When I think of summer, I think of the beach (LongBay Beach, New Zealand) , seafood, BBQ’s, Volleyball, fresh fruit and veg, ice creams, jellies and Christmas! As my first summer in Europe nears an end, and I have indulged in none of the above summer-nessecities, feeling like I have been engulfed in winter for far too long, Dan and I head to the closest coast from Amsterdam, following signs for the beach… any beach will do.
The first beach we arrive at is IJmuiden, a 20 minute drive from Amsterdam central. The beach is nestled nest to a National Park which is sectioned off by barb wire. We drive up to the car park, greeted by a large flashing sign, displaying the number of free car parks. This gobsmacked me… PAY for a park, by the beach?! We drive up to check it out and it’s very busy, the carpark isn’t close to the beach and we can’t imagine ourselves setting up camp there, so we set off, south, down the coast, on the lookout for the next good spot. We arrive at Zandvoort beach. A restaurant and bar lined white sanded beach… where you have to pay for parking AND for a sunshade… But its a beach!
Again, we drive towards the ocean only to be greeted by a large flashing sign showing the number of car spaces in carparks 1,2 and 3. All of them with a height restriction not enabling us to park. Luckily, a 30 minute walk from the beach we find a FREE car park where a few other campers are parked, we park up. We spend the next two days here, doing all the kinds of beach holiday things you’d expect.
On the third morning we decide we’ve had enough of living next to a busy main road, and head north, stumbling upon a strange Dutch beachtown called Callantsoog. The town itself is more of a holiday destination, surrounded by campgrounds and ugly rows of similar looking brick houses, but the beach is quiet and relaxing. We manage to find an empty carpark directy opposite the beach entrance just out of the township, we park up and set up camp.
We spend two days here, venturing to town once to buy some 2 euro chips in a paper cone from Mr Chippy.
On the third morning we wake to knocking on the door. “The police, open up.” We stumble out to two angry cops, telling us that it is in fact ILLEGAL to sleep in an uncertified camper in The Netherlands, and ILLEGAL to sleep in your car ANYWHERE, other than a campground. (We checked the local campgrounds and for 1 night, to park our truck and pay 1 euro for a 15 minute shower it would’ve cost us 35 euros.) We are told we would usually get a 150 Euro fine, but because we are ignorant tourists we will be let off…. PHEWWWW.
So our holiday of being beach bums comes to an unfortunate end. To BERLIN… THE LAND OF THE FREE.