Relaxing in the Hague and Cycling to Rotterdam - Dutch Summer Days

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Saturday 7 June 2014

Relaxing in the Hague and Cycling to Rotterdam - Dutch Summer Days

After discussing whether to head north to the quiet, beautiful Norwegian scenery or south to bustling sunshine of the Alps, we settled on a third option this week - stay in Holland a little longer. We were all prepared to hit the road when someone pointed out that this weekend is another Dutch 3-day weekend (Pinksteren), along with much of the rest of central and northern Europe who still take a national holiday on Whit Monday.  Not wanting to set off into predicted traffic jams and with heaving campsites, coupled with some fantastic sounding weather forecasts, we decided to stay in Holland but having rested up for the first week, we'd start getting out and about a little more and enjoying some of the local sights.

We'd spent a busy Monday doing some last minute shopping in Rijswijk to get some essentials for on the road and making some changes to the organisation in the motorhome.  So on Tuesday we put our feet up and enjoyed the sunshine before a short cycle ride along the coast towards the Hague before heading to see Oma for dinner and catching a beautiful sunset in the evening. We also discovered another new mascot for our tour - The Hup Holland Hamsters! Now we're no football fans, but apparently there is some sort of tournament happening this month and the Albert Heijn supermarket chain has a team of 23 excitable football mad Hamsters to collect.  We like hamsters and these little guys just make us smile Click here to see them in action.

At the market - note the heavy bags
We started on Wednesday with a trip into the centre of the Hague to visit an organic farmers market to pick up some more fruit and veggies. It was a real treat to find stalls packed with fresh, vibrant coloured veggies picked that morning. In additional there were also the smells of fresh bread and pastry stalls, local cheese producers, dried goods and wild mushrooms among others. Plus, I am a big fan of another Dutch convention allowing customers to taste food before they buy it - I must have got through 20 wild tomatoes at that stall. I've seen people ask in Britain, but here it is normal to have a sign up that says "free tasting" or to have a plate of samples regularly topped up. It must work as we had kilos of produce to take home.

Outside the Binnenhof
After the market we also took some time to wander round the centre of the Hague and take in some of the Binnenhof, a complex of state buildings, which sits oddly juxtaposed with high rise towers. It's also ridiculously accessible since you can just wander in and around at leisure. There was also a busy square with activities associated with the Hockey World Cup being hosted here in the Hague and a large screen to watch the latest match.

Circus time
Thursday started with a beach walk that was half lovely. Heading north with a tailwind enjoying the view from the park towards Scheveningen, we started to feel some drops of rain. We decided to turn around and dashed up to the boulevard to let the rain pass. It didn't. In a brief interlude we set off to walk home and 2 minutes later the deluge began. We got back dripping and having to wring out everything we were wearing. But once dry, we had a treat to look forward to, a trip to the circus with Esther having grabbed some free tickets in the Hague. That afternoon we got to enjoy 2 hours of free acrobatics, juggling and fire breathing.

With the forecast heatwave beginning yesterday we chose to spend the day outside so took to the bikes to ride a roughly 80km loop to Hoek van Holland, Rotterdam, Delft, Wateringen and back to Kijkduin. The winds were light, the sun was warm and the cycle paths were peaceful (most of the time). It's nice to be able to ride on smooth tarmac completely away from the busy road network. Overall trip took us about 6 hours with stops for lunch and to wander around Rotterdam a while, although to be honest I much preferred being out in the countryside and the busy bustling centre of Rotterdam was a bit of a shock, although we did enjoy the old harbour and the Euromast.  If you like you can apparently pay to run up it and have a go at the record. Neither of us felt like that though. Maybe next time.

We particularly enjoyed stopping off in Delft on the way home as we'd spent time there during our previous trips to Holland, particularly with Esther's Oma and Opa eating pancakes in the square. The city, famous for it's pottery is especially pretty with little canals (grachten) which we wandered along. Just 20km left to go, and with a brief trip to see Oma to have a quick cup of tea, we were soon back just as the sun set to end a lovely day.

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