The next day we
drove into Leiden, where there was free parking on a Sunday until 1pm,
and walked around the old city centre, with its canals and historic
buildings. We returned to the campsite via the many colourful
bulbfields, then walked across the dunes through a nature reserve to a
deserted sandy beach.
visit to Keukenhof Gardens is essential
and they were at their best, despite the crowds and occasional rain
showers. As well as the magnificent beds of tulips, the gardens had much of interest, including many
modern sculptures, an old windmill, show gardens, and flower arrangements and displays in the indoor pavilions. We had
bought entrance tickets
in advance but queued to buy a parking ticket, then discovered we could
have bought it at any time during our visit as it operated a pay on
exit system. There were a few rows allocated for motorhomes but no
overnight parking was allowed.
Floral displays outdoor . . .
. . . and indoor arrangements
and a show garden with sauna
next morning, we headed north on the main road through Haarlem, but met a
long traffic holdup, so turned towards Amsterdam then realised we would
have to cross a wide ship canal. Luckily there was a vehicle ferry by
an industrial estate which enabled us to get back to the motorway near
Alkmaar. As we needed to get some food we drove through the town centre,
but didn't find any supermarkets except a small Lidl on a housing
estate, so we continued north and crossed the Afsluitdijk,
almost dead straight, 30 kilometres long, dyke which separates the
Waddenzee from the inland Ijsselmeer, stopping at the viewing
tower where there were display panels explaining the massive feat
of engineering, completed in 1933, to reclaim a vast area and protect
much of the Netherlands from flooding.
Now heading east we reached the
town of Leeuwarden in Friesland, and turned off through the flat and almost treeless
fields to the small town of Dokkum, where we stopped overnight at a
small campsite within a short walk of the old town centre, with traditional buildings lining the canal.
Friesland typical half thatched house