Sunday 22 June 2014

Our European Vacation

Not quite the Griswolds thankfully, but not far off it at times!

So we started off with a week with our dear friends in Hamburg, they were moving into their new house, which is gorgeous - huge rooms, floor to ceiling windows, beautiful modern kitchen, and balcony on the top floor, everything you come to expect in a German home. So the week included the necessary trip to IKEA, and hemming curtains, with lots of love, fine food and drink thrown in.

Hamburg is a beautiful city, even though it has one of the busiest docks in the world. On one day we went to one of their city beaches, having driven past numerous huge merchant houses on the way, you get the idea that Hamburg is quite wealthy city. The manmade beach was a favourite with the locals, as was the bar on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The views across the water sum up what Hamburg is all about.



Recently we have been thinking of purchasing a campervan or caravan, having hired campers in New Zealand and Australia and enjoyed them, but they were in warmer climes than here, where you can sit outside and relax, not be cooped up inside out of the torrential rain! So before taking the plunge we thought we would try out the tent we bought years ago and where better than our favourite country of the Netherlands. We drove from Hamburg west to Groningen in the north of the Netherlands where we pitched tent for the first time, and managed not to look like complete amateurs.



How cosy does this look, complete with quilt?



On our second day, I managed to get talked into hiring a bike and cycling into Groningen. I was totally up for it until I sat on the rock hard saddle and tried to set off. Dutch bikes do not have handbrakes, but instead have pedal back brakes, which means the pedals don't move round freely for you to get ready to move off. With bad balance to start with, this caused me all manner of problems. I suppose the good thing to come out of it is that my bike at home should be easier than ever to get the hand of. I would just like to add, this was only my second time on a bike in 30 years!




Groningen is a student town, which made cycling all the more chaotic! The town itself is lovely, like a mini Amsterdam with its cobbles streets, tall terraced houses lining the canals, and the town square with a great food market selling local produce.





Yesterday we packed up the tent in the rain, both looking forward to a proper bed in warm dry hotel room! I don't think camping is for us! We are now in Amsterdam, we love Amsterdam and feel like it's our second home. We are also hear to meet another dear friend, who amazingly has cycled from London to Amsterdam for charity, and we wanted to be there at the finish line...



We are so proud of him and the rest of the gang, we left them to have a much deserved drink, and rest and went for a Argentinian steak, a must in Amsterdam. Today we plan to enjoy the sights of this stunning town, and we have sunshine at last!!