Going Dutch, revisiting the Netherlands 10 years after my last road trip there
Windmills, clogs, boats and a giant statue of a constipated man!
I've spent much of my free time lately browsing the classified ads for live aboard boats, dreaming of upgrading mine for something a little more comfortable. Having fallen in love with a pretty little dutch tjalk style boat I decided it was time for a road trip to check out my potential purchase. So it was with storm Jorge threatening gale force winds and monsoon rain I booked the car ferry from Harwich to Hoek van Holland. I mean, what better time to cross the North Sea for a road trip in a convertible?
Storms can be incredibly exhilarating at sea, I've spent much of my life messing about on boats and have to admit I get a bit of a kick out of being one of the few on a ship who can stay upright and smiling in such conditions. Imagine my disappointment then when the sea was as calm as the village pond and the sky as blue as a white walkers eyes! Storm Jorge decided to pass me by! I seemed to have a patch of clear sky following me as when I arrived at my airbnb for the night, a 2 hour drive from the ferry terminal, they told me it had rained all day.
I chose Enkhuizen as a halfway point between the ferry and the location of the boat I would view. It's home to over 400 tall ships and sailing barges so I was thrilled when I found an airbnb aboard one of the ships. Barbara was born in East Germany but since the fall of the Berlin wall her life has taken her to Holland where she now runs yacht charters and B&B aboard her beautiful ship. We discovered we are the same age and both have a cat living aboard our respective boats. Her cat has her own mini gangplank for going ashore, mine has to jump! Her boat is far more beautiful than mine though, what's more she does all the maintenance herself and is even responsible for the gorgeous woodwork inside and out!
Next morning the rain had caught up with me so the roof would have to stay on as I headed to Friesland, in the north of Holland to visit the boat I had set my heart on. Anyone who has ever shopped online knows that photos can be deceptive though and this one was not to be my new home. Since I was in the area I stopped by another brokerage where I did find something a little more promising but this isn't Boat tribe, so back to the road trip. I planned a route back to Enkhuizen that would take me past Hollands famous shitting man! Only the Dutch would have such a creative road block!
The scuplture officially named 'Exposure' is by British artist, Anthony Gormley. The shape is based on Gormley himself apparently posing in contemplation, although some say it looks more like constipation. Regardless of the mans motivation this lonely spit of land jutting into the ijsselmeer makes a great location for car photos! The metal behemoth serves a purpose too, the road ends abruptly just beyond his feet and so motorists are spared a soggy end to their journey. I had hoped for better weather but the moody sky has it's own appeal.
The Dutch are masters of engineering, holding back the sea from this low-lying country. Back home in Britain rivers have burst their banks flooding farms and villages but in Holland, despite suffering the same storms as the UK, I saw barely a puddle on the roads! It's even possible to drive across the Ijsselmeer, the vast inland sea, via two long dykes. Naturally I had to drive both, using one on my journey to Friesland and the other on the way back. Whilst I admire this feat of engineering greatly my main reason for taking this route is because the image on the satnav amuses me!
Arriving back in Enkhuizen I stopped in the same place I took car photos 10 years ago. There were different ships moored at the dock but not much else had changed. You can read about my last Dutch road trip in a BMW E46 M3 here. Sadly Spyker cars are no more so I wasn't able to recreate that part of my previous journey.
Next morning the sun was back out but I only had a few hours before my ferry home. No visit to Holland is complete without a few windmills so I dropped the roof and drove to Zaanse Schans, one of the most picturesque sites in the Netherlands, though not one I could access with my car for a photo opportunity, that had to stay in the museum car park.
Considering that barely a day has passed in the last few months when Britain hasn't been battered with wind and rain I was utterly gobsmacked to have yet another calm, sunny sea passage! I was also surprised at how empty the ferry was in both directions. Most of my fellow passengers were lorry drivers who kept to their own private lounge. Was it just the forecast bad weather putting people off or are people travelling less for fear of contracting Corona Virus? I can't say it wasn't on my mind but the Netherlands have very few cases at the time of writing and with so few people on the ferry there was no need to come into close contact with other travellers. I even had the on board cinema to myself! Has corona virus put you off of travelling? Would you still consider a road trip?