2018/09/08 – Holland – Oirschot and Maastricht

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.

2 children in this one – we have seen 4 or a couple of dogs or a combination of both

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.

Oirschot Town Hall

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. 

Unusual shop front

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.

Our view from Ziggy in the great Stellplatz

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.

Inside the brewery

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.

Guess which one was mine?

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.

The lonely fisherman in front of Ziggy- he has all the gear including a tackle box that converts in to a seat

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.

Maastricht Underground:

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. 

Wilhelm leading us through the tunnels

So energetic, funny, entertaining and passionate with so much knowledge to share with us which made this visit unbelievably fantastic.

A map of the tunnels in the underground

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. 

One of the charcoal paintings on the tunnel walls

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.

The Fort

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.

At the top of the Fort

Thank you Marie-Louise and Robert for all your help.

2019/09/05 – Holland – Leiden, Gouda and Kinderdijk

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.  

A cheese stall in the market

Mostly fresh fruit and of course cheese, fish and other fresh items for sale.

The Central Market

Believe there are 28kms of canals in this town and numerous boat companies eager to take you for guided canal tours. 

A bar restaurant in one of the canals

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?

A typical street scene – bicycles and no cars

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.

Molenmuseum de Valk

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).

A peaceful canal scene in Gouda

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.  

Another peaceful canal scene

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.

Our CP at the marina near Kinderdijk

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.






2018/08/31 – Holland – windmills, clogs, cheese, bicycles and dykes

Holland – The Netherlands

Holland has a population of around 17 million people but has only a small land mass of 41,526 sq. km a large percentage of which is very flat and below sea level.

Beautiful clogs for sale everywhere

The official language is Dutch, however most people speak very good English as it is taught from an early age at school.

The currency is the Euro.

Wild camping is forbidden, however, several motorhome friendly municipalities have regulated facilities where overnight parking is allowed.

Ready-made joints, cannabis related products, rolling papers, pipes and bongs can be ordered legally in coffee shops, however we decided to stay on our natural high of just being with each other.

Bicycles can be seen in their millions and the Netherlands has more than 32,000 km of dedicated bicycle paths.

The Dutch are the most prolific travellers of any country we have encountered whilst travelling – whether it be NordKap in the far north of Norway, Sounion on the southern tip of Greece or anywhere in between we always saw the yellow number plates with NL and knew we would be able to speak to them in English and get a smile and help in return.

We were not sure where we wanted to go in Holland – we first visited Holland in 1978 but travelled by EuroRail so we were restricted to cities and towns on the rail network – we were not keen to travel to some of the  larger cities we had visited previously, including Amsterdam so decided to ask for help.

Unfortunately the wrong time of the year for the tulip festival

We sent an email to our friends Marie-louise and Robert de Reuver for their assistance – they had lived in the village of Oirschot near Maastrict Holland until they moved to near Skierniewice, Poland around 11 years ago.

They suggested around a dozen places to visit – thank you Marie-Louise and Robert.

Friday 31st August

No sign of any border gates and breezed through into The Netherlands from Germany for the first time this trip.

No toll roads which was a huge plus for Germany and now The Netherlands.  The countryside is very flat and green with lots of wind turbines and solar panels in use to store energy.

Our campsite for tonight:  Camperplaats. de Huurne, Wierden – GPS N52.349861.   E.6.574310

A little country village which borders onto the National Park.  This CP has all the services included in the fee of €10 – electricity, water and wifi a bonus inclusion.  Don’t need electricity because we have super solar panels and leisure batteries but is good to give the leisure batteries a full charge from time to time.

Beautiful rural setting with heaps of space between Mohos.  Even have a fire pit with timber cut and ready to use.  What a temptation as we love nothing more than sitting by a fire under the stars.  Still very wet under foot so this was not a possibility – shame, shame, shame.

Not too crowded at this Camper Stop – don’t have to fight for sites now that summer is over

Chickens were roaming about and even saw the largest hare we have ever seen, scooting across the paddock beside the CP.  A really peaceful, quiet setting, well laid out with tourist information and even offer free parking if you eat at one of the local restaurants in Wierden – a wet 2 km hike through the countryside so opted not to do that this time.

Saturday & Sunday 1st & 2nd September

❤️❤️❤ ️Our campsite for two nights:  Camperplaats Haamstede, Giethoorn – GPS 52.728649.   E6.076620

Giethoorn is affectionately called “the Venice of The North” for very good reasons.  Just an amazing village and a “must see” on your bucket list.

The CP is just great and is set between green pastures and the canals with a bikeway on both sides of the canal.  There are several CPs in the area, but we found this the best as far as location and services – amazing bathrooms.

Gets a bit tight under some of the bridges

Sunshine on both days which made the exploring just wonderful.  Day one we took off on the bikes along the canal where fisherman sat shoulder to shoulder with the longest rods we have ever seen – bit of a hazard for the passing pleasure craft but everyone seemed to work it out.

With the Mecca of canals, comes the draw bridges which have an operator opening and shutting these all day to allow the craft to pass under.  Being a weekend and with a bit of sun, the canals were packed with day trippers in all sorts of weird and wonderful water craft.  The bikeways were really busy and we passed by many marinas in the canal system and small villages along the way.

One of the many draw bridges in the area

Sunday we walked across the drawbridge into the touristy area where there were hundreds of people walking along the waterfront canal area and as many boats were lined up all eager to take the tourists on a canal tour.  Restaurant after restaurant was packed with people and souvenir shops selling clogs (even saw slipper clogs).

On our canal boat tour

You can be part of a canal tour where the boats seat about 30 people and provide a guide giving a commentary or you can hire an electric boat and do the trip yourself.   We elected to do the tour for €7.50 each and sat back and were just totally gob smacked.   The hour trip took us through narrow canals where the beautiful homes all featured thatched roofs and country gardens.  Many of these homes are on small islands with the only access to them via small pedestrian bridges. Many have no cars but a garage that houses a boat – the only way to get to these homes. 

Lovely homes along the canals

People were meandering through these canal streets and enjoying the many trendy restaurants in and around the canals.  Our guide told us there are 1100 boats that use the canals daily – 600 of these are tour boats – the others being home owners and locals.

One of the restaurants on the canal/lake system

After the canal tour the boat headed across the massive lake system here.

Give this area a five star for interesting spectacle.

Monday 3rd September

Our campsite for tonight:  Almere-Haven. Almere Haven – GPS 52.333691.   E.52.221710

Passed over many of these canal drawbridges along the way to our next interim stop over.  This is not one suggested by our friends but a stop on the way to the next one they suggested.

Lots of roadworks gave my driver and NAVIE a head ache but finally got around these to the harbour.

Only two Moho spots available here but we are directly on the harbour front overlooking a sea of yachts and large cruisers.  Restaurants again line the foreshore, but the harbourmaster informed us they had just finished a harbourfront festival yesterday (the last for the season we think) and most of the restaurants would be closed today.

Forgot to take photos in Almere – except this street art shot

Took a long walk around the harbour and into the village centre where the pedestrian mall was busy with many of the shops open.  All very trendy but once behind the mall area there were only very run down and empty shops and buildings.  Apart from fabulous harbour front and town mall – not a lot to see.

Tuesday 4th September

Dropped into Kaasboerderig Simonhoeve in Katwoude –  GPS N52.486580  E5.032450 which is a trendy clog and cheese factory.  It is also a gratis overnight place for Mohos but we opted not to stay here as the weather was not great and though only a 1.5km bike ride to Volendam and a further 2kms to Edam, thought it best to find somewhere closer to stay. 

Demonstration of how clogs were made manually

Saw a demonstration on cheese making and clog manufacture which was really great and then visited the shop on the way out. 

Now there is a different sort of cheese?

Really enjoyed the cheese tasting – they even had one named “Cannabis”.

Fancy a cheese?

Visited Volendam and Edam – both great little towns (though extremely busy with bikers).  Didn’t like any of the CPs here so moved on.

Our campsite for tonight:  Jachthaven De Grashaven, Hoorn –  GPS N52.633930.   E5.057290

What a little gem.  The CP is great and right in the yacht harbour grounds where hundreds upon hundreds of yachts lined the foreshore.  Could have spent a day or more just walking along looking at the boats but opted to head along the seafront today followed by a walk into the village.  This CP is right on the point of a peninsula in the Markermeer – a huge expanse of water, ideal for sailing.

Hoorn city square

Cobble stoned narrow streets made it difficult for cars to get around but had to watch out for the bikers.   The village square is wonderful and we did our usual trick of people watching with a half litre or two.

Hoorn city centre

They even have a convention and exhibition centre here on the harbour – we shuddered at the memories it brought back.