Tall Ships 2015

The Tall Ships were to be in Amsterdam in August and my daughter suggested I go and see them there and she would arrange a boat for us to view the mass arrival on the water.

Up to the day before I was due to travel it was only me going, but our dog Lottie was not well and so the difficult decision was made to have her put to sleep there and then. I didn't want to travel alone nor leave Doreen behind alone, so arrangements were changed and after the vet had been,  Doreen travelled with me. Not, as you will imagine, the best start to any holiday. 

We have been to Gaasper camping on many previous occasions but never in August so were unprepared for how busy it was. we had booked a pitch without electricity and were positioned in a field very close to another camper on our left but it was ok until a little while later they squeezed another one in to our right and after the staff went away the driver moved it even closer to us. There was thunder and hailstones in the night and early next morning Doreen went and negotiated another pitch in a part where each pitch was clearly defined. 

Spent friday in Amsterdam (campsite is very close to metro) and amongst other things bought some great looking tulip bulbs. Afternote: they all came up a non-descript uniform red not at all like they were shown on the packet. 

Sandy, daughter Rhiannon's partner, is a great one for flea markets so nexy day we met up at Centraal station, crossed the river Ij and went to a huge one, we bought two attractive trays which are still in the van, unused as far as I remember. Rather than wait for the correct ferry back we went on the next one which resulted in a longish walk and which badly affected Doreen's back 

Next day, Sunday, we went into Amsteradam to get on the hop on hop off tourist boat but the queue was too long so instead spent the day eating and drinking or so it seemed but also we went to the museum church on Dam square where they had a royalty exhibition.

It rained all day on Monday. Doreen stayed resting whilst I went to what seems to be the only map shop in Amsterdam. I have to say that it ranked alongside Stanfords (Bristol and London) for both range and quality. I bought a Falk atlas of the Netherlands which is at 1:75,000 scale and most suitable for cyclists. However now a treasured posession.

Tuesday we drove to Enkuisen and went to the museum of the Zuider Zee. I should explain that there is now an enclosed inland lake where once the majority of North Sea bay called Zuider Zee once was. We came back towards Amsterdam over the Houtribdijk which bisects it, the Ijsselmeer to its north and the Markermeer to the south.


Wednesday was to be the big day, we went to Rhiannon's flat and then various of the family and friends were stuffed into a large taxi and made the trip to Zandam where our little boat was waiting. 

We motored west meeting the Tall Ships and their entourage shortly after as they processed east towards Amsterdam. It was a sunny day we had beer and food, the ships looked magnificent the only disconcerting thing was that the skipper seemed to have a weak bladder and several times gave me the helm. 







At a convenient point when a gap emerged we performed the manoeuvre strictly forbidden by the sailing instructions for the day ie a 'U' turn so that now we were heading back to Amsterdam alongside the Tall Ships eventually we were fast approaching the bottleneck near the centre so we dived off into the canal system and slowly we went around the Prinsengracht to the river Amstel.

The next day was sunny again and I went into town early to see the moored up ships. Doreen rested at Gaasper. Rhiannon met me at the harbour after a few hours


Equador, where else with those roses?




I always used to coil ropes tidely but this is OTT



On Friday we collected Sandy and Rhiannon and went to Kastle Haar where we picniced before going around the grounds. We drove back along the minor but very beautiful road from Breukelen to Weesp and then went back to Gaasper where Sandy and Rhiannon caught the metro back home. 


Our Swedish friend Cecilia Sigsvaardotter was with her choir ' Angels' giving a private concert in a part of Amsterdam we hadn't visited beyond Westerpark. There is a network of paths behind locked gates connecting little summerhouses between the trees where folk spend their weekends. We had wangled an invite and so after a morning's shopping and lengthy tram ride met up with Rhiannon and enjoyed a lovely concert. The choir specialise in songs from all over the world which they sing unaccompanied. 


We had a meal afterwards in the Rembrantplein which was on our tram's route. 


Sunday saw us driving to Enkuisen again but there we parked up at the free parking for motorhomes before boarding the MS Friesland gor the trip to Membelik where we had lunch. Then caught the steam tram to Hoorn where we crossed the station and boarded an ICE back to Enkuisen.


After a rainy night went into town to meet up with Rhi and Sandy but first to have a decent sized coffee in the Starbucks in Centraal station we did lots of walking we had lunch in the Munts tower and then the rain really caught up with us outside the Irish bar on Leidesplein. Back to Rhiannon's then to a local restuarant for a farewell meal. 

Next day we drove to  Hoek van Holland by way of Den Haag and the model version of Holland, Madurodam, which is well worth a visit. We also took in a Lidl. Had a bumpy crossing through the night and then drove back to Salisbury in torrential rain.