of my first week on the road.