Ah well, it’s Monday morning and time to set off for Calais. The holiday is over. Now all that’s left to do is to get to Calais in time for the 17:50 train, an overnight stop at Canterbury and then do the laundry once we get home.
We have really enjoyed our time in Belgium and The Netherlands. Our eyes have been well and truly opened to the beauty of these countries. Or at least of the parts we have visited- we’re both well aware that there’s a lot more to explore.
So, after our month in the van…the longest holiday either of us have ever taken…we have discovered a few things, some of which we will detail below.
- The Belgians and Dutch don’t go in for large, out-of-town supermarkets. In France, we had got used to popping to a large Carrefour, and stocking up. Here it was different. We did once squeeze LC into a space at a Lidl, but mostly we cycled to the shops for food, using a pannier and a rucksack at most.
- It’s worth chatting to “locals”….it was by doing so, that we found out about the wonderful sand dunes, and the smaller type of campsites, often based on farms. Vekabo and SVR are the ones we discovered. These smaller campsites are quieter, but the facilities are still excellent, though some lacked a drive-over drain for waste water. We got around this, by finding the nearest Motorhome aire where we could dump waste water. No, we didn’t resort to emptying the waste whilst driving. We do have some standards!
- It IS possible to survive a month without a hairdryer. Yes, Andrew already knew this.
- It’s also, apparently, possible to survive without changing bedlinen every few days….
- Lidl do lovely cheap croissants..as do Emtee, a Dutch supermarket..29 cents each, or, our best bargain- 4 for a Euro! ….nothing beats croissants and fresh coffee for a Summer holiday breakfast.
- After years of “making an effort” to speak French, when on our hols, it was of no use at all in The Netherlands…it had to be Flemish, or Dutch. Occasionally, a bit of schoolboy/ girl German, came in handy, but we have decided to at least try to pick up some Dutch for our next visit. It was quite embarrassing, not being able to converse properly.
- Belgian beers can be very strong! Watch out for the alcohol content on menus, and on bottle labels.
- Cycling in Belgium, and in the Netherlands, is an absolute breeze. Not only do they have proper cycleways everywhere(not just the few inches afterthought at the side of the road UK style cycleway) and bikes do rule the road. Oh, yes, and the lack of proper hills does help a lot! It takes a bit of getting used to , especially when cars give way at junctions. Us foreigners always acknowledged their kindness.
- Also on cycling…we were constantly amazed by how families get around…lots of wooden boxes, carrying up to 4 kiddies, attached to the front of their parents’ cycles. Very few cycling helmets were seen, and we certainly didn’t feel the need for ours.
- Eurotunnel will be delayed. Your cross-channel journey will not be at the time specified on your ticket. This makes a nonsense out of the ‘Flexiplus’ ticket type which costs pretty much double the standard, fixed date/time ticket.
- Book well in advance on Eurotunnel and use your Tesco vouchers.
- We managed to get into each of the campsites we stopped at, but a few of them had only a few pitches available when we turned up. The small farm campsites seem to insist on prior reservation. So next time reserve a day or so ahead of arrival, and maybe go a few weeks earlier next time.