We were up early on Friday 9th September and it was a bitter sweet morning; Captain Caveman was pouring away rum (crikey) because we couldn’t take it on our flight at 4.40pm! It was a Friday so I did my measurements only to find I’d increased between 0.5cm (calves) and 4cm (hips) everywhere, except for reducing my bust by 1cm. That wasn’t great news but still we went down for our included breakfast at the Ibis hotel. Captain Caveman was feeling rough after drinking too much IPA last night and we were meeting Ingrid for brunch in Rotterdam so I made a sandwich and took a gluten free cracker for my hotel breakfast takeaway. Captain Caveman hardly ate anything and I just had a piece of ginger cake with butter and some fruit juice. As we were leaving the dining area, me with a sandwich in a serviette in my grasp, the receptionist told us the manager wanted to have a chat with us. I thought I was going to get told off for stealing sandwiches! The manager came out and told us there had been a mistake when we checked in and that the breakfast wasn’t included at all. If we had known that, we wouldn’t have bothered paying for it but Captain Caveman seemed not to be functioning well at all and agreed to pay the €36 extra when we checked out.
Captain Caveman was still rather unwell when we arrived at Bake & Moore to meet Ingrid, who was already waiting for us. Ingrid and I ordered an English scone (with jam and cream) and a croissant each, on account of Queen Elizabeth II dying yesterday. It was the appropriate thing to do given that we heard the news while we were living it up in FoodHallen, in Rotterdam. If Captain Caveman could have called in dead he probably would have and, as my friend and I chatted away, we kept seeing that he looked extremely peaky. Ingrid kindly gave us a lift to Rotterdam station where we had booked the Flixbus, because today there was a train strike. We said goodbyes while holding back tears and hoped it wouldn’t be as long until we met up again.
After being dropped off at Rotterdam station by Ingrid, we sheltered inside as the rain was coming a bit heavy and it was quite cold. Only Captain Caveman had brought a long sleeved top and coat, I hadn’t but had lent the blue top which was of course too big for me. As we waited for the Flixbus I needed the toilet and decided to try to find one, at the same time as another customer. We were both helped by a member of the Flixbus team who said it was her bus to Schiphol airport, in Amsterdam, and she would wait for us while popped in to Subway, the sandwich shop. As we left Rotterdam, Amsterdam airport bound, the rain poured and it was a little bit sad that this part of our trip had come to an end.
When we got to the airport it was a bit weird. As warned by our friends, the airport was overcrowded and understaffed. Walkways had been constructed to push the queues of people back out of the building then back in via a serpentine route. There were signs up to tell us how long it would be to the front and so I got my sandwiches out. It was organised chaos, I will give them that, and I’ve certainly been in worse airports but we noted we may try an alternative next time. We only just had enough time for Captain Caveman to visit Duty Free and for me to eat my remaining croissant with jam and cream. When we got to the gate our flight to Athens was delayed but we didn’t really know what was going on. As we were boarding it was also chaos and we had to stand on the air-bridge for too long. Our transit time in Athens was only 1.5 hours and that was how delayed we were. We were a bit disappointed that we would not land in time to board our next flight to Rhodes but, as Captain Caveman pointed out, the airline would have to sort out some overnight accommodation for us. I decided to relax and let our hotel know we were delayed once we arrived in Athens. We had red wine and a gluten free sandwich for our inflight meal with Aegean Airlines, then Captain Caveman had a snooze. We were now due to land in Athens at 22.05 and our next flight should take off at 22.20. There were 4 of us to get on that flight to Rhodes so they held it for us. One passenger feigned illness to get off the first flight before everyone else but we still got on the same bus to the main building, where she was absolutely fine. We got on the flight, I messaged our hotel to say we were on our way but 1.5 hours late.
Our day in Holland on Thursday 8th September was such a great one however it started with comedy gold from Dalyan! I’d slept very well in my single bed at the Ibis and woke up to updates on the group chat with Kate and Sausage Dick. I won’t bore you with the finer details but needless to say, an early morning sausage exchange for Kate proved harder than she had imagined. She came away from meeting Sausage Dick at his hotel with more sausage than she had requested, but less than she had paid for, as well as the pair of them managing to lose 2 lots of sausage in the process. Both Kate and Sausage Dick were apologetic and stressed about the situation while Captain Caveman and I could only laugh about the debacle. After our (included) breakfast at the Ibis hotel, we took a bus and a train in to The Hague for a bit of shopping and a nice walk about. The ticket was €4 each for both bus and train and lasts for 2 hours. Captain Caveman needed Toothy Tabs from Lush, they are great for when he’s in the cave or for travelling without liquids. I’d also bought a couple of shampoo bars for the same reason but had got them on offer at the local ‘Superdrug’ style shop (€15 for 2). We walked through the lovely streets of The Hague to meet a friend for lunch at Mama Mia restaurant. We found it easily and had arrived early so we ordered a glass of wine.
We know Quang (and his Dad) from Vietnam so it was great to see him again in Holland, where he is studying. We chatted a lot and even surprised Quang’s dad with a video call from us all. The pizzas were absolutely amazing and I really loved Mama Mia’s. Quang wasn’t drinking as he had work to do that afternoon but we had a limoncello as a toast. The whole bill came to €87 for 3 pizzas, 6 glasses of pinot grigio and a Coke Zero, the limoncello was free. We said our goodbyes outside a museum, where we were about to go inside. It would turn out to be a bit of a revelation for me!
We had thought we might visit the Escher museum while we were in The Hague. Quang also said it was good to visit so we bought our tickets at 3pm for just €9.50. Our hotel had given us a discount, it is normally €11 each. We only had 2 hours as it closed at 5pm and, strangely, you have to put all bags in a locker but can have your phone to take photos. The place is amazing and if you get the chance to go it is very well presented and informative. I had a bit of an eye opener when I realised that all the early work of Esher had been plagiarised by me as a child. In our art class I had thought that our teacher had invented Tessellation, the specific fish and bird ones by Escher. I felt that my childhood had been ruined as I walked through the museum saying I’d done that at school. Captain Caveman thought this was amusing but I was feeling slightly cheated, I even sent a message to a friend to ask the name of the teacher but neither of us could remember.
At around 5pm we bought another ov-chipkaart for the public transport. This time we got the €9 ticket which enabled us to use multiple times on train, tram and bus for the rest of the day. We travelled from The Hague, which I loved, in to Rotterdam where we had arranged to meet Ingrid & Angelique at FoodHallen. Ingrid is my great friend who I have know for about 38 years, Angelique is a more recent friend who I met in Dalyan about a year ago – both ladies live and work in Rotterdam but had never met each other. Ingrid arrived first and, after some confusion over parking and how to get in to FoodHallen, we were reunited. It was great to see Ingrid and she looked really well. I’d already had 2 cherry beers, Captain Caveman was on the draft IPA but I switched to Heineken. Ingrid was driving so we went to have a look around the different food outlets. The place was very much like Wolf in Belgium but it turns out there is a similar one in the area because Angelique and Ingrid had both thought I meant the other place. I ordered Bau buns and edamame beans, Ingrid had a salmon poke bowl and Captain Caveman ordered meatballs. The food was very good, Angelique arrived from work but wasn’t eating and also was driving. We all got chatting and laughing quite a lot – we were out late for a school night. Captain Caveman used our public transport tickets to get back to the hotel, even though Ingrid kindly offered to drive us there. It had been such an amazing day so Captain Caveman and I had some rum and cokes back in the hotel room to celebrate. We also needed to try to finish the rum because tonight was, sadly, our last night in Holland.
There were previous plans made for the 7th September which we had to move or cancel. We were meant to be meeting a Dutch Dalyan friend, on our way from Belgium to Holland, for lunch but we couldn’t get the bus until the afternoon. We were meant to be seeing Ingrid but she had a funeral to attend and we moved our meeting to tomorrow. Meanwhile, Sausage Dick was going to be arriving in Dalyan later with some sausages (obviously) and Malt Loaf. He would be staying in a hotel so I’d arranged for Kate to meet with Sausage Dick to collect his delivery, give him his tobacco and sort the money out. As we had a free morning before we had to leave Belgium we decided to take a train to Knokke, a posh seaside town. We were a bit woolly headed after last night’s shenanigans so we bought croissants at the shop on our way to the train. Captain Caveman fell asleep on the way to Knokke but by 10.15am we were walking past the Castle Huts. By 10.30am we were walking down the busy high street, then just 6 minutes later we were at the sea front eating our breakfast looking out to sea. We decided to walk the length of the promenade and it was quite a distance.
The beach was very quiet and had lots of fancy beach clubs along the way. We saw a good sign that would be useful in Dalyan, fining people for wearing swimmers when not on the beach. It took us just over an hour to walk it to the end then we came back, all the benches were wet so we couldn’t have a sit down until we got back to where we started. It was the longest I’d walked for, since before my injury and my legs ached.
Captain Caveman had got the idea that he would like to try the lobster rolls in Knokke so, after stopping for a dance with a bear then a beer in a sea front bar, we arrived at Lobster ‘n’ Rolls at 1pm. We debated ordering the Summer Lunch menu which looked great but settled on beers and a lobster roll each, truffle crisps and chips to share. Because I hate mayonnaise and can’t eat chillies, I had to ask for mine without sauce which was lovely but after only eating half we realised the time. We had to get back to the train station to catch the 2pm train. It was lucky we didn’t have the set lunch as I had to take half of my roll with me and I didn’t finish my beer. We couldn’t miss this train because we would only just have time to collect our bags from the hotel and get the bus, which we were booked on, to Rotterdam in Holland.
We had to hurry back to Knokke train station and we only just made the 2pm train, the last one to get us back to Bruges in time to collect our bags and get to the bus station. By 3.40pm we were sat waiting for the Flixbus from Bruges to Rotterdam, this time we had reserved the front seats for the 3 hour journey. Captain Caveman kindly snaffled my remaining lobster roll so that I didn’t have a bad stomach for the journey. When we arrived we went straight to Punjabi Food Stadhuisplein for a dinner which was really tasty, if not a bit on the spicy side for Holland. I had the butter chicken which came with loads of rice and a nan bread, Captain Caveman had a mixture of food on his tray. The homemade lemonade was good and the food was very tasty, I’d definitely recommend the place. Our next mission was to get to our hotel, we got a €4 ov-chipkaart which can be used on public transport for up to 2 hours. We got a train to the nearest station and then had to wait 30 minutes for a bus. It was cold so Captain Caveman had to get me an extra top out. We had booked a double room at the Ibis Rotterdam The Hague airport hotel but when we arrived at almost 10.30pm they had no record of our booking. The girl on the reception eventually found it but, unfortunately, only had 1 room available which had single beds. She told us that we could have the beds moved together, that the booking included breakfast and we got the lift to our room on the 4th floor. When we walked in to the room the single bed lay out was not for moving so we had to sleep in separate beds.