So, what do you do when you have a swim meet in Germany on a Saturday and an entire Sunday to kill before a ferry crossing? Spend it in Amsterdam of course!
For this trip, we’d taken the Eurotunnel through France, but we decided to give the overnight ferry from Hook of Holland to Harwich, UK a try so we could take a detour to Amsterdam. We researched a place to park where we could somewhat easily walk to the town centre.
Our first stop in Amsterdam was lunch! With three of us requiring gluten free, finding a place to eat in a foreign country is always a crazy experience. Due to a gluten free blog, we found a place called Bagels and Beans. Now, one thing the blog didn’t mention was that while they serve gluten free, it’s very easily contaminated in their small kitchen. At the time, we were hungry and decided to chance it, but it’s always better to know up front whether it’s good for celiacs or not.
From there, we walked the bridges and canals. While I saw an art exhibition I would’ve loved to see, we kept going and enjoyed the walks rather than something indoors since we spent the day before in a huge indoor pool. We did joke around in one of the souvenir shops, looking at the selection of Cannabis candy.
Our last stop of the day was Hard Rock Cafe. One thing about traveling Europe gluten free. If you’re in a large enough city and can’t find gluten free, Hard Rock Cafe is an option! We then bought the obligatory t-shirt before we walked back to our car to head for the ferry.
The one thing I found tricky about locating the ferry is there’s no specification for which Stena Line port is which online or when you map it. We ended up at the freight port and had to backtrack about forty minutes to get to the passenger terminal. Thank goodness we always leave some extra time!
Stena Line runs two ferries between Harwich and the Hook of Holland-Stena Britannica and Stena Hollandica. You drive on and park your car. We booked a cabin for the night which had four bunkbeds and would fit five since one is wider than the rest. We checked out the boat and my husband and I ordered a cheese plate (which they had gluten free bread for!) and a bottle of wine at the bar to enjoy before we settled in for the night. We’d boarded about seven o’clock, so we had plenty of time.
I’ve found it a bit difficult to settle in on the boat for the crossing. It’s not that it’s rough but probably that it’s a new place. We pulled into port before six a.m. and my husband was ready to jump in the car and head out, but they off-load the lorries (eighteen wheelers) before the car passengers. Meanwhile, the other passengers eat breakfast.
The ship then plays “Don’t Worry Be Happy” when it reaches time to disembark. It’s definitely not a bad way to travel and we’ve used the ferry since. The second time was for another swim meet in Eindhoven, Netherlands. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to sightsee for that trip since the competition took up the entire weekend. We did, however, take the ferry in both directions that time. I will say on both occasions, I found the customer service much better on the passage from the Hook of Holland to the UK versus the trip out to the Hook of Holland. The crew was much friendlier and the process when we reached port was simply better.
Next up . . . National Gallery London and Tate Modern