Travel 2013 – Zandvoort, Bloemendaal, The Netherlands

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Thursday, 4th/Sunday, 7th July 2013 – Zandvoort, Bloemendaal

Things I learned at Zandvoort this year…

1. It bloody hurts when you trip over the parc ferme barriers and hit the Tarmac elbows and forearms first, thank you very much Circuit Park Zandvoort! I have the scabbed over left elbow and pebble dashed right arm to prove it. The lesson to take away from this is “don’t wander about out there without your glasses”, which would not happen if I hadn’t managed to leave my “walking about” glasses in the restaurant we’d gone to the night before of course…

2. On a sunny day it really can take an hour and a half to get out of Zandvoort and back onto the main road. This is a distance of under two miles. With a supposedly 90-minute drive from there to the ferry (overnight ferry, miss that and there isn’t another one for 24 hours!) we left with two and a half hours to spare, and had around 70 minutes to spare once we finally go free of the traffic. We made the Rotterdam-Hull ferry with 2 minutes left till they closed the check-in and were the last but one car onto the damn thing. I think I broke every speed limit in the Netherlands and am now waiting for the speeding tickets to show up! The lesson from this? For us, stay an extra night, relax and go home on Monday night instead. The lesson for the organisers? For the sake of all that’s holy, spend a little money on some traffic control systems for the day. There were less than 17,000 at the circuit (around a quarter of what they used to get) and the beach crowds hadn’t even started leaving, so what the hell was going on?

3. When travelling overnight on the Stena Line ferry from Harwich, don’t bother booking and paying for breakfast. Although you can get a decent meal in the restaurant at dinner time, it isn’t open in the morning, and the only option is the self-service buffet. This resembles one of the circles of hell, with coffee machines that are not topped up, sad, soggy bread for toast, “industrial” sausages that fit the Pratchettian (?) definition of meat (it’s been inside an animal) and cheap cereals. It’s grim in the extreme, especially when you can’t even get near anything because there’s a coach party getting seriously underfoot! That said, we booked the Captain’s Suite, and very luxurious it was too…

4. I love the restaurant in Bloemendaal, Terra, that we’ve now been to three year’s in a row, where the delightful waitress remembered us, and the food is delicious, the wine list is interesting, and the outdoor tables (which we got to use for the first time this year) overlook the church and flower-filled square opposite and only the bicycles whizzing past remind you you’re not somewhere more southerly.

5. There’s some really interesting Thai food out there that we don’t get to see here in the UK, where all the Thai restaurants we’ve found so far tend to serve much the same food. The Bandai Thai not far from the apartment we rented, was very good and the menu included Meang khan, which they described as a “health Thai dish with fresh herbs in wild pepper leaves, an explosion of tastes”.

It certainly was, with dried shrimp, peanuts, chillis, chunks of lime, onions, and a variety of other things, all piled into a folded up leaf, drizzled with a sweet sauce, and popped into the mouth where all sorts of flavours promptly did explode in your mouth! Oh, and the chef came out and apologised for not having fresh spring rolls and asked if we minded if she used frozen ones this time, or if we would prefer something else…


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