A visit from armed guards and a tour of Haarlem!

Our morning wake up call!

Dave the motorhome is relaxing just outside Delftse Hout campsite in Delft (N52.01753 E4.37852). The campsite is full, but they have an overflow section for motorhomes which has power, water and a TV point on every pitch – hardly slumming it we’re more than happy to stay out here (as long as our loo doesn’t suddenly fill up between 11pm and 7am when the gates to the campsite are closed!

Neither of us slept well last night. We’d stayed up until 11pm but were still convinced that the police would turn up in the middle of the night and move us on – we’ve gotten out of practice on the wild/free camping. No police arrived, but I was till wide awake and up at 7.30am watching the huge tankers, cruise ships and ferries make their way into the Harbour. It’s a little bit crazy to think that from where we were a ferry sailed to Newcastle – we really are getting close to home.

Just after 9.30 a small boat marked Douane started to buzz around the jetty next to where we were parked. A couple of the armed customs guards got off and walked up to shore. Jay suspected they were going to the  cafe for a drink, but they turned our way. Stopping behind Dave to write down his number plate Jay leapt out just as they walked off and started talking to the owner of the only other motorhome parked in the ‘no overnight parking’ car park we were in. Figuring they’d be heading in our direction next I did a quick tidy up – well it’s not good to have guests when the place is in a mess!

Our morning wake up call!

Sure enough they appeared at our door asking about where we were going and where we had come from, so we invited them in and showed them Dave’s table. Stuck to it is a map of Europe and drawn on that is our route (we pinched the idea from Adam and Kylie who we met in Budapest). They stood chatting for about 10 minutes asking if we’d encountered any trouble on our trip, not really I replied, then Jay pointed out that this was the first time we’d had any armed people in the van. Worryingly they said you hear about problems all the time in the papers and we shouldn’t park anywhere alone – eek! Charlie happily licked one guards hand and when I spotted him and told him off the guard said it was fine, then I pointed out Charlie hadn’t had his breakfast so he made sure he counted his fingers. If we weren’t so worried about being arrested for sleeping in a don’t sleep car park, we’d have made them a coffee. It was only after they’d gone that we figured they were just checking we weren’t smuggling people or drugs around as we were parked right next to the sea – sometimes we’re so naive!

Five minutes after our new armed friends left Dave a customs car pulled up next to us. We agreed it was time to finish the pots and get going. Having visited Amsterdam on a long weekend previously we decided not to go there and instead headed to Haarlem which is next to it. After driving all the way around the city we began to think that the ‘Centrum Route Parking’ didn’t actually exist or was just the street parking rather than an actual car park. I jumped out and checked out one of the parking meters but was thoroughly confused by it – €2.75 an urr, but with two tariff buttons one was 10c, the other 50c but I wasn’t sure for what!

If anyone can decipher the parking signs and meters, they deserve to park up!

Returning to Dave we headed out of the city in the suburbs and parked up behind a couple cleaning out their motorhome. I checked were OK to park there for the day – as we didn’t want any more interactions with the authorities – and we set off on foot into the town.

So many different types of bike, and none will fit on our bike rack!

It took us a while to get used to the canals, roads and cycle lanes, it seems pedestrians are the lowest of the low afforded only a small space to walk on, often uneven with tree roots. We sat in awe (again) as the bridges lifted up to let the traffic through, normal for the folks around here, but amazing to us.

The higher you want the bridge to lift, the more you have to pay!

We stared at people cycling past on the many different types of bicycle: normal, electric, huge boxes on the front for carrying stuff or people, extra seats on the cross bar, windshield and baby seat on handle bars – there were too many combinations to list, but luckily we found a shop with a few outside.

Navigation windmill, thanks for your help!

Reaching a windmill next to the canal finally gave us a reference point so we could work out where the main square was, we trotted over a couple more bridges and soon found ourselves in market day. Being Monday loads of places were closed (our Lonely Planet tells us locals go to Brothels on a Monday so businesses are closed, I’m not sure how true that is these days!), but the market still had a decent display of stripey trousers, animal skins and cheap converse boots.

Haarlem Market in the sunshine

We stumbled across a sweet smelling stall selling Stroopwaffles, a particular favourite of ours. Usually we buy them from Lidl (of course) warm the waffle over a cup of hot water, tea or coffee until the toffee inside has melted then eat it – yummy. Today that was topped, fresh Stroopwaffles, with the toffee already hot and poured into the waffles – it tasted amazing.

Yuumy Stroopwaffles – loads of them!!

We made our way back to Dave after a quick stop at the VVV (Tourist Information) to get a map to help us find our way back. Driving south we passed through Schipol airport, surprisingly two motorways do this, Dave managed to overtake a taxiing plane so we all let out a big cheer, then the plane turned off – seems he wasn’t even trying!

For some reason Charlie finds it comfortable to wedge his head between my leg and chair while we drive – he was like this for around 20 minutes!

We reached Delft and checked in to the campsite which takes camping cheques and is situated between The Haage and Rotterdam. After a quick relax and check that the wifi works (priority one) we set off into Delft (home of the pottery) to buy some provisions at the supermarket.

Can anyone tell us what this is about? We’re guessing it’s the number of bicycles going past in a day and year – but could be totally wrong!

Tonight we got out the Safari Chef Gas BBQ and cooked up some tasty salmon, it’s ages since we had fish as it stinks Dave out for days. To accompany the salmon, Nuremburg sausages wrapped in tiger bread and a mini baked Camembert – we know how to live!!

Tonight we’ll sleep like logs knowing we won’t have an unexpected knock on the door in the middle of the night, that and a few beers from the supermarket!

Ju x


  1. You are correct about the second sign – it’s a cyclist counter showing how many per day and how many for the past year. This is followed by a short message thanking cyclists for helping to maintain an accessible city centre

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