After a fantastic but sometimes rugged round trip of roughly 12,000 kilometres through Scandinavia, we were ready to stop and catch our breath in Pijnacker, near Delft in the Netherlands, where our daughter is now living with her Dutch partner.
We had a great few days of relaxing, being looked after extremely well, and having looong showers (we do have a lovely shower on our van but we are always very careful about the amount of water we use as you never know when you will be able to fill up next.)
During our short stay we packed in quite a lot including a visit to a petting zoo (with borrowed child of course), listened to a local “Scottish” (yes, Scottish) pipe band in the town square and visiting a community garden where locals are encouraged to pick flowers and vegetables and if they wish, do some weeding.
We also visited Delft and had drinks in the Beestenmarkt – a charming square lined with nice cafes, bars and restaurants.
Delft is a beautiful, compact city with many canals and buildings dating back to the 16th Century and earlier, for example, the Oostpoort (Eastern gate), built around 1400. This is the only remaining gate of the old city walls.
One afternoon we had a glorious time exploring Delft’s botanical garden which is run by the University and boasts 7,000 species of plants and trees. We particularly enjoyed the various sculptures that were dotted about the walkways and the crow’s nest that you could climb up and be amongst the trees.
A particularly special day out was to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam which I last visited almost fifty years ago. Since that time the building has been extensively renovated and one of the excellent additions was a very good restaurant that was awarded a Michelin Star in 2017.
We had a delicious lunch there which set us up very well for viewing some of the 8,000 pieces of art hung in the museum.
The collection in Rijksmuseum contains masterpieces by artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals and many others. Such an amazing place even if you aren’t a huge fan of art!
Too soon it was time to leave for the next part of our adventure – Brittany, France’s northwesternmost region. We had both been longing to visit this fascinating part of the world which is famous not only for its wild beauty and rugged coastline but also its abundant prehistoric menhirs (a type of megalith).
Our first stop was in Amiens where we stayed for free in Parc Saint Pierre. This was a really great spot and we had a very peaceful night.
Before taking off again we had a lovely walk around the park and were able to see the remarkable Tour Perret – a 27-storey residential skyscraper built between 1949 and 1954.
We also caught sight of the famous Medieval Amiens Cathedral. Built between 1220 and c. 1270, the Cathedral is the tallest complete cathedral in France.
We would have loved to explore Amiens properly but were on a mission to get to Brittany. We vowed to return another day.