Wednesday 5th September
Our campsite for tonight: Parking, Leiden – GPS N52.159592. E4.478440
Not the best CP we have stayed at but it gets a 10 for location to the heart of an amazing town. It is a mixed parking area with an allocated space for Mohos – but right next to a road (though not busy) and beside that a train track with regular high speed electric trains doing regular runs. Didn’t interrupt our sleep though so was quiet during the evening.
They provide free shuttles right at front gate into anywhere you want to go in the city – a real bonus. Took the shuttle into the heart of downtown where the Wednesday markets were in full swing.
Mostly fresh fruit and of course cheese, fish and other fresh items for sale.
Believe there are 28kms of canals in this town and numerous boat companies eager to take you for guided canal tours.
We opted to walk it and crossed so many canals, over quaint little bridges and along street after street of interesting apartment blocks and houses.
It amazes us that in any one street one finds it hard to see any three storey building that look similar. All different shapes and roof lines make for some wonderful pictures.
Stopped in the heart of downtown at a cross street for some lunch and watched thousands of bikes pass by – all heading in different directions and competing with cars and buses – “organised chaos” my driver said. So many different types of bikes here and the most interesting are the three wheelers where there is a child cart at the front on two wheels with the third wheel at the back. Here the children sit – some with seat belts and we had seen up to four children in one cart, some with dogs as well. Did not see one accident or near miss – everybody just seems to know what they are doing?
The weather is still not great with constant showers throughout the day but happily staying away long enough to be able to venture out.
Loved the Molenmuseum de Valk which is a large windmill museum towering over the city and the historic 12th century Pieterskerk in the Latin Quarter – really worth a visit.
Thursday 6th September
Rained throughout the night and the weather was just awful. The road systems are great but they have to be to accommodate the number of people here. We have found this country to be way too busy and cluttered and at times scary on the road.
Our campsite for tonight: Klein Amerika, Gouda – GPS N52.011822. E4.715400
The CP again is a mixed car park but quiet with an area set aside for Mohos. This one has services for waste and water (Leiden did not) and some pitches (about 12) even have electric points (for the early birds).
Today is market day in Gouda and with the market closing at midday, we quickly put on the rain gear and walked the short few minutes into the square. A large market with not only cheeses, meats and food stalls but lots of clothes stalls as well.
Soon got drenched so headed back to change, warm up and then try to venture out again.
Rain squalls began to clear mid afternoon so headed out again – warmer this time and armed with more rain gear.
Another great town to visit with picturesque canals and cobble stoned streets and wonderful ceramic shops.
The Town Hall is a feature of the square. Originally built in 1438 and rebuilt after the great fire of 1552, it is an amazing building which now features a carillon with mechanical puppets added in 1961.
Almost directly behind the Town Hall stands the magnificent Sint Janskerk originally built in 1552. It is the longest church at 123 metres and is really worth a visit.
After an hour or two our exploring was cut short again with rain sending us scampering back home.
Friday 7th September
Travelled through more rain for most of this journey.
Our campsite for tonight: Camperpark Kinderdijk, Alblasserdam – GPS N51.859711. E4.658160
Great CP right on the waters edge at a small marina. Good facilities and only a short walk across the pedestrian bridge to the town.
Rain had cleared leaving a typical European day – dull and overcast with the wind blowing a gale.
Ventured across the pedestrian bridge into town. Very little to see or do here but we stumbled across the A/V guys setting up a floating stage on the canal which would host a concert on the following evening. Huge amount of audio was being set up so can imagine it would have been a blast.
Waited a couple of hours hoping the wind would subside – it didn’t so headed off on the bikes anyway a few kms away to the windmills of Kinderdijk.
These can be reached by foot, bike or boats and are the largest number of working windmills in any one place in this country.
We have now seen many of the things Holland is most famous for – clogs, cheese, windmills and ceramics.