Saturday 8th September
We had wanted to take a boat cruise to Dordrecht but the weather was unkind so opted to stay dry and warm and drive there only a few kms away.
First issue of the day – we couldn’t find a CP that was suitable – the first was full (only two spaces both taken). The second had the entrance blocked off with barriers and the third had roadworks at the turn off and everything we tried to do took us back to the roadworks.
In frustration decided to give Dordrecht a miss.
20 kms down the track of the 83 km drive to our destination there were major roadworks and closure of the freeway and not being able to read Dutch, we missed the detour instructions (apparently). Our SatNav very kindly took us back to Dordrecht and after travelling over 50 kms did a cross country detour of another 95kms to our next CP – a very frustrating driving day.
Travelling by road in this country has not been fun. Traffic is congested most of the day and the bikes and bikeways have been a challenge to say the least. We are always very happy to reach our destinations and in many cases could have had a stiff drink to settle the nerves. Even walking around presents problems with the narrow one lane roads being shared by cars, buses, pedestrians and thousands of cyclists – everything seems to have priority over vehicles.
My driver claims he has more chance of being “cleaned up” by a cyclist when walking than being “cleaned up” by a car when driving.
Our campsite for tonight: Camperplaats Oirschot – GPS 51.499840. E5.321920
Glad to get off the busy freeways for a while, we travelled down tree lined avenues to an oasis. What a joy this place is. Beautiful gardens and shrubs, peaceful and quiet and only a 10 minute walk or shorter bike ride into the village.
This is the village where Marie-Louise and Robert lived until they moved to Poland 11 years ago.
We have partial sunshine now so quickly headed out to explore.
Dropped into the tourist office in the old town hall (Oude Raadhuis) and picked up a map “Footsteps around Oirschot” a walking tour around the village. The walking route took us through the historical centre where all buildings cannot change their appearance and are under strict rules to keep it as a protected village.
The streets are just beautiful from the pavements, the varied tiles, the trees, the lampposts, hedges and walls. Oirschot is a town with so much character with the renovated shop fronts and buildings keeping the look of the 1300’s.
Across from the town hall is the market square which is being set up for a concert tomorrow. Overlooking the market square is the most impressive building, Sint Petrus Basilica originally built in 1238, burnt down in 1462 and rebuilt and restored over many years.
So many quaint shops with olde wares, ceramics, candles and so much more displayed in their picture perfect windows. Inspiring to say the least.
Our last stop for the day took us to Brouwerij Vandeoirsprong (Oirshot Beer Brewery) – what a remarkable old building and the busiest place in town. The outside courtyard featured tables made out of old beer barrels and a mixture of flower baskets and every old container you could find turned the area into a cool shaded place for those rare summer days!
Inside, beer barrels of all kinds made up walls, bar areas and even the light fittings were glass beer barrels – so much interest and charm.
The place was packed and after having a couple of their own brews we had dinner – delicious three course dinner – soup, meat dish and creme brûlée – for only €10 and then waddled back home.
Sunday 9th September
Headed back into the village this morning to check out the fun activities in the market square.
It is Monument Day today with lots of activities happening all around The Netherlands.
The market square was cordoned off and stalls erected. Bit like a country fair with jumping castles for the kids and all the restaurants packed round the square listening to the jazz bands playing throughout the square. The party finishes at 8pm tonight but we did not stay that long.
Our campsite for tonight: Camperplaats Ittervoort – GPS N51.175789. E5.822250
Interim stopover before spending time in Maastricht. Great little CP in a rural setting with all the trimmings including Internet. Very peaceful and quiet so enjoyed just sitting, relaxing and reading in some sunshine which has been rare during our stay in The Netherlands.
Neat little town but no historic buildings but great stopover for the night.
Monday 10th September
Lots of new roads which were not on our SatNav so driver and Ziggy had a few moments of anguish.
Saw an accident for the first time in a very long time. A truck moved over a lane on the freeway but obviously did not see the little red car beside it. Took the red car with it sideways for what seemed forever. Happened right in front of us and I held my breath hoping the car would not roll. Fortunately there was a paddock on the side which the car eventually got pushed into but still on four wheels – certainly takes the wind out of you for a while.
My driver sensed it was about to happened and had started braking before the two vehicles had even made contact otherwise the results could have been different.
Finally found the CP we were looking for but opted not to stay – it was too far away from the sights we wanted to see in Maastricht. Maastricht is a massive town with only one point of interest for us to visit and explore so went straight there.
Bought a combined ticket to see Fort Sint Pieter and the Fort Caves and Tunnels. Our English speaking guide Wilhelm was super and would suggest if you visit here to make sure you ask for him.
So energetic, funny, entertaining and passionate with so much knowledge to share with us which made this visit unbelievably fantastic.
The city has over 8000 underground limestone passages along a 14km long network of defence tunnels. Artists have created charcoal paintings on the limestone walls along the way.
These tunnels run into Belgium and were used to escape from Holland during WW11. The Fort is well preserved and parts have been restored to its 1701 appearance. There is so much history here to see.
In summary Holland was an interesting country with many sights to see, very friendly people, but overcrowded and seemed to be about 25% more expensive than Germany when buying food, drinks and staying in Stellplatz – but certainly a must to see.
Thank you Marie-Louise and Robert for all your help.