Europe Trip 2018

Holland

Whenever we go back to Ireland we take advantage of being on that side of the world to make a side-trip to Europe. This time we visited Holland, Belgium and France.

Amsterdam: bicycles, crooked buildings, canals, flower market, cheese, Ann Frank’s house

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We tried to visit the Van Gogh Museum but after a bus, train, then tram-ride to get there, we found that the only way to get tickets was online and I had left my iPad at the hotel so had no means of accessing the Internet and the museum didn’t provide any. Seems to be a very strange form of crowd control!

We had the same sort of luck with the tulips. Family in Liverpool had shown us their photos of field after field of tulips, each a different vibrant colour. But when we asked at the tourist office for directions to the tulip fields and windmills, we were told the tulip  season was over and the farmers had pulled any remaining tulips out of the ground.

Fortunately in the Zaan Region there’s a dedicated windmill village that can’t go out of season so we went there instead!

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We used 1-day Amsterdam and Region travel tickets to get a bus to the windmills at Zaanse Schans Village; trains to Zaandam where we ate lunch and to Edam where we had a beer across from a cheese shop; then a bus via Volendam and Julianaweg – one of my middle names is Julianna – back to Amsterdam Central.

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Zaandam

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Edam

We had dinner at the waterfront before taking the free ferry over to Buiksloterweg, then back again after a short walk. Its a very popular ferry with pedestrians and cyclists.

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Den Haag and Delft day trip

We caught the Sprinter train from Schipol to Den Haag.

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After exploring  Den Haag also known as Le Haag, The Hague and Le Hague, we caught  a tram to Delft.

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Next stop Belgium!

 

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Back to Ireland – 5 April 18 June 2018 cont – England and Scotland

 

Scotland

Wallace statue

Wallace statue, Stirling Castle

After a Full English Breakfast we got back on the road and drove to Stirling Castle.

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Wallace Monument

We could see the Wallace Monument in the distance but drove around in circles for ages trying unsuccessfully to find the turn-off to it. We gave up and continued on to the Falkirk Wheel, an enormous structure that moves boats between the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal.

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Here’s a slideshow of the wheel in motion:

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From the Wheel we drove to Falkirk town and negotiated our way through a very complex one-way system to our hotel, probably the worst place we stayed in throughout our overseas trip. The website had warned that the lift didn’t service all floors, in fact it didn’t service any. It was out of order due to a brawl the night before! That will give you some insight as to the class of hotel I’d booked us into. Our room was up several flights of stairs, interspersed with long corridors, badly lit with sensor lights not all of which worked. The white towels were grey and threadbare, the heating was temperamental and the bathroom flooded in the middle of the night. When reception wasn’t staffed you had to go into the bar for service. It stank! Fortunately we only had to spend one night there.

We had a walk around the town and found somewhere to have dinner, the Orchard Hotel, where the food was tasty and the staff were friendly and renewed our faith in Scottish hospitality.

After that we went to Helix Park to see the Kelpies. These are amazing, giant, metal horse-head structures that are illuminated at night. Normally you can do a tour to see the structures from the inside, but there was a crew recording a TV show when we were there so the tours weren’t operating.

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Helix Park is a vast community-use space incorporating wetlands, canals, the Kelpies and the Wheel.

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We drove to Edinburgh the next day. We parked in the city and walked up to the castle, then down through the gardens. I looked for the floral clock I’d seen there about 40 years ago but it was too early in the season so it hadn’t been planted yet.

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Next, back to England.