Mention a trip to Holland and most people envision blond girls wearing wooden shoes in front of tulip fields and windmills. Add an RV to that picturesque scene and you have an idea of what my husband and I experienced by renting an RV and touring Holland for a week.
Unless you’ve been to Holland, it is difficult to comprehend the vast network of bike paths throughout the country. Many train stations and businesses have three-story tall bike racks just to accommodate all the bicycles. It’s easy to rent a bike at a campground and then ride on designated bike trails to get groceries or just sightsee. Best of all, Holland is perfectly flat, so riding is a breeze on your single-speed, Mary Poppins-type bike!
Getting the RV
My husband Allan and I rented an RV from Weitze Mulder at CamperFun in Hoofdorp, Holland. (Just try saying “Hoofdorp” without smiling!) Our plans went off without a hitch. A friendly college student, eager to try out his English, picked us up at the train station. After an
orientation, we were ready to hit the road in our Challenger RV. The unit included everything we needed from linens to cooking supplies to toilet chemicals. Insurance and roadside assistance is included with the rental so we felt confident in heading down the road. Well, Allan was confident. The RV had manual transmission, which didn’t bother him at all. I would have stalled in the parking lot if I needed to watch out for bicyclists, check traffic and then figure out what to do with that extra pedal next to the gas and brake.
At the Campground
Most European campgrounds will ask you to empty your portable holding tank by carrying it to the disposal station. (Not as disgusting as it sounds.) Simply hand-carry the tank to a designated sink, or in one case, a designated room. Next, empty the tank, hose it off and proudly carry the empty container back to your RV. Restrooms were always immaculate. Most had colorful tiles, large shower stalls and extra sinks to wash dishes.
Children love European playgrounds because they have a “higher risk element”. Swings go higher, merry go rounds twirl faster and jungle gyms rise higher in the air. Just like in the U.S., Dutch parents sit on the sidelines and chat as their children burn off excess energy. You’ll find it easy to start a conversation with moms and dads since most Dutch have a working knowledge of English.
Parking and Driving the Rig in Holland
Parking at major tourist destinations is also simple. Because of the many tour companies in Holland, special parking lots are set aside for buses and RV’s. Just follow a bus packed with tourists and it will lead you to a safe parking area with plenty of room for your RV! Roads are in excellent condition and drivers are not quite as speed-happy as in nearby Germany. By staying on the outskirts of smaller villages, we never ran into any problems trying to maneuver through windy, cobblestone streets designed for horses and carriages. (That’s easy to say since my husband was driving!)
Creative Cooking in an RV
Being able to cook in the RV saved us money and also provided entertainment when we visited grocery stores. We eagerly tried various wines, soups and of course, pastries. Sometimes we didn’t know what we were getting, but enjoyed the experience. While counter space in the RV was small, we easily prepared tasty and inexpensive meals. Many campgrounds sold warm rolls every morning at the camp store. The relaxed camp atmosphere had kids riding their bikes in pajamas to pick up the fresh rolls for breakfast in the RV.
Getting Around Holland in an RV
Traveling through Holland in an RV was easier than expected. Communication was seldom a problem. Since we brought our GPS from home, we never had to rely on strangers for directions as to our next destination. We didn’t even bother getting a campground directory because almost every town we came to, large or small, had signs pointing the way to various campgrounds. There are over 800 campgrounds in Holland! Some are huge, with swimming pools, recreation programs and incredibly modern facilities. We drove into one campground that was officially closed for the season. When the owner saw us he said, (in perfect English) “Oh, come on in and stay the night. Park anywhere you want.”
Because Holland is fairly small, we covered a large part of the country, using little gas. Now we’re planning another trip to see all the places we missed!