• Category Archives Europe
  • European Vacation (2011)

    Posted on by rob

    At around 0430 AM on Monday April 11th we set out for nearly a week long holiday on the continent. The trip started by driving from Cambridge to Dover where we got the ferry for Calais, France. We’d arrived nearly an hour early due to a bit of bad planning on my part but also due to no traffic on the roads at that insane hour. We’d arrived at the ferry port an hour early and managed to get put on an earlier ferry.  This was was great as it meant we could get to Disney that much earlier and also avoid more rush hour traffic around Paris.

    Once in France it was a very straightforward drive to get to Disneyland Paris.  I think we got checked into the hotel, “Disneyland Hotel”, about 90 mins early. Not a problem as the kept our cases for us and gave us our park tickets so we could start to enjoy the park without delay.

    The kids (and you can safely assume for the rest of this posting that I am including Yuki as one of "the kids") were mental and wanted to see the characters and get on some rides.

    Read on if you want to read all the details of trip SmileThis is a long read .. so brace for it Smile with tongue out

    Continue reading  Post ID 809


  • Holland 2009 – Days 4 and 5

    Posted on by rob

    Days 4 and 5.  We started the day much as other days, breakfast in the hotel, Lisa loves the waffles the most.  They are quite good that’s for sure.  On Thursday they had Chocolate ones, so that was a nice treat from the normal ones with chocolate spread on it.

    Wednesday, it was back to the Albert Cuypstraat Market again for a couple of things that we didn’t get the day before.  We’d only walked a small part of that market.  Then it decided we’d take in the Tropenmuseum.  This is quite the place.  Four floors of Dutch history centred around the Caribbean and tropical areas.  They also had a great “Getting to know China” tour in a special area of the museum, the only problem was it was given entirely in Dutch by a Chinese guy.  It would have been nice for a just a little bit of English to be given, but oh well.  They covered the Chinese art of Tai Chi and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chinese cuisine, Chinese writing with hair and feather pens.  They also spoke about Chinese traditions for celebrating and honouring the dead and Chinese tea ceremony’s and different famous Chinese teas.

    I have heaps of photos from the museum which I’ll get up shortly.  After the museum we headed for the “China District”, which is just on the edge of the Red Light district.  Bloody shame too, we had to walk through the RLD twice again that day 😉  We had lunch at a Chinese Dim Sum restraunt.  The sign outside (I have a photo somewhere) that read “All you can eat for 8.95, in 1 hour” haha

    After stuffing ourselves with Chinese food and leaving the owner suffering from a minor stroke having witnessed the awesome eating power of Yuki (I’m certain he’ll change his sign either increasing the price the cutting the 1 hour to 30 mins), we headed back to Nieuwendijk and Kalverstraat shopping areas and Dam square.  One of the tram drivers from a previous day liked his job a lot, when we approached Dam square his announcement over the tannoy was something like “Now stopping at the Dam square, all those going to the Dam square get off here at the Dam square”.  We wandered around the square and got a photo with all the girls and Batman, which nearly made Emma cry, what a scary cat.  Yuki then went to the Amsterdam Diamond Centre.  I stayed around the square with the kids.

    After that it was back to the hotel, rather early then previously, but we were all completely knackered.  Poor Yuki, when we got back to the hotel we’d found out the Internet had been shutdown due to some technical problem (apparently their open wifi was used by spammers or something so the ISP killed their connection for 24 hours).  It was a long and boring night with no Internet haha

    We all just chilled out for a while then about 1830 Lisa and I walked down the street to the Domino’s Pizza and picked up a medium pizza and some chicken wings for dinner and took it back to the hotel room.

    Thursday morning we got all packed up and had breakfast and got a taxi back to the Olympic Stadium Park and Ride.  We had too much stuff to carry on the Trams there, it was just easier.  The Park and Ride was by far the best bargain of the trip, 6 Euro per day, so 24 Euro and the car was kept safe in a well lit, underground 24hr guarded parking facility.  I was well impressed.  Anyone planning to drive to Amsterdam should seriously consider using the P-n-R facilities they have, it’s cheap and easy for sure!  Wish more cities has those sorts of secure short/longish term parking facilities.

    We then made our way back towards the Hook of Holland port, taking our time and exploring some of the county lanes along the way.  There weren’t many windmills to be seen really, to really experience those you need to get on a bus tour from Amsterdam .. we didn’t bother as they were quite expensive and very long.. they were 32 Euro for each adult and 16 for each of the kids plus they were 5 ½ hours out on the go.  There’s no way the kids would have survived that trip 🙂

    We took a bunch of photos of the countryside and settled in the Hook of Holland to explore the small town here and have lunch before getting on the ship.  We found a nice little clothing shop and managed to find Yuki a cute PJ set with Snoopy on it (that’s her fav), plus we picked up a bunch of things for the kids and I got a fleece jacket I’ll keep at the office (since our AC is mental and seems to be set on “Fend off Global Warming” mode all the time), that was a bargain as well, a huge bag of clothes for 40 something Euro.  Much better then shopping in Amsterdam haha

    That brings me to the current time, 1426hrs.  Currently sitting on deck seven of our ship just waiting for them to cast off and hoist the mainsails, heave the anchors and get the cat-o-nine-tails out to encourage the rowing team to crack on with the crossing.

    Yuki has given up on getting online for now and decided to sack out over 3 chairs and try and sleep.  It’s highly unlikely that will happen, now with our kids.

    Speaking of the kids, they’ve been in the kids play area for about the last hour or so since we boarded the ship.  We’re sat right next to the kids area, I’m not sure if that was a good or bad idea.. haha we can see the kids but we can also HEAR them too.. do they sell mufflers for children?  If not they should, there’s a fortune waiting for the smart bugger that brings that to market!!

    Right, enough for now.. we have about 7 hours until we land I think.. then it’s straight home with the kids and get them to bed.  We’ll deal with the aftermath of the clothing and bags tomorrow or something.  I’ll be ready for bed myself as son as I walk in the door I think.

    Good bye Amsterdam and Holland, it’s been mostly good but had it’s moments as well.  Can’t say we’d hurry back again, but mostly that’s just because of the cost of visiting verses a couple of bad experiences.


  • Holland 2009 – Day 3

    Posted on by rob

    Day 3 started early again, what day with two kids doesn’t. Breakfast in the hotel again then off to shop till we drop.. Ok by that I mean follow Yuki around until we drop. We walked from the hotel east to Van Woustraat, then north 4 or so blocks to Albert Cuypstraat, Amsterdam’s biggest, oldest and most famous open market. We were a bit early for shopping again but managed alright. In and out of what seemed like 200 shops and stalls. We walked the entire length of Albert Cuypstraat to the end at De Pijp.

    Once there we found a nice kebab shop where we had what appears to have been a faeces free lunch, much to our delight. After lunch it onto a tram heading towards the Central Station. We ditches the tram at the Rokin and Grimburgwal stop. There was a tour boat leaving in 15 mins so we got out tickets and boarded for a 1hr tour. Sadly this boat didn’t do cover the canals through the Red Light district, however it was still very good. It has a GPS triggered multi lingual playout system for the commentary which was neat.

    Once back, we embarked on a monumental walk which I will try to work out with google earth later… But it went from the Allard Pierson Museum NNE along Kloveniersburghwal, down Oude Hoogstraat, before entering the Red Light District we stopped for a snack.. Another experience of cost of living here.. 2 average sized chocolate dipped donuts with sprinkles, 1 chocolate topped waffle with crushed peanuts, a coffee, a bottle of Lemon Ice Tea and use of the bathroom … €14. Unreal!!

    Now we set off to the Red Light District. I have to admit I was a bit bothered about having the kids there, just on principle. However, seeing how many other famines there were made me feel better… Two wrongs might not make a right but it give some validation haha. It was interesting and loads of ladies hanging out in their windows looking for punters to ‘do business’ with. The place was very clean and tidy. I’m sure its much more impressive at night though. We leave that area and head WNW through the Warmoesstraat district, mostly sex shops, sex screening and what not, then out past Beure van Berlage shop, sort of your Harrods of Amsterdam I guess, 6 floors of ass dragging shopping goodness.

    We then joined Nieuwendijk and headed SSW on there till we reached Dam Square. We continued south along Kalverstraat till its very bitter end at the Kalvertoren and the Flower Marker… tulips, tulips, tulips…. And yup more tulips. Bulbs for mile.

    Right, for those keeping locational tabs, we are now (still on foot I might add) at the corners of Singal (flower market), Heiligeweg, Koningsplein and the start of the Leidsestraat shopping area. We now walk SW for the full length of this area, starting to remember some of the muddle we found ourselves in yesterday looking for tram tickets.

    Getting hungry again due to the now 4 or 4.hrs that have passed since walking..er I mean lunch. I’ getting a union signed up for my next holiday! We found a nice little Mexican place and ordered 5 starters, those left us stuffed. Total damage was only €31, a record for the week!!

    Right, fed watered and leaked we were now able to get back to the hotel to get the kids a much needed bath. That simply consisting getting 2 trams with a change. Luckily we guessed right and even managed our stops without the need for one of our soon to be patented

    ‘oh shit missed the stop, never mind, get off at the next on and either walk back or tram back, screw that its too far just get a tram’

    This time it all worked out perfectly, how said you can’t teach imports new tricks. The rest of the evening was uneventful back in the room. We should be fully chilled out and ready for tomorrow…..

    Posted by Wordmobi
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  • Holland 2009 – Day 1

    Posted on by rob

    The day started stupid early today… Aggravated by the fact it was also the day we changed the clocks. We got up about 445 to get ready to head out for the Sterna Ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland. The drive to the ferry was nearly uneventful… Lisa had a coughing spell and ended up throwing up in the car, so a stop was in order to clean her and the car. We arrived in good time for boarding the ferry.

    Once on-board we made out way to a window seat near the front of ‘Food City’ close to the kids play zone. We had breakfast on board then the kids disappeared to the play area only to return for nibbles and drinks and the occasional potty break. Just after lunch a magician came out to the kids play zone and put on a show for about and hour… He was like the pied piper, kids from far and wide appeared to watch his magic and balloon tricks.

    The arrival and disembarkation was uneventful, as was the drive to Amsterdam, well mostly. A couple of wrong turns due to clarity issues of the GPS coupled with the giggling at it speaking road names of infinite length.

    We attempted to get to the hotel to unload the car, that failed as there was no where to stop for blocks.. Literally. We decided to just got the Park and Ride at Olympisch Stadion. Here can park for just €6/day (24hrs). That comes with a free tram/bus pass to and from the PnR. We made it to Albert Cuypstraat on the tram and stopped to feed the kids at McD’s. Then it was about a 10 min walk to the hotel.

    I failed to notify my over zealous bastard of a bank, who might I add will shut down my credit card at the very thought of a foreign purchase, shut down my card when the hotel attempted payment. A quickish call to them and several insults at them later had my card restored to service.

    That pretty much brings me to now as I am typing this blog entry… Lisa is sleeping, Emma is fussing about and Yuki is on my laptop and that leaves me on my phone to blog 🙂 that pretty much does it for day on in Holland. Stay tuned for the results of day 2, tomorrow.

    Posted by Wordmobi


  • Finally in Scotland…

    Posted on by rob

    Well we are finally here in Scotland.. but not quite in Mull yet.  We departed Gav’s (M1BXF) house today about 1030 am.. a short stop at Huntingdon for some breakfast then it was anchors away and northward bound.  We had a very uneventful trip north.  Saw a couple of accidents on the way but nothing that effected us.

    We arrived in Helensburgh at Gav’s folks house for the night.. we arrived about 1915hrs.  All in all not a bad trek considering all the kit we had in the Jeep and on the trailer.  I’ll provide pics of that later and post a link as well.

    We had a great dinner “ruby murry” (Curry, it’s cockney rhyming slang haha) .. then a quick trip to the pub for a couple of drinks and finally back to the house.

    We’ll set out Saturday morning about 10am for Oban where we are booked for a 1400hrs sailing of the ferry to Mull.  I should be able to post to more later if we have Internet.. if we at least have telephone and I get SMS messages out to Twitter and you can follow our adventures on my twitter page .. http://twitter.com/m1xzg, or check out things out on the CAMB-HAMS page.

    Hope to get more post later on..