Harwich is a port on London’s East Coast & the Stena Hollandica is one of the two ships from Stena Line sailing on the route of Hook of Holland to Harwich. Aboard the Stena Line, we were each given a sea pass, which also allowed us access to our respective cabins. The ferry left shore (London) at 11.30 pm and reached Hook of Holland at 7.30am. We docked off from deck 9 and proceeded towards the immigration counter. The first stop was Madurodam, a model of a Dutch town on a 1:25 scale. Along the way, we passed the scenic countryside of Netherlands. There were flowers blooming everywhere & it was like a picture-perfect postcard (Sigh! How I wish I was there right now! 😦 ). With so much scenic beauty around, no wonder the Netherlands is ranked 8th in the list of “Happiest Countries of the World”. The Dutch seem to enjoy an idyllic life, either indulging in their favourite sport of ‘rowing’ or lazily cycling along the deserted lanes. But given the shortage of manpower in Netherlands, I’ve been told that the Dutch work very hard to earn their bread. Next we went to the Rembrandt cheese & wooden factory, where we got a first-hand demonstration of how cheese is made. We then stopped for lunch at Gandhi, a restaurant in Haarlem that serves North Indian food. After lunch, we headed for the canal cruise on lover’s boat. As we passed by the Amsterdam Airport, we got a chance to catch a glimpse of a plane taxing on the overhead runway across the highway. For a mere 13 Euros, the cruise on lover’s boat was definitely worth it. Then we drove to Brussels, a 3 and half hour drive. The first stop in Brussels was the Atomium, a gigantic monument with 9 steel spheres connected so as to resemble a magnified version of a unit cell of an iron crystal. We then proceeded to the Grand Palace, where we got to see the Mannekin Pis statue. We bought Belgian chocolates (Godiva) and feasted on waffles. That night, we stayed at Hotel Best Western and in the morning we left for Paris.
Did you know?
The Hague is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The Hague is the seat of the Dutch government and parliament, the Supreme Court, and the Council of State, but the constitutional capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is the national airline of the Netherlands.
Make sure you don’t miss out on the journey aboard the Stena Hollandica. She sails to the Netherlands from Harwich to Hook of Holland and at daytime she sails back to England. She can accommodate 230 cars, 300 freight vehicles, and 1200 passengers. The coaches & vehicles are loaded on deck 3, food is served on deck 9, all the duty-free shops are on deck 9, and the cabins are on deck 11 &12.
Madurodam is located in The Hague, in the Netherlands. For almost 60 years Madurodam has been the smallest city in the Netherlands. It is a model of a Dutch town on a 1:25 scale, composed of typical Dutch buildings and landmarks, as are found at various locations in the country. It was established for two reasons: as a war monument and as a charity foundation.
The Rembrandthoeve is situated on the Amsterdam border. Windmills and farms dot the landscape and central Amsterdam is only ten minutes away. The Rembrandthoeve is a traditional farm where wooden shoes/clogs and cheese are made.
Dam Square is a town square in Amsterdam. It houses The Royal Palace, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and The National Monument, a World War II monument entirely by white travertine stone.
The Royal Palace of Belgium is one of the most beautiful official buildings in the capital, Brussels.
The top sphere of the Atomium provides a panoramic view of Brussels. It is definitely worth a visit, if nothing else, at least to marvel at engineering sophistication.
The Grand Place/Grote Markt is the central market square of Brussels. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Town hall and the King’s house are located here.
After being exposed to the hustle-bustle of Indian towns, you will love the unusual calm and silence of the Netherlands. Most of you will want to plan your retirement here, at least that’s what happened with the group I was traveling with 😀
In Brussels, stop craving for Indian food & feast on the ice-creams & freshly-made waffles that are available everywhere 😛