Holland-but not Amsterdam-1

Like many travelers, for me, Holland was equal to Amsterdam, until we did our great Germany-Holland road trip with our super car a few years ago. After a few days of traveling around the Rhein and Mosel rivers, with fine riesling tastes (Which you can read from my previous posts), we headed to further North on a Monday morning, in late August, leaving our 4-day-home in Unkel and moving to our new 4-day-home in Den Haag. Holland trip was first time for our son, but second time for us.

View form our room

View form our room

Before reaching our new home, our first stop was Utrecht. Utrecht is a very typical Holland city, lots of canals and lots of bicycles, tiny cafes and restaurants around the canals and a huge bell tower. It was about 12.00 noon when we parked our car and found ourselves by a canal and heard the musical sound of the bells. We first just lost ourselves on streets, looking, shopping and searching for something to eat. After lunch we took one of the canal boats to listen the tour guide about the city a bit and see anything if we have missed. And finally, at the last (and the first) stop of the canal boats, just across the canal there was a famous De Oude Munkelder a pancake restaurant where you find dozens of kinds of Pancakes. Our stomachs full we went on driving to Den Haag, to our hotel.

A few hours after leaving Utrecht, we were at our hotel, which was very convenient in parking (which is very important if you have a BMW 740) and were just by a little shopping area, with some nice restaurants by the lake.

Cows of Holland

Cows of Holland

The next day, we drove our car to west, to visit Rotterdam and Antwerp. It is a pity that I did not have much time to study these two nice cities in advance. So in Antwerp, we did not do anything special. Just wandered around, with the main principle of “follow the crowd”. We came across with a big pedestrian road of shopping area. Fine by me, not for “the boys”. After a few hours, we got on our car and drove to Rotterdam. Again I remember nothing special about the city, except the cubic houses and the tower we got on, so that we could view the city from one point.

View from the tower, in Rotterdam

View from Euromast-Space Tower, in Rotterdam

View from Euromas

View from Euromast-Space Tower, in Rotterdam

When we decided to return our hotel, we still had time to go around, so we decided to stop at Madurodam, I suppose it is among the first of the “mini cities” sights in the world. With our son, we have been to Mini Swiss in Lugano and Miniaturk in Istanbul before. We and our son love to visit these sights which provides chance to explore the culture and best places of the country. The canal houses, airport, concert hall, stories of water, flower gardens and much more to see.

The concert hall in Moduradam

The concert hall in Moduradam

Next day, we went to Amsterdam. With my husband, we have been to Amsterdam before, which we loved to visit, but with our son, it is not the best place to visit. Why? First of all, a BMW 740 is not a perfect car, to visit this city. We already knew that, it would be hard for us to park the car or drive in Amsterdam, so we decided to use public transport to go from Delft to Amsterdam for the day. Secondly, to visit Amsterdam, you either have to be a fast and long walker, or a good biker. Neither fits to our travel habits with our son.

First from the train station, we walked to Anne Frank Hus, in about an hour. When we got there, we saw a long long queue of tourists waiting to visit the museum. What a pity. As you can imagine, we decided not to visit the museum and tried to find a place to take the canal boats. However, it was already lunch time, so we first wanted to find some nice place to have lunch. With the help of our Eyewitness book, we found a very nice restaurant with lovely dishes. But again, we were not the only one who found it, so we came across with a very slow service. It was already nearly 4.00 pm, when we finally could find the first stop to get on the canal boats, which were supposed to be a hop-on-hop of tour, but unfortunately we did not have time for any “hop off’s”. So here is the “Do your remember game” of Amsterdam:

Me: What do you remember of Amsterdam?

Our son: Walking and tiring in boring streets.

Thanks God, I have a very dear friend living in Amsterdam, and he took us to a fine Turkish restaurant, where we enjoyed an evening and returned to our hotel with the comfort of his car.

Next: Our final day of our trip, Markem, Volendam and Zaanse Schans

 

Mosel river with Riesling tastes

Remember our super car adventure and our road trip to Germany. After a long and a fun day at Koblenz and tiny towns of Rhein, we decided to drive next day, further West from the shores of river Mosel. Mosel river meets, Rhein in the very center of the city of Koblenz. And both rivers provide scenic route to drive especially in late August and early September, when every little town organizes a local festival. Colorful people, tasty junk food on street, music and riesling wines. What on earth would a traveler ask for?

It was a nice but cloudy Sunday morning when we started our drive from our hotel in Unkel. We did not have any specific plan, except to drive by Mosel river and stop wherever we find interesting, until we reach to Trier. Our first stop was Alken, a very cute town by the river. But the main reason to stop was the “Apfelstrudel” sign on the main road. Well, as you may guess it was a perfect excuse to stop. I already loved Apfelstrudel but it was our son’s first time ever taste of it, and guess what! He is now a fan of it too.

Grapes everywhere

Grapes everywhere

Grapes everywhere

Grapes everywhere

After a very tasty Apfelstrudel, with cream and ice cream on top, and a nice coffee escorting it, we found some little shops and little streets to walk around. Then we drove further to find new towns on the way.

We passed again very nice little towns, but when we reached to Cochem, there was a huge crowd, music and nice smells. This is it, we said and parked our car to enjoy the music. Every little “Piazza” of the town was settled like a film set, colorful flags all around, a stage for the band to play and street food kiosks everywhere, with Riesling wine kiosk in the middle, surrounded by long wooden banks and tables. My choice was various garlic breads and “the boys'” choice were hot dogs with different kind of sausages, again with some Riesling wines.

 

Little towns of Mosel river

Little towns of Mosel river

After a few hours we left our hearts in Cochem and went back to our car, as our target was today to reach to Trier. Trier is a big city, which is as every big city, not so fancy to visit on Sundays. The streets were rather empty, except some crazy tourists like us and the shops were closed. So just like many tourists do we went to the Pont Negro (A huge stone building, mainly black, used as the main entrance of the city in the past) and took the touristic train to explore the city faster. (Since we travel with our son, it is always easy to take these trains, instead of forcing him to walk.) Than we stopped at Hauptmarkt, which is the main Piazza of the town, with some interesting shops (like the oldest Pharmacy) and sounds of Sunday church bells. After eating some snacks in a wine house, at about 6.00 pm, we started to drive back to Unkel.

On the way back, our navigation took us directly somewhere close to Unkel, but on the wrong side of the river!! With a little panic of what we will do, we found out that, we were headed to the ferry to cross the river. Thank god, it was not a rocket science to take the ferry. The tickets were sold on the ferry itself, and it was very often. So it was just the right time to have a fine dinner at our hotel, when we finally reached to Unkel.

Next: We will drive to North: Holland, but not Amsterdam

Rheinhotel Scultz in Unkel-Germany

Arriving to Germany, getting our super car of 740, and after an afternoon in Köln we headed to our hotel in late afternoon that we were gonna stay for 5 nights. I chose to stay in Unkel because, it was in the middle of all the places we wanted to go. Our plan was to go to Phantasialand, Dusseldorf, Koblenz, Trier and some other small Rhein towns around. Unkel just fitted with all our expectations, with a 150 year old mansion hotel of Rheinhotel Shultz.

Entrance of the hotel

Entrance of the hotel

We were welcomed by a smiling staff who very quickly provided our keys. Passing trough long long corridors, some stairs and some elevators, there we were finally in our room. A typical 17th century building: high ceiling, tick walls, tall windows, old style decoration and a view of the river Rhein. Most importantly, a very convenient underground parking safe for our 740 BMW.

The main and in my problem, the only problem of staying in Unkel is, it is a very very small village, and other than the hotel restaurant itself, there are not many alternatives to eat. For the first evening we drove to Königswinter, which is a much larger town about 6 km. from Unkel, and had a very fine dinner in an Italian restaurant. The second evening we tried the restaurant of the hotel. A perfect view, perfect ambiance and perfect meals. Very good for a hotel like this. But the third evening, tired of travelling all day, we arrived to the hotel restaurant, very hungry and learned that it was closed due to an occasion (as far as I remember, some wedding). So upset, we found some weird wine bar around, where an old man was playing and singing 70s with no cheer at all and some old couples were dancing on the stage, half dead. So we had our meals with “I just called to say I love you” sounds and ran away as soon as we could.

 

Inner garden of the hotel

Inner garden of the hotel

What we did in the other days? Phantasiland and Rhein Town festivals soon to come

A road trip with a brand new BMW 740

Köln

Köln

2 years ago, a 10 days trip to the Rhein and Mosel rivers of Germany and than further North to Utrecht, Amsterdam and Antwerp was the highlight of our summer. Today I want to start to tell some about the Germany part of the trip. The Holland part will be coming in the following days.

You probably already know my dear followers that we love to rent our car on our holidays and do some road trips freely. This trip we made in 2011 was really one of the best, as it included two of our favorite countries, Germany and Holland. But moreover, the main hero of the trip was our car.

People renting a car quite often may know that sometimes (well quite often) the rent a car agent do not have the car you require in their hand and they provide a car similar to it. That’s fine. But sometimes (very rarely) they provide a car that is one grade upper than you paid for. Well, you be happy than. But sometimes (that’s very rarely) they give a car that’s much more than you paid for. And sometimes (That’s really maybe once in a lifetime) This super car is a brand new one. So you probably understood the point.

BMW 740 just 6 km

BMW 740 just 6 km

It was the end of August, when we got off our plane at Köln airport. Passport control, luggage waiting, search for the Sixt office is the routine. Than the lady in the office said that they do not have a 5 series that we asked for. OK… and that they will give 7 series. OK OK OK OK. And the routine goes on, find the car, get the luggage in the trunk, check the car and WHAT? A 740 just 6 km old, ours for 10 long and long days of driving, on the autobahns of Germany that has no speed limit. This is a bulls eye right?

Feeding our dear car

Feeding our dear car

Next: An afternoon in Köln and our hotel by the Rhein river.