Belgium is a small place in the majority of European people’s mind but not for the English. When an English man thinks Belgium he immediately immagines either Brugges or Brussels. And while Brussels is usually mentioned as the axis of evil, Brugges is a honoured travel destination. It is probably the closest and the prettiest among the towns you can get to and then come back to London within a day, the other one is Edinburgh and let’s be honest, there are three sunny days in a year there so you usually won’t even bother.
But I of course did not go to Brugges, as many English men I have been there way too many times. For me Belgium is a great place to drive through and boy can you drive here fast.
It is a flat world with wide open roads, I find it at least as good of a driving place as Germany, the only place better for a high speed adventure is Holland.
I spent my first night at a small town near Utrecht where there was a suitable Air BnB room. On my way there I saw about the most beautiful sunset imaginable.
The next day was all about Holland. It’s a shame I only drove through this beautiful country and did not stay here for a few days but living in the UK means you can always get to Holland so I had to keep going.
I decided to stick to the Northern route which took me through a beautiful town Leeuwarden, all small towns worth seeing remind me of parts of Amsterdam and Leeuwarden was no exception with its canals, hilly parks and bicycles.
Ah, and there I bought the coolest child’s book in the universe called “Let’s be friends” where characters on the illustrations have texture to them. Amazing stuff.
Netherlands – Feel the Contrast
The moment I crossed the Channel Tunnel I could feel the difference. I don’t know who decided that the UK was a European country, in my view it’s just as much of a part of Europe as Iceland and Faroe Islands (Brexit, my fellow Brits!)
Netherlands is a country of freedom, a place where you don’t see borders and fences and where there seemingly is no Big Brother whipping you each time you’ve done something wrong.
The devil is in the detail. Take, for example, the fact that there are over 30 speed cameras on the way from London to Dover and only one between Dover and Amsterdam… and that one is in France. The roads are wide and as smooth as your bathroom mirror. I don’t know what the word is for driving comfort but it’s certainly not there in England where they try and impose misery upon you with speed humps, narrow sections where metal poles are covered with scratches and paint of people’s damaged cars. All that just isn’t here.
But the best part is of course people. In England no one talks to you in the street, here people look into my eyes and approach me to start a conversation. This is amazing. The Australian guy I let my flat to said that he felt like women looked down upon him in England and I did not know how to cheer him up because it’s clearly the case. Here everyone is equal, more happy, much more sociable and creative.
I went to a library and met a very interesting lady. Kim was working on organizing an architecture fair. She dug out old blueprints of a cheese factory and was choosing the ones to take on display.
I don’t know if you have ever seen a blueprint but they are fascinating. They also had old advertising mock-ups!
I really liked seeing how she did her job, she was so fast and efficinet. Such a contrast with sleepy bankers at the old donkey sanctuary;)
Europe makes you feel like you are a capable and intersting person, I am sure I will see more of this as I keep moving through this amazing continent.
It is now time to head towards Bremen. Ah and by the way, do you remember Scrat from the Ice Age?
… sorry to bring you bad news, he is now here, in Grningen;)