Before making our way to the FEMA festival, a few of us decided to take a camping trip to Amsterdam. It was quite a long journey on the first day. We left Slough at around 9.30am and arrived at our camp site at around 8pm. We might have been slightly quicker if it had not been for the fantastic joke that the French play on us with petrol stations. If you arrive in France and head towards Belgium you won't find a petrol station for about 60 miles and that's when you're in Belgium! Just to be more witty you can see one on the other side of the dual carriage way after about 20 miles. At one point there is a sign saying there's a petrol station in 45km - when I saw that I'd already done 20 miles on reserve! So we did about 50mph to conserve petrol and made it to the petrol station where I found there was loads of petrol left in the tank thanks to the huge reserve on a Bandit (almost a gallon I found out later).
This is where the people of Amsterdam start playing good games. The campsite restaurant shuts at 8pm and we were starving, tired and dying for a beer. The local hotels are open really late - until 9pm. So they directed us to some fictitious hotel "less than a 5 minute" walk away - or did we just get the directions wrong? Anyway, we gave up after about half an hour and headed off to the metro station. It wasn't too far into the center from Gaasperplas and we soon found a really nice restaurant to eat at. Either the food was excellent or the food was improved by our hunger.
In the evening we discovered that the campsite loos don't have toilet seats in the mens. Not quite sure why that is but it backfires on the women as we had to use their loos when it was essential for us to sit down (if you see what I mean). No doubt the men of the country take their own toilet seat around with them and think we are disgusting for sharing them.
The next day, Tuesday, we headed for the tourist information place as Cathy had cleverly left all the tourist information she'd gathered at home. We booked ourselves on a river cruise and found out about a free concert on Wednesday.
At some point we saw some images in a coffee shop that we couldn't quite
believe. We didn't like that coffee shop and went to another one where
they were still showing pictures of the World Trade center on fire. We
were told about the terrorist attack and managed to catch up with quite
a lot of what was going on as it was on every TV we came across.
If you're ever in Amsterdam and consider taking the night bus back then here's a tip - don't bother. We did that on the first night but it only gave us 45 minutes extra in town before the bars shut at 1am. Then the first two buses were cancelled so we wish we'd just got the 12.15 metro back. I think we must have got back at around 3am.
Wednesday, we arrived a little late for the free concert which we thought
was an outdoor one but it wasn't. Had to eat our picnic in the park
afterwards. Siôn attracted loads of pigeons which thanked him by
weeing on me!
Did a visit to the Heineken brewery which was fun. We accidentally insulted
loads of Americans who were laughing with us at first seeing us take
our picture. Then they stopped when they saw the message for the e-card
that we were sending to a friend back at work. We didn't really mean to upset them!
The Gaasperplas campsite is near a large lake with some nice walks around it -
We were supposed to be on three bikes for the four of us but we managed to get everything on the two bikes, just. You can just make out Siôn's socks drying on the back there.
At some point we went around the sex museum which is worth a visit but prepare to be shocked!
We left Amsterdam and tried to find a B&B in some scenic area but we didn't really know what we were doing so we went to Ghent where we eventually found a Hotel that was cheap. Locating that took us about two hours and is a story in itself. The hotel must have economised on TV remotes because Frankie and Cathy had to either come and get us or stand on the radiator to operate the TV!
So after hogging down yet more nice food in Ghent, we headed off to the FEMA festival. We'd have been better of staying in Ghent and visiting it as it turned out!