30th April 2017. Naarden, The Netherlands via Giethoorn.

Well I am very surprised, it was SO quiet here last night and the train didn’t go past until about 9.30 a.m.  The only noise we could hear were birds twittering in the trees. Lovely.

It was a beautiful sunny day and we sat and had breakfast whilst watching the speed boats and jet skiers racing along the river.  We were also kept entertained by a young couple who were mucking around on the river bank trying to push each other in, the girl very nearly went in on one occasion but luckily for her boyfriend he caught her!  We saw them walk past later and Darren noted with a note of disappointment in his voice that neither of them had wet clothes!

We were supposed to be leaving early today to do another 5 hour trip driving to Naarden via Giethoorn but we side tracked and started planning the last part of our trip working backwards to today.   We eventually set off around 1p.m.

We stopped off at a motorway service station for coffee and a roll.  This was another one I had to photograph, the ‘salad’ inside was a joke, they had very cleverly positioned the tiny piece of lettuce so it hung out at the end, a smidgen of the lettuce leaf was keeping it in place inside the roll!  Mind you I consider that a culinary masterpiece compared with the roll that I photographed on the way to Sittensen http://hartfree-bright.co.uk/19th-april-sittensen-germany/.  You’d have thought we’d have learned our lesson by now but apparently we haven’t.

In fact that’s two lessons we still haven’t learned, the other, as we tell each other every time we do a long drive, is that we MUST leave sharpish in the morning, no hanging about because we need to get to our destination at a reasonable time but do we ever?  NO!


The consequence of our actions this time was that the aire we had steeled ourselves to go to was full to bursting and we couldn’t find the other car park we’d seen on Google maps, this all worked in our favour however, as we were driving back along the road from the village we spotted a motorhome parked at the side of the road so we joined them, got our bikes out and cycled the 3 minute journey back to the old village of Giethoorn.

We had a nice mooch along a side street where a couple of small channels ran between the houses dissecting the land and a high black bridge linked the little islands to the ‘main land’, it was serene.   However, as we’d anticipated, that all changed when we entered the ‘main drag’.  Even though we’d arrived quite late, about 5.45 p.m. and hoped that it would be quieter, the tiny footpath beside the main canal was still VERY busy, no doubt it was heaving with visitors earlier on in the day.  We followed the footpath for a way, watched the traffic jam of little boats on the waterway, decided that as pretty as the village is it all looked very ‘Disney’ due to the invasion of us tourists.  I’m sure it’s bitter sweet for the inhabitants, I can’t imagine they ever get any peace.  It looked like there were some big camp sites around the back of the village so unlike a lot of pretty places such as El Castell de Guadalest where people are brought in by coach to visit for a couple of hours and then peace returns in the late afternoon as they all leave this village must be under constant siege and I felt guilty that I was a part of this invasion.

I’m glad we came to see Giethoorn but we decided we’d move on to our next stop which was hopefully going to be in the fortified city of Naarden an hour and a half away.

That journey was superb.  Along the way we passed a field with two hares in it and another field with a deer.  We also saw a blade from a wind generator laying beside the road and at one point some huge grey humps at a junction on the A6 motorway near Almere which Darren joked were elephants.  As we followed the road round we could see the front of the humps and they were indeed enormous statues of elephants!

There was also a sculpture of a brick house with smoke coming out of the chimney with a little boat on top of the smoke.  It’s lovely to see art work beside the road.  There was some interesting architecture en route too, which is always great to see.

However the best thing of all on this journey was that our route took us past loads of flower fields.  The scent from one of the fields wafted into the van as we passed.  Some of the fields we passed had people walking around in the flowers and in a couple of cases they were picking flowers, at first we thought they were working but then we noticed a couple of people scrambling over a ditch to get into the field and realised that they were all tourists!  I find it incredible that these people should think it’s acceptable to behave like that.

I’m very glad we visited the flower fields when we did, a lot of the fields in this area were already ploughed ready for the next crop to be sown and some of the fields had flowers just starting to form so the colour appeared as little dots amongst a sea of green.


We were a little concerned as we drove towards Naarden, the SAT NAV kept throwing up a sign saying there was a vehicle limit of 7 metres along the route, which Darren had to keep accepting, it was almost like she was trying to make us have an accident!  What puzzled us was that she hadn’t bothered to mention the 2.5 metre height restriction in Vlotho and yet she was throwing a wobbly about this!  As it turned out she was making a big fat fuss about nothing.

We definitely made the right decision to move on to Naarden.  The fortified town is an amazing sight and we were lucky enough to be able to park up for the night within the walls.


As we’d driven down the little cobbled street, following our SAT NAV’s dodgy directions, I’d noticed an ice cream shop, Ijshuys de Ster, so the minute we’d parked you can guess where we headed.  It’s amazing how fast Darren can move when there’s the chance of an ice cream, especially when there’s the chance that the shop is about to close, it was just gone 8.00 p.m. when we got to the shop, Darren spied some people sitting on a bench eating ice cream as we walked along the street so he was feeling quite positive that the shop would still be open.  It was heaving with people in fact, 8.00 p.m. on a Sunday evening  is obviously a popular time to buy ice cream.

It was very nice ice cream (the Gelateria Dante Eiscafe in Sittensen and the shop, Busche’s Eis in Wernigerode still head the list of best ice cream ever but this one takes 3rd place!)  We wandered around the town looking at the historical buildings while we ate our ice cream then we walked back along the ramparts to the van (that bit was done at a much speedier pace because there were lots of ‘bitey things’ flying around up there).

We settled down for the evening to watch Vikings.

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