Monday, 14 November 2016

T4rdis2 Tour 2 - Day 134 - 138 Germany

Day 134 and 135
Thursday 10th and Friday 11th November 2016

Not sure if I fancy that!
On Thursday morning we left Eckwarderhorne and headed for the town of Norrdeich - a North Sea Spa town that has the Frisian islands just off it's coast.  These include Borkum, Juist, Norderney, Baltrum, Langeoog, Spiekerroog and Wangerooge and all around them is the National Park Niedersachsisches Wattenmeer .  Apparently, the park was established to protect the unique ecosystem of the shallow seas, that at low tide, turns into a vast area of mud flats call 'The Watt'.

The Watt
Now, our guide book suggests that you could explore this area by paddling barefoot around it, but that would definitely not be on my bucket list of 'must do things' - yuk. However, once we'd settled in on our new Stellplatz we did decide to go for a walk (with our shoes on) in the late afternoon sunshine, and  we were very pleasantly surprised by the tourist friendly shoreline that had lovely walkways that took you right into the harbour.  You could also walk both on and below the dyke where you were rewarded with distant views of the islands, as well as ferry and fishing boats chugging to and from the islands.

Friday dawned bright and sunny, and just as John had predicted, warm enough to go for another ride, so we chose a route that took us along the concrete paved trail, which to start with put us on the sea side of the dyke where there were large numbers of sea birds 'grazing' on the mud flats.

The heron should be there somewhere
but I think I missed!
Eventually the route crossed back over to the land side of the dyke, and from there it wasn't long before we found ourselves crossing a huge nature reserve that was situated on a grassy flood plain. What more could we ask - warm sunshine and frequent sightings of numerous birds which included herons stalking their prey , majestic skuas in acrobatic flight, and large numbers of geese and ducks.

However, much as we were enjoying ourselves we'd decided not to go to far today, so once we reached the far side of the nature reserve at about 20kms into our ride, we stopped for lunch at the ferry port of Nessmersiel.  Then, once fed and watered we started our return journey, and it was on this leg that we saw a sight worth seeing!

Have I mentioned the geese - there are literally thousands of them in this part of the world, and they can often be seen in vast numbers feeding in the fields.  As we were cycling along we noticed such a group off to our left, but other than a quick glance we didn't really pay much attention, until a few seconds later I heard a great rushing and honking noise, which at first I thought was a motorised vehicle .  Then, as we looked behind the whole flock had taken off on mass, and as they flew overhead the sky almost became dark - and I did wonder if we would need our brolly!

They were a magnificent site to see, especially in relation to the formations in which they flew.  Apparently, they fly in a V shape to assist their neighbours - when each goose flaps it's wings it creates an uplift for the birds that follow, so by flying in this manner the whole flock can fly much further than if each bird flew alone. And a bit like big groups of cyclists -   when the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose takes over it's position - and why do they make such a noise - the honking is supposed to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Because we hadn't gone too far we got back to T4rdis2 about 3ish, so after a quick cuppa we went for a walk back up onto the dyke to see if we could spot any more birds on the mud flats, but no.  It was a lovely sunny ending to the day and there were loads of people out walking, and lots of them with dogs, so there was hardly anything to see - except another lovely sunset.

Day 136
Saturday 12th November 2016 - A cold frosty morning but with plenty of bright sunshine

This morning, as we peeked out of our windows we could see that Jack Frost had been out to play and splattered the Stellplatz liberally with a dusting of powder white frost that made everywhere look like a wonderful winter wonderland.  But it wasn't very wonderful inside T4rdis2 - it was bitter cold at only about 6 degrees!  And that was because we were using electricity to heat the van overnight, and sometime in the small wee hours our 'bob' must have ran out, and sods law, it was my turn to get up and make the tea.  So I very quickly leaped out of bed, switched over to diesel heating, stuck the kettle on, and then jumped back into my pit while things warmed up.

By 8.30 we were toasty again so our day could start properly - another moving day, and after 96 days in Germany we're waving goodbye to it and moving on (and homewards) to the Netherlands - but first we had to escape from this Stellplatz!  It was one of those where you pay on exit, so we duly put our ticket into the machine and it rudely asked for the extortionate sum of 48 euros when it should only have been 22.  We asked the machine to spit out ticket out again but it wasn't keen on that idea, so then we had no choice other than to press the button for 'help', and keep our fingers crossed that the person providing it could speak English.  She did, but only in a limited fashion, however eventually we made ourselves understood, and after visiting a nearby sports centre, we were given a ticket that facilitated our escape, but only after we'd paid extra for the towns Kurtax!

Then we were on our way, but we couldn't leave without paying  a final visit to one of Germany's Lidls to stock up on 'plonk' for Christmas - now all we have to do is make sure it's hidden away so that we don't indulge before the appointed time!

And really, there's not much else to say about today.  We're in the Netherlands now and parked on a campsite near the settlement of Koudum, and right on the side of a massive lake that is linked by canals to the North Sea.  After our long drive John was quite tired, so other than a short exploration walk around the site and down to the waters edge we haven't done much, and as we plan to move on to Amsterdam tomorrow we will probably have to save exploring this area until another time.  So the only thing we need to do this evening is keep our fingers crossed that the rain that is forecast for overnight doesn't result in us getting stuck on our already  slightly wet and slippery grass pitch when we try and move on in the morning!

Day 137
Sunday 13th November 2016 -  Wet, grey and miserable!

Well, did we get stuck? No, but it was a very close thing - T4rdis2 set off ok, but as we crossed the 10 foot strip of grass towards the road we started to slid  - and unfortunately left deep gouges in there pristine lawn - oh well, it wasn't our fault, they had told us to park there!

Then we were on our way to the only Stellplatz in Amsterdam, which turned out to be on the opposite side of a large body of water to where most of the tourist part of the city is, but we felt this wouldn't be a problem because the ferries run every 5 mins and are free.  The Stellplatz itself turned our to be a mechanised secure one with a high fence all around - in fact it was so secure that we got locked out - while all our worldly goods (including T4rdis2) were locked in! On arrival we'd had to pay at a machine and take a ticket which electronically operated the huge gates, that once opened, allowed you 8 seconds to drive in, however we did note that there was a pedestrian access at the side which we planned to use later.   As usual, we got settled and then went for a walk through the dank and dirty litter strewn streets where redevelopment and building sites seemed to lurk on every corner (I think the pristine-ness of Germany has spoiled us).   Eventually, we made it down to the water front from where the ferries left, and here it all seemed a bit more presentable with cafes, museums and futuristic buildings lining the shore line - we even found this bicycle 'race track' - however, you'd have to be very sure your brakes were good if you were going to have a go!  

But the weather was miserable and cold, so we were soon on our way home - only to find the pedestrian entrance to the Stellplatz very firmly locked and only accessible with your pass card - and guess where ours was - yes, it was very safely stowed inside T4rdis2.  So there we stood dithering in the freezing rain looking like 2 big drips - until a very kind Dutch lady came to our rescue - but she did tell us off and to make sure we didn't do it again!

Day 138
Monday 14th November 2016 - It's still raining and cold!

We couldn't quite work out how they parked
them on the top row!

Today was our day for sightseeing in Amsterdam, so despite the weather off we went - for the mile and a half walk to the ferry, and then across the water into the main part of the city.  Oh and did I mention the bikes - the're everywhere, hundreds and thousands of them so you have to be extremely careful when not only crossing the roads, but the bike lanes as well.  On both sides of the water there are massive bike parks that were crammed full of with every conceivable sort of bike you can imagine, and some with very inventive seating arrangements for 2 or 3 passengers!

The ferry dropped us off just outside Amsterdam Central Station, but as we didn't want to catch a train we just passed straight through and headed into the very eeclectic shopping streets where you could buy everything from Dutch cheese, clogs, tulips, liquor and favours from ladies who practice one of the oldest professions in the world!  We also spotted numerous places where you could not only buy all kinds of smoking paraphernalia, but also something special to go with them.

This massive tree was
hanging from the ceiling!
We visited Dam Square with it's Royal Palace, Madame Tussaud's, and Museums dedicated to what Amsterdam is famous for; we pottered around some of the canal region and maybe viewed more than we bargained on; and we visited The Magna Plaza with it's very upmarket shops and lovely Christmas decorations.  But even though we walked for many miles, overall we remained unimpressed by the City's attractions, and even a visit to The Body World Museum didn't change our minds (We'd really wanted to go to the Anne Frank Museum but the queue was horrendous). Therefore,  I don't think it will be on our 'come back soon' list, but having said that, I'm sure we'll find plenty of other places here that we do like!

So tomorrow we will move again, probably to a campsite on the coast, so fingers crossed for some sunshine, but that's all for now so take care xx