2020 was due to be our 10th consecutive trip to The Netherlands. Unfortunately, world events and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has put a stop to that. Rather than dwell on what might have been, I thought I’d take the opportunity to look back at our previous trips to The Netherlands.
This is part 6, looking at the second leg of our 2014 camping trip in August. You can find part 1 here, looking at 1989-2011, part 2 here, looking at 2012, part 3 here, looking at 2013 and part 4 here, looking at June 2014.
After staying at Camping Geversduin, we were probably a little disappointed when we first arrived at Camping Bakkum. Compared to Geversduin, Bakkum is a very different type of campsite.
While a reasonable size, Geversduin didn’t feel that big and was almost cosy. Bakkum was significantly bigger and had a very different feel to it, almost sprawling. There were many more pitches, with lots of them occupied by holiday homes. From what I understand, many of the holiday homes were available for seasonal lets and often let by families from Amsterdam, who use them as their weekend retreat.
Our pitch was okay, but not brilliant. It was in a large field, surrounded by trees and was looking a little tired by the time we were there. There was a gap through to the next field in the middle of the pitch and we had quite a few people using it as a shortcut to the facilities. That was quite annoying. In the end, we had to rig something up across the pitch to stop it.
With a bigger campsite, came more facilities. There were a lot more options for places to eat and drink compared to Geversduin. There was also sports facilities and an outdoor auditorium at Bakkum, though I think the kid’s play area was better at Geversduin. This was 6 years ago though and things might have changed since.
It’s not that didn’t enjoy ourselves at Bakkum, we had lots of fun there. It’s just we felt like we should have stayed at Geversduin. The weather wasn’t quite as good by then, which will have affected our mood also. This also meant swapping trips to the beach with some days out at nearby cities and not cycling as much.
Haarlem was somewhere we’d been before, back in 2013. We liked the city and wanted to return to see more of the place. Haarlem isn’t that far from where we were staying in Casticum, about 30km. We also passed it on the drive up through The Netherlands when we came over.
Conveniently, there’s a sprinter train from Castricum to Haarlem, so we jumped on the train that quickly took us into the city. From Haarlem Station, we headed into the centre for a day of wandering.
As I said previously about our 2013 visit, Haarlem is a very walkable city. This is true of many old Dutch cities. Typically, the high density and narrow streets that come with walled cities, combined with very low levels of traffic make the perfect combination.
We have quite a few walled towns and cities in the UK, though many are dominated with motor traffic and parking, making them much less attractive places to be.
The kids were keen to return to Meneer Paprika, the toy shop with a café we went to on our last visit. As last time, it was very pleasant to stop for a coffee there, while the kids played.
After a day of wandering, it was time to head back to our campsite. Somehow, we managed to get on the wrong train and found ourselves on the outskirts of Amsterdam, oops! Thankfully, we were able to get a train back to Haarlem quite quickly and get on the right train.
It had been a few years since we’d been to Amsterdam. Our friends were no longer living there, meaning there was less of a reason to go. So we decided to head over there for a day trip, now that the kids were a little older.
We decided to drive there and make use of one of the park and ride facilities. We parked at the Olympic Stadium, in the car park below. This gave us the opportunity to have a quick look round before jumping on a tram to the centre.
Once in the centre, we started by spending some time at Museumplein. This was when the ‘I amsterdam’ sign was still outside the Rijksmuseum, attracting lots of people for a photo opportunity (including ourselves). While it can get a little busy here, it’s such a wonderful space. One of many lovely public spaces in the city.
Leaving there, we jumped on another tram to Centraal Station and headed to the Amsterdam Public Library (OBA). As I mentioned before, my partner is an academic librarian, so we have a tendency to end up in interesting libraries. I guess it makes up for me making geeky visits to bits of cycling infrastructure!
The Public Library is a pretty great space, especially the children’s section. There’s also a fantastic outdoor terrace on the 7th floor. This is part of the restaurant, which at the time we went was a La Place, but it has since changed. From the terrace, you can see some pretty amazing views of Amsterdam, we really enjoyed having our lunch while looking over Amsterdam.
After lunch, we decided to go on a boat tour of the city. It had been a few years since we’ve done this and never with the kids. While it is a bit touristy, you do get to experience the city from a different perspective, and everyone knows much Amsterdam is defined by its waterways. We enjoyed the boat tour, though the kids got a little bored. They were probably a bit too young at the time to enjoy it.
Soon the day was over and we were on the tram back to the Olympic Stadium to collect the car and head back. That was almost the end of our stay at Camping Bakkum. After another evening at the campsite, it was time to pack everything away and head to our final campsite, Duinrell.