TuesdaySeptember 27, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C
Back home now.
It is quite cool this morning and after a good breakfast we pack up for the last time. We visit the Cheese Museum in Alkmaar which is really interesting and informative and we are given a couple of pieces of cheese to eat while we watch a film about the history of cheese-making in the Netherlands. We set off for the ferry in good time and make a detour to the coast, we have lunch and a walk in a place called Katwijk. Arriving at the ferry around 5pm, we are soon on board and in our cabin, we have a drink in the sunset lounge and then go into dinner around 7pm before it gets too busy. It has been a fantastic three weeks, we have stayed in so many different places it's hard to remember them all and we have travelled through eight different countries. Looking forward to getting back home tomorrow, we are due into Hull early so we should be back home in Scawby by 8.30amRead more
The hotel is called Stad & Land and the train station is just across the road which is ideal for our trip to Amsterdam. Breakfast is served in the bar and it's very busy when we go in around 9.30am, we're not sure if everyone is a resident or if it's the place to be for Sunday breakfast in Alkmaar. We are welcomed by two of the young women we met yesterday and one of them kindly offers to print a map showing where we go when we get off the train.
Amsterdam is an extremely busy place with a staggering amount of people on bikes and thousands of bikes parked around the city. It's easy to believe that there are more bicycles than people in The Netherlands. It is misty when we catch the train but the sun soon breaks through and we enjoy walking by the side of the Canals and over some of the fantastic bridges. So many people but we manage to find an outside table in the sun and we have drinks and share a plate of hot nachos with jalapeños & cheese. Today is the warmest weather of our trip and we are the furthest north.Read more
Our 45th wedding anniversary today, we have a lovely Belgian breakfast before heading to our final destination of the trip, Amsterdam. It is very misty again as we set off but by 11am the sun is shining and around 12noon we arrive at the Dutch border. We are on the A9 and directly under the flight path into Schipol Airport, planes are flying in every couple of minutes. We arrive at our hotel in Alkmaar which is north of Amsterdam and we have to park in a car park a few minutes away. The friendly young women in charge at the hotel speak very good English and we have a cup of coffee with them before going to our room.
Tonight is a shopping event in Alkmaar and we set out to see what's happening. There are lots of people walking around and even more cycling around. Tall people on large bikes, hundreds of bicycles parked all over the city, it seems strange to see people dressed up to go out and riding a bicycle. There are so many cafes and restaurants to choose from, many with outside heaters as although it's a lovely evening it is getting cooler all the time. The shops are open until 11pm tonight and the streets are lit up with fairy lights, there are musicians and singers everywhere. A great atmosphere and a fabulous place.Read more
Breakfast in France, lunch in Luxembourg & dinner in Belgium just about sums up today! North East France is not a very popular tourist destination but it is an attractive area and includes the historic cities of Verdun, Metz, Nancy and Strasbourg. It is very rural, we see lots of cows and there are large areas of forest similar to The Black Forest area of Germany. We arrive in Luxembourg, fuel is only €1 which is the cheapest we've seen this trip, we stop for lunch at a very upmarket shopping centre and George buys me some earrings.
On into Belgium, no stopping or checks, we are staying in a really lovely chambre d'hote in the Ardennes and there is a chateau just around the corner. The owners are lovely people and the family Jack Russell is called Yoko, he's very friendly too.
Tonight we drive a couple of miles into Marche-en-Famenne and eat at a Moroccan restaurant, I have chicken with cous cous and George orders chicken pastilla which is a mixture of chicken, almonds and spices in a thin pastry, both delicious. I order mint tea, forgetting that the Moroccan's automatically sweeten it, so I have to order another pot without sugar. George drinks the first pot!Read more
We cannot see the River when we wake up, it's covered in mist and when we leave Macon at 10.30am the temperature is only 9c although the mist is slowly rising.
We did have our petit-dejeuner delivered to our room this morning but we went looking for it at 9.30am as we didn't understand that it would be left in a little passageway between her house and our room!
Around noon the sun starts to shine, we stop in Beaune which is a walled town in the centre of Burgundy and sit outside at a cafe for coffee, (George has a Kir)! The day has turned really hot and it is lovely to sit and watch the world go by. We continue our drive north heading for Nancy in the Moselle region. We see lots of large birds, buzzards, kites and at least one eagle. We are now in the Burgundy region and we drive through miles of vineyards in the valleys and slopes west of the Saone, We drive through Dijon, the capital of the Burgundy region with its trams and canals, it's lovely to keep off the payage today. We see some beautiful towns including Nuits St George's and Neuf Chateau, we drive over La Moselle River.
We stop off at a supermarket to buy something to eat tonight as we are getting tired of eating out every night. It is about 6.30pm when we arrive at Dommartin-sous-Amance, we are staying in a farmhouse tonight and are met by at least four very friendly dogs. We hope to have a look around Nancy tomorrow as we are just too tired tonight.Read more
Our hotel is in Tallard, near Gap in the Haute-Alpes, Provence region and the nearby aerodrome is the best known centre in France for parachute activities. We watch some sky diving as we have breakfast, the manager is very friendly and keeps coming to chat to us. There is a lovely blue sky this morning and we see a black squirrel as we leave.
We drive through the centre of Gap which is very busy, the area between Gap and Grenoble is stunningly beautiful and there are a few white clouds around the top of the Alps. We are following Route Napoleon which is the D1085, it's actually the route taken by Napoleon in 1815 on his return from Elba.
We are staying in a very unusual chambre d'hote in Macon tonight, it's decorated in an eastern style. It is just a few feet away from the River Saone and when we walk alongside we see a kingfisher land on the side of a boat and then take off again. Our host is a charming woman and she brings us glasses of red wine and tomatoes from the garden. There is a kitchen and I think she said she would bring us breakfast to our room in the morning, we'll see...Read more
Our first French breakfast of the trip is different types of bread and jam, I butter what I think is a slice of homemade brown bread and it's gingerbread, very nice though. Most of the day is spent driving through the Alps; we detour to Le Vernet to take a look at the memorial for germanwings flight 9525 where 150 people died when the plane was deliberately crashed by the co-pilot. The sign reads "Stele du Vol 9525". This happened in March 2015 which was two years after our first visit to this remote part of France. The simple memorial is a very moving sight, it is in the nearest accessible place to the actual crash site, the distant Alps are today topped with a dusting of snow. We see plenty of wildlife, a deer, a fox and several red squirrels.
Our next stop is in the very pretty town of Digne Les Bains but just before we reach the town there has been a road traffic incident and the police helicopter is hovering over the side of the highway. We have lunch in a little cafe next to a supermarket where George enjoys an hour or so choosing a dozen bottles of wine.
We drive to Sisteron, a town full of flowers and floral decorations, the wind is really strong now and it's difficult to walk around although it isn't cold and the sky is blue. We pop into an art gallery where there is an exhibition of paintings by artist Rene Seyssaud and then back to the car and onto our hotel in Clamensane.
We are later than usual arriving at the hotel as we have stayed here before and therefore we know where to find it. When the owner answers our knock at the door he tells us the hotel is closed for 3months and it is not possible that we have booked for the night. Booking.com have obviously made a mistake as we have the paperwork but it's already 5.30pm and we need a bed for tonight. He sends us a few miles to another village but the place is closed up, we head back to the main road north and try one or two places before we finally settle on a hotel on the road to Gap. It's one of the few places with tea making facilities and a fridge and as we have bought a salad and some hummus (& wine) we eat in our room.Read more
The day starts with an Italian breakfast, orange juice & really good coffee, fresh fruit, cereal & yogurt, toasted ham & cheese sandwich and cake & biscuits!! Our host insists on driving in front of us to the autostrada, we have quite a few miles to do today so we need to keep on the main roads for a while and we pay over 30€ in toll charges. We drive through the centre of Genoa and then back on the autostrada, through Monaco and into France. We stop in Nice to do a bit of shopping and fill up the car. Then we head inland and slowly climb up the Alps, the views at 3000ft are breathtaking but the roads are narrow with a sheer drop on one side. It takes quite a while to get up to Puget-Rostang and our hotel,
Auberge Du Riou in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, it is much cooler here although it has been cloudy all day. We have a ground floor room this time and because it's taken us a while to get up here we decide to eat here tonight.
We take a walk around the village and the sun has just decided to come out; it is a beautiful but remote place and we have a delicious meal in the auberge restaurant although we don't manage to eat it all.Read more
We really like this place where we are staying for a couple of nights it's a B&B and our hosts are friendly, they don't speak English but we are managing quite well. We take the train into La Spezia and onto Cinque Terre, it's a rugged piece of coastline on the Italian Riviera and comprises of five villages. The coastline, the five villages and the surrounding hillside are all part of The Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is reached by train, we buy a ticket and then get on and off at each village, it is a very popular tourist destination and today it's extremely busy. It is all fascinating, we didn't quite know what to expect but we have a fantastic day, it's very warm too. When we head back to La Spezia it is so busy that we only just manage to cram onto the train, an uncomfortable journey, thank goodness it's quite short. Our last night in Italy, we eat pasta & drink red wine in Sarzana before walking back to base. Heading for the French Alps tomorrow.Read more