European Travel Blog Part 1: Exploring Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Click here for the map to see our full route of this adventure

 

Day 1 Amsterdam Briefing 

Our exploratory European Self Drive Adventure started at the lovely and quirky Volks Hotel, located in in Amsterdam’s ‘’living’’ suburbs that are short walk from the historic Amstel River that flows through old Amsterdam. With hot tubs on the roof, a 360 degree view of the city from the restaurant and great facilities like the "werk plaats’’ (work place) it was a fantastic base to start our adventure from.

 

Day 1 on most of our adventures offers an opportunity to meet the guide and the rest of group during a pre-trip briefing followed by dinner. On this 27-day adventure our guide was none other than Mark Janssen who is a Dutch local and is also a well-seasoned adventure guide. With his own company running many shorter routes for Europeans with their own 4x4’s. Mark specially designed the route that we would follow over the next few weeks for our group of Australians who, after coming far, wanted to stay longer and see more of Europe’s best kept secrets off the beaten track. With this being our first and exploratory adventure Linda and Mike would also be joining Mark to explore the route and fine tune it for our future European Adventures.

 

Mark taking us through this unique 27- day adventure route through Europe 

 

The briefing took place from the roof top restaurant of the Volks Hotel with fantastic views of Amsterdam in the background over a lovely 3 course meal where we could get to know a bit more about Mark and the adventure.  His wife Gepka was also able to join us.  It is always wonderful to welcome back past guests and this group was made up of Sue, Bob & Liz, Keith, Trajco, Pat and Jack (Jack getting into all things European has re-branded himself as Jacques for this trip) who had traveled with Self Drive Adventures before and Wayne & Jill and Jeannine & Rob who where joining one of our adventures for the first time. 

 

Day 2 & 3 Touring Amsterdam and hitting the road

Day 2 of our adventure saw us exploring the vibrant city of Amsterdam, we headed off on a cruise of the canals which has to be one of the best ways to see the city. The captain of our boat, Jim, greeted us with a broad Australian accent! It turned out that Jim has lived in Parramatta for 5 years when he was younger, and the accent stuck. It’s a small world.

 

           Our fantastic boat                                                    Captain Jim of the Aussie Accent                    Bob and Liz enjoying lunch on the canals  

 

Mark did an excellent job of organising our boat – it was the finest boat we saw on the water during our 2-hour tour and with a delicious lunch on board. It was an excellent way to take in some of the history on the canals that were built during the ‘’Dutch Golden Age’’ in the 17th century and span over 100 km.

 

 

After our cruise we took a walking tour of the old city where some tasty Gouda was purchased to stock our cooler boxes for picnic lunches and happy hours. Exploring the old streets of Amsterdam it is hard not to miss the distinctive ‘’coffee – shops’’ that are filled with a more organic scent than roasted coffee with many patrons indulging in Amsterdam’s marijuana as well as the infamous ‘’Red Light District’’.