Day 197 – Friday 21st September 2018
The van was a rockin’ this morning as storm Bronagh lashed Northern France. No problems though driving from Calais to Knokke (pronounced Cur-knocka).
It was still an extremely blowy day when we motored into town on Zippy.
We’re here because I saw this place described as the St Tropez of Belgium and that intrigued me. Even though you could spit on The Netherlands from here they speak French rather than Flemish or Walloon.
The truth is Knokke is absolutely nothing like St Tropez. It is more like Cannes – restaurants filling the beeches and the town itself full of expensive clothing shops.
It’s true café prices in the town are as high as St Tropez but you could say that for the whole of Belgium; this is not a country to be peckish in. You’re unlikely to get a coffee & a slice of cake for a tenner.
Day 198 – Saturday 22nd September 2018
Grey start to the day.
The campsite in The Hague is okay but they don’t allow any animals so….
When the rain eased off I took Zippy into the seaside resort of Scheveningen. Big mistake, I got absolutely piss-wet through.
I had to take shelter…
It continued to bucket it down so I had a nose around the pier. I last visited the town in about 1973ish and at the end of the pier then there was a giant helter-skelter.
The rain refused to stop so in the end I got even wetter getting back to the van.
To make matters worse the BBC weather app says today was just rain; tomorrow it’s going to be heavy rain. Deep fuckin’ joy.
Day 199 – Sunday 23rd September 2018
The route into Scheveningen and The Hague by road is a bit torturous and involves a few one way streets while the cycle track is straight forward.
Little 25cc mopeds are allowed on Dutch cycle tracks but if I get caught on one on Zippy I am liable to get a ticket and The Hague being the capital I thought they’d be plenty of police knocking about so I decided we’d hire some bikes and cycle into town!
When Julie tried to ride her bike it was too big for her so she swapped it…
The rain was awful and I’ve decided that from now on Northern Europe is a no no from the start of September to the end of May.
Day 200 – Monday 24th September 2018
Up and off to Amsterdam today. The weather forecast is for sunny intervals and a light breeze. Idea sightseeing weather.
The drive to Amsterdam was no problem.
The trip into Amsterdam from our campsite is just a 10 minute ride on Zippy so we nipped into town to get the lay of the land.
The old town is very touristy and they have supermarkets that seem to sell little but bongs, large Rizla papers and space cake.
We took a turn off a main drag and found ourselves in the Red Light district. Julie was shocked the women were stood in the windows in their underwear.
Personally I can’t think of anything sadder.
We wandered around for the rest of the afternoon while Julie took photos…
Day 201 – Tuesday 25th September 2018
Lovely morning, we motored into town for our walking tour.
We were the only Brits on the tour, the rest were Germans, but our guide Marcella did the tour in her near perfect English.
Marcella explained that the Dutch had always been a tolerant people especially when money was involved. We started off at the Old Church where we were told the Catholic Church used to sell forgiveness to the sailors who frequented the city’s prostitutes. Just at the back of the church was a street known as Big Mama Alley and true enough the girls in the windows were on the chunky side. There was also a large kindergarten on Big Mama Alley.
It is considered rude to photograph the girls and your phone might end up in a canal.
Apparently up until recently the city had over 500 working windows but that has been reduced to 280. The girls hire the windows for a shift and they will typically have 15 customers a shift. Each encounter entails a suck and a fuck, costs on average €50 and lasts on average 8 minutes. Marcella certainly knew her stuff!
Marcella warned us there are transgender sex workers working in the town. There’s something for everyone in Amsterdam
Walking around Amsterdam can be dangerous. There are 1.2 million bikes in the city and most of them are used daily. There must be well over 100 bikes for every car. They ring their little bells to warn you to get out of the way but being Brits we are not used to diving for cover at the sound of a bicycle bell 🙁
Marcella touched on the drugy side of the town. People can carry up to 5g of weed and everyone in The Netherlands can grow up to 3 cannabis plants but she said it was no big deal and most people didn’t bother with the stuff.
Shops are full of Space Cake though.
Day 202 – Wednesday 26th September 2018
Beautiful if chilly morning, autumn is well on its way. Off into Amsterdam to visit the van Gogh museum.
van Gogh was only an Artist for 10 years. Before that he worked for his art dealer uncle in The Hague, London and Paris
He ended up living in Arles, just at the top of the Camargue where he had a little Yellow House.
It was here he had his mental health issues that resulted in him cutting off his ear after a row with his best mate. He died aged just 37 from a self inflicted gunshot wound.
Of course no visit to a museum is complete without a visit to the gift shop
Afterwards we visited Coster Diamonds where they tried to flog us some very expensive stones.
We rounded off the day by visiting the Banksy exhibition at the Moco Museum.
And it’s not very technical, it’s the artistic equivalent of drawing a Hitler moustache on a photo of Margaret Thatcher. I reckon van Gogh would easily have Banksy in a paint-off.
The audio commentary of the exhibition said Banksy sees graffiti artists, such as himself as rats, hated by authorities but impossible to eradicate from the cities. Really??
It strikes me Banksy isn’t as ‘street’ as he likes to make out. With all the merchandising and the celebrity friends he’s more than likely a bit of a champagne socialist.
On the way out of the Moco there was a pleasant surprise.
Day 203 – Thursday 27th September 2018
Beautiful day. Once we’d sorted the van we popped into town for a boat tour on the canals.
Amsterdam has changed a lot since I last visited. It’s much more touristy and they city has cleaned itself up, a little.
Trip over we had a walk to the Nemo building and Julie had a coffee on the roof terrace.