Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I should probably put a capper on the whole thing, and point out that with sore feet and a heavy heart I made it back to London without any hassles.  It's true what they say about the grass being greener on the other side.  Some nights sleeping in my tent I wished for nothing more than be wrapped up in a warm duvet at home, but now I missed the wandering and having everything I need to live on my back.

Still a great trip.  And I'm already planning the next one a little bit.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 14 - Amsterdam

Had a great day yesterday. Managed to find my way to Anne Frank's house without too much trouble, and then after an hours queue I was in!

It was definitely worth the wait. I've been a big admirer of Anne Frank ever since I read her diary as a teenager, and getting to see the space she lived in while she wrote it was fascinating. Obviously it was also extremely moving and depressing at times, but the house/museum is laid out in such a way that you're made to consider wider issues of social injustice and the concept of freedom as well as the personality and story of Anne Frank. V much recommended if you're ever in Amsterdam.

After a quick falafel lunch I hopped on a ferry and crossed the waters to The Eye film institute where I went to a Stanley Kubrick exhibition. A bit of a change of pace to go from the emotional to the analytical, but a nice one. Was an excellent exhibition, with lots and lots of great props and costumes from his entire body of work. They had a big nuclear bomb prop from Dt Strangelove, but to my dismay it had a sign next to it saying "Please Do Not Ride The Bomb". Awww.

It turned out that with an exhibition ticket you could get a discount on a film. So I went out to one of Ansterdam's fine coffee shops for a quick bit of relaxation, then I went to see 2001 on a huge screen with quadraphonic sound.

It was great! Definitely the best way to see the film. It was all a bit overwhelming at times.

Right, I've got a train to Brussels to catch at 14:13, then soon after a Eurostar to St Pancras. See you later, London!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Day 12 - Amsterdam

Woop! Finally made it. I'm staying in a campsite about 3km from the city centre in a v small town called Zonderdorp. It's very strange, 30 minutes on the bus from a bustling city centre and I'm out in some tranquil rural paradise with cows and goats and whatnot.

The campsite itself is some kind of alternative commune. There's yurts and tepees, and many interesting and, to be frank, stoned people about. It's a bit like being at Glastonbury without the music.

I've made friends with these two old Russian guys called Yuri and Alex. I met them when they were playing chess and drinking vodka. We all had a drink and a smoke together and collectively put the boot into Yeltsin (and at one point Brezhnev, but I was a bit out of my depth there). So it's all very pleasant stuff, nice that the last place I camp is probably the friendliest.

I had a good look around Amsterdam yesterday. It is, obviously, lovely. Im sure I must be the last person I know never to have been before. I sat around drinking Amstell, eating falafel and listening to jazz music.

Today I'm heading for Anne Frank's house, and then afterwards to cheer myself up there's an exhibition of Stanley Kubrick props on.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day 11 - Utrecht

I've had a wonderful day in Utrecht today - made all the nicer by the fact that I had nice people to spend the day with rather than wandering around aimlessly on my own.

I woke up in a warm and soft fold out bed in a flat on the excellently named street Johncoltranestraat (next to DukeEllingtonstraat and off the Jazzsingel).  Much nicer than waking up in a field in some sweaty and increasingly unhygienic smelling tent.

I spent the morning drinking coffee and catching up with all the internet stuff I'd missed in the 11 days I've been away.

Later I borrowed one of my friend's bikes and cycled into Utrecht with them.  Cycling around the Netherlands compared to London is like night and day.  No-one screamed insults at me, no-one tried to crush me with a van - I didn't even get randomly assaulted once!  The omnipresent and wide-ranging network of cycle lanes means you can get around both easily and with pleasure.

When we got into the city centre I was surprised - Utrecht is absolutely beautiful.  We had a look around a half destroyed cathedral (a C18 hurricane this time rather than Nazis).  Afterwards we headed to a coffee shop and spent a relaxing hour listening to jazz in the basement.  Then we headed out to a park, sat in the sun, fed ducks and drank beer.

Cycling home in the sunset was perfectly lovely - and then we watched some Black Books and In Bruges.  Today I'm hitting the road again pretty soon and heading to Amsterdam.  Can't wait.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day 11 - Short Picture post.

A few pictures so far of my trip:

An average campsite and my gear.

Nazi machine gun bunkers slowly sinking into the sand at Dunkirk

A nice old building in Bruges.
The view from the top of the clock tower in Bruges.
One of the canals in Bruges
More canals in Bruges
Me, on the Breskens to Vlissengen Ferry
View out over a lake near Westkappel

Typical walking view as I head down the beach to my next destination.

Sherman Tank at Westkappel - I later ate my lunch sitting on this.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Day 10 - Hellevoetsluis to Rotterdam

Am posting this just outside the modern art museum in the centre of the city.

Hellevoetsluis proved to be a total bust as a town/city. It doesn't seem to even have a centre as such, just a slightly run down shopping centre. After two hours walking around trying to find something interesting I gave up and returned to the campsite. It was a weird place, kind of reminded me of a Midwestern US town, all long straight roads, and low kind of industrial buildings. At least the campsite was pleasant and grassy though.

I'm surprised at how modern Rotterdam is - I was expecting the usual spattering of old buildings in the centre, but it turns out that nearly everything was flattened in fifteen minutes on 14th May 1940 by the Luftwaffe. Yeah, cheers Hitler.

What remains (sort of) is a nice church (St Lawrence's) which I spent an hour wandering around reading about the history of the place. It looked real nice prior to WW2.

Now the place is filled with glittering, glass skyscraper and more upmarket fashiony shops than you can shake a stick at. If you're in the market for a pair of trainers or a trendy t-shirt then this is the place to be. I'm not, so it feels a little corporate and soulless.

Later I'm hopping on a train to Utrecht to meet up with a friend. After nearly two weeks of solitude on the road it'll be pretty weird to see someone that I know.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Day 9 - Renesse to Hellevoetsluis

A baking hot day here. The kind of day where you get little shimmering mirages over to the top of roads. I walked between a long land bridge between two Dutch islands and it was like walking through a vast concrete desert. I thought my shoes were going to stick to the ground. Kept myself watered though, and I put loads of suntan lotion on so I should be fine.

Am now in Hellevoetsluis, where I'm camped at a very nice campsite just outside of town. Am heading in now to find something for dinner and maybe a pint of beer by a canal.

Tomorrow I'm heading to Rotterdam, and after that I'm going to Utrecht to stay at a friend's house. I can't wait, life in a tent has its positive points, but I miss beds and pillows and stuff.