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2015 MAY NETHERLANDS - STENA LINE FERRY HARWICH TO HOOK

UK to the Netherlands, we sail across the English channel over to the Continent.


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Saturday 23rd May 2015 (day nineteen)

An early start this morning as we had to be down at the ferry at 8.00 am for 9.00 am departure. After thanking and bidding goodbye to our friends Janet and John, we loaded our huge bags into a taxi to take us down to the dock.

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The crossing of the Channel from England to Holland was long and uneventful. Thankfully the sea was calm so it was smooth sailing, only complaint was the air conditioning was turned up to Arctic levels so we froze the entire 8 hours. It was not only us who felt the shallow temperature, other passengers around us were rugged up and shivering under blankets also. We regretted checking in our luggage as we had sleeping bags with us that we could have readily used to try and stay a little warmer.

I guess the high air con was trying to acclimatize us for the coolness of temperature that met us as we left the ferry terminal to walk to the train station. Luckily it was only about 20 meters away so we did not have far to go. However, once there we had to wait on the drafty platform approximately 25 minutes until our train arrived. We still had a way to travel as tonight we had a hotel booked in Almere which is about an hour north of Amsterdam. Our ferry ticket included a train ticket to any Dutch station, but the first train we boarded would only take us as far as Rotterdam from where we got on at the Hook of Holland. As we had to change trains in Rotterdam, we thought it best to leave half our luggage at the Rotterdam train station as we were only going to be away one night then return to this same station. This was a better idea than carting it with us for one night.

While at the station we stopped for a quick picnic break with the left over food we were given for the ferry journey. (Thanks Janet).

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Another train took us from Rotterdam to Amsterdam where again we changed to a different train that took us to Almere. It was almost 9.30pm when we finally booked into our hotel and it was still broad daylight outside. Gotta love a hotel that hands out ear plugs to its guests on checkin. They warned us there was going to be very very loud music from 10pm until about 4am. We were given a room on the 4th floor and after showering we more or less went to bed. (After watching the Eurovision Song Contest of course).
I don't know about Lyn but I did not hear much of the music that was played downstairs, it had been a big day of travelling and slept like a log on a very uncomfortable soft bed, in a room with very loud wallpaper.

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Sunday 24rd May 2015 (day twenty)

Breakfast was included with our room and we took full advantage of it this morning.

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Rest of the day was spent with our cousins Alie & Koos and Wout & Ria. It was a beautiful day and we sat outside in the sunshine. Koos cooked some amazing schol (sole fish) which we enjoyed for dinner.

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After a lovely day spent with our Dutch rellies, which was as usual a complete day of overeating, Lyn and I boarded a train to take us back to Rotterdam to the apartment that we have rented for the next week. It was well and truly dark by the time we finally arrived in Rotterdam, collected our luggage from the locker and went outside the train station to get the tram. This of course was perfectly timed with the exact moment that it started to rain - not very heavy, but enough to be a pain with full luggage and no idea where we are going.

Amazingly, we found the apartment without too much trouble. This is a place I had booked via air bnb so very interested and not sure what we were to expect. Luckily the owner lives in the same building so our late arrival was not too much of a problem and Erik was really nice and welcoming. Only down side was apartment was up 4 flights of stairs, a rather large drama with heavy luggage, but Erik helped and soon we were upstairs and settled. We had forgotten to buy milk so could not even have a tea/coffee, best thing to do was go to bed and find something in the morning.

The hunt for bicycles starts tomorrow.

Monday 25th May 2015 (day twenty-one)

I went out first thing this morning to look for milk and bread. Little did we know that it was a public holiday and nothing, and I mean nothing was open. I walked the surrounding unknown streets but found nothing open, so returned empty handed to the apartment.

Friends on FB assured me the shops would open at 12 noon and we would be able to get sustenance then. And sure enough they were correct, we went out for a walk around lunch time, managed to get some supplies and then went for a walk around town.

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Not much luck on the bike finding front, hard to believe it's hard to find a bike shop when you are looking for one. As we only had half a day anyway we decided to wait until tomorrow to really get into it. After our walk we returned to the apartment, did some washing (we have a machine here). Cooked some dinner and waited around for Toni & Shawn Lemon to arrive. They are joining us for the first 6 weeks of our bike tour, having enjoyed (news to me) the ride along the Danube River with us some years ago. Toni & Shawn are bringing bikes with them from Australia so although their flight is due to land in Amsterdam around 8.30pm we are not expecting them to arrive until much later. Not that they are riding these bikes from the airport to Rotterdam, but need time to assemble and then get them on the train from Schiphol airport to Rotterdam and then they will ride them from the station here in Rotterdam to the apartment.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 13:28 Archived in Netherlands Tagged of holland line almere harwich hook stena Comments (1)

2015 MAY UK - HOP, SKIP & JUMP - BANGERS, MUMBAI & LONDON

Long haul flights never change!


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Wednesday, 20th May 2015 (day sixteen)

Bangkok, Thailand to Mumbai, India is just a 3 hour flight. Our first time flying with Jet Airways - they were ok, we are used to not expecting much with budget airlines. Of course flying with an Indian airline the flight is always going to go via the host country ie India and the majority of passengers are going to be natives of this host country ie Indians! To say the aroma inside the aircraft was exotic is an understatement!

A 2 hour lay over in Mumbai airport in the middle of the night was nothing to get excited about. It was a huge airport and even as transit passengers we again had to get our carry on luggage x-rayed and we were give the once over with the body scanning device. I have never had any interest in visiting India and I can tell you this rigmorale just reinforced this no urge even more. At least the airport was clean, which for some reason I did not think it would be.

Finally we were back on a much larger plane for the final leg of this trip to London and I can tell you that most of these passengers were in need of some kind of floral deodorizing. I'm sorry if I sound racist or unkind but the thought of having to spend the next 8 hours in a confined space with the scent of this country was almost stomach turning. Mental note to remember this when booking future long haul flights. Again this unkindness I am expressing must be due to tiredness and an acute sense of smell.

I managed to sleep a good half of the flight, watched a movie and ate something, which didn't taste too bad at all.

We arrived into Heathrow airport 35 minutes ahead of schedule at 6am. Another early morning entrance into a big city, but here we had a plan. We are not stopping in London but have pre-purchased train tickets out to Harwich to spend a few days with our friends Janet & John, (a couple we met in Turkey 10 years ago and they were silly kind enough to give us their address - although I did warn Janet if she did, we would visit, and we have on several occasions over the years, love you guys).

From Heathrow we caught the tube to Liverpool Street station which is where we need to catch the train out to Essex, the tube took almost 2 hours travelling in peak hour, luckily we only had to change lines once. I had purchased train tickets in advance online at home so we had to catch a specific train which was booked for 12pm. It was too cold to stand about the train station, having left 40 degrees in Thailand this drop down to 5 degrees was definitely felt by us. Best place to take shelter was Maccas where we had a hot coffee with a breakfast meal. It did start to rain just before we were due to go back down to the train track level, but we were all undercover so did not get wet.

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The train trip sped by and before we knew it an hour had passed and we were at Manningtree station where we had to change trains to take us on to Dovercourt.

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Welcoming, smiling faces belonging to Janet and Lara were at the station to greet us.

Thursday 21st May 2015 (day seventeen)

Lovely relaxing day with friends.

It's somewhat colder here in UK than we had anticipated - and that is an major understatement. Bad planning on our part as we did not pack very many warm clothes, or perhaps it was wishful thinking? Anyway, we took a nice stroll around town today and managed to find an op shop where we were able to purchase a pair of jeans each for 3 quid = $6. Not the best form of clothing to be travelling with on a bike holiday, but at this cheap price we happy to wear them for the week leading up until our ride and then perhaps donate them to another set of cold legs.

We went out to dinner with our hosts Janet & John and friends Lara & Ray to the local Chinese restaurant. Bloody good feed it was too and we finished the night with a few beers and more laughs at Lara's house, ending up staying the night due to too many beers the late hour and not being able to get a taxi. A great night!

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Friday 22nd May 2015 (day eighteen)

A slow recovering morning we sat around until lunchtime and then went out for a walk along the water shore to Harwich town. It was a little chilly but not too cold as to not have an ice cream.

These last few days have been another enjoyable visit with our lovely friends here in Harwich. Janet cooked us another yummy home cooked dinner (which we will have to keep in memory for the next months, as home cooked dinners will be few and far between) as our parting meal.

Tomorrow morning we are booked on the 9am ferry to carry us across the channel from Harwich to Hook of Holland.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 13:59 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged street train station liverpool harwich Comments (0)

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