Banking nightmare while going Dutch

Our camper van had been ordered over the Internet from Australia, and a company (“Socitie Civile”) set up so we could own it legally. It was now waiting for collection in the small French village of Veron, an hour’s train ride from Paris. But first we had to pay for it!

Our camper van awaits

Due to a technical hitch on our bank’s on-line site this took more than a week and many frustrating hours (over days) to organise. What should have been an easy two-step one-day process became a nightmare of international phone calls, emails and angst. However, at last the payment was made and in fact, much to our surprise, our bank not only reimbursed the extra fees involved because we ended up having to make several transactions instead of one, but also (a couple of months later) gave us Aus$200 in compensation for our trouble!

Payment seemed elusive but we had a great time “going Dutch” with our family
Enjoying the long warm evenings in Pieter and Hannah’s yard

In the meantime we had a wonderful time in Pijnacker, the Netherlands, staying with our daughter and her partner in their home for the very first time. It was a very special time as our son and his partner (based in Australia) also joined us there after their whirlwind tour of Scotland and Ireland.

Our first walk round Pijnacker revealed canals everywhere
With lots of bird life
And flowers everywhere

Pijnacker is a small town (population around 21,000) just 10 minutes bike ride from the stunning medieval canal-ringed city of Delft, home of the wonderful artist Vermeer and of course that blue and white china that seems to be popular through the generations.

Delft has many medieval buildings
….beautiful canals
The Nieuwe Kerk completed in 1496 stands I n Delft’s market square
The Girls relaxing by a canal in Delft
Examples of the China that Delft is so famous for
Happy family!
Clogs – how very Dutch.
This bridge lifts to allow canal traffic through
Delft is so picturesque
A photo waiting to happen around every corner

Delft’s city hall a Renaissance style building in the main square

A few steps away from our daughter’s front door is the market square where every Wednesday beautiful fresh flowers, fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, clothes and an assortment of other goods are sold.

The market square in Pijnacker on market day
The market square at night. There is a bar/restaurant in the white building
More of Pijnacker…

The train station is only a ten minute walk and in 12 minutes we could be in Rotterdam and 16 minutes The Hague. Amsterdam is just an hour away on the intercity train.

A few minutes cycle ride through fields brings you to this windmill which has a lovely cafe!

Surrounding the village (which boasts three supermarkets and a variety of other shops selling everything from shoes to bikes) are lovely lakes, woods, bike paths through fields, an aboretum two petting farms and lovely cafes. It’s such a great place to walk and cycle.

Sarah and cygnets at the nearby lake
A bit of posing going on!
There are some beautiful places to walk

And even swim
And of course cycle

While we were all together we had several visits to Delft and had a marvellous day in Leiden, birthplace of Rembrandt, which we explored by boat that we hired for the day.

Messing about on a Boat in Leiden
Delicious cocktails with fresh mint and loads of lime
Parked our boat for lunch in a canal side restaurant
Don’t fall in!
We had to go under some very low bridges
We even had to move this foot bridge so we could pass along the canal
Relaxing after a swim
Such a Dutch view!

We also met Pieter’s large and welcoming family for the first time which was great fun as we were able to celebrate Hannah’s birthday on their regular Wednesday evening dinner together (Mum, Dad and six siblings and partners plus five grandchildren).

The birthday girl
Hannah gets some help to open her gift
Mmm chocolate cake!
Celebrating with Pieter’s family

All too soon it was time for our son and his partner to return to Australia and for us to head to Paris to collect the camper van.

Quite expensive for a one-way ticket!

We had decided to go by train as we thought it would be a pleasant way to travel but being peak holiday time it was expensive and hard to find a booking that suited us. Our daughter suggested using Flixbus (apparently these run routes all over Europe and the USA) as a cheap alternative. We were amazed. The one way train ticket from Amsterdam to Paris would have cost EUR 120.22 each and the bus ticket was only EUR 49.98 for two! Better still the bus left from Rotterdam, nearer to our daughter’s and the terminus was close to the station (Gare de Bercy) where we were to take the train to Sens to collect the camper van.

This was much cheaper and more convenient too

The trip was just over six hours long and very comfortable with very comfortable reclining seats.

We spent the night in a small hotel very close to the station in a minute room with no air conditioning (and it was a sweltering night). Fortunately, a desk fan was supplied and we managed to open the windows to allow a bit of a breeze blow through.

Our very small (and hot) bedroom
At least we had a fan

One thing that you can be sure of in France is that where ever you go and whatever kind of cafe/restaurant/eaterie you visit, the meal you choose will be beautiful. So it was in our one night in Paris. We had a simple but delicious meal at the Bistro de Metro near Gare de Bercy. Beautiful surroundings, great service, lovely food and fantastic wine – all at a very inexpensive (by Australian standards) price.

Dinner was lovely though

The following day after breakfast at our hotel we headed for the train for the hour’s train round to Sens where we were to pick up our new home on wheels at long last !

On the way to Sens!
We went through some lovely countryside in the train
Arriving st Sens station

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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