Thursday, June 5, 2008
Letter No. 14
Monster, The Netherlands
Intriguing place name isn’t it? When we heard it spoken, we pictured all kinds of exotic spelling, but we were wrong. It is spelled as it sounds – and it has a campground right behind the dunes of the beach on the North Sea, just west of The Hague. I don’t think we’ve ever been in a campground that put campers so close together, but we’ve never been in a campground that is a beach resort. There are people everywhere – in vehicles like ours, in caravans (trailers) that are pretty stationary, in various kinds of rentals (trekkerhuts, regular trailers, mobile homes, and who knows what). There are tents and motor homes and people everywhere. The number of dogs is staggering – from mutts to Westies and our current favorite, a Swiss White Shepherd – much larger than a German Shepherd, with long white hair. This one is young – and he’s already the biggest shepherd we’ve ever seen.
We’ve had several out-of-the-ordinary days. Maartje, our friend in Tilburg, put our RV on the local internet marketplace, and got several bids. So, when we left Aachen, we headed for Tilburg so we could show the bidders our rig. We returned on Thursday to the campground near her home that we had used in the beginning of the trip, and called Maartje to see what arrangements she had made. Of course, we couldn’t use the cell phone to call (although there was still 2euros more credit and the company advertises .20 euros a minute in The Netherlands). We are not too pleased with the service we got – and they will hear from us when we get home. But the lady who runs the campground was kind enough to let us call – and we arranged to meet Maartje the next afternoon. Then we did the one thing we rarely used to do….we became campers! We hung around and read, listening to the birds calling and resting our weary bones!
On Friday, we drove to meet Maartje, and the first man who had expressed an interest viewed the RV. After that, the three of us went through some second-hand stores and a supermarket. We drove home, and Maartje had started making dinner when the doorbell rang with the second caller. Frankly, neither of them was very enthusiastic. But there are still a few more interested parties and we’ll see what happens. We had a lovely dinner, laughed a lot and then headed back to the campground. We drove back very proud of ourselves that we hadn’t gotten lost! Shows you how confident we are!
After dinner, we had arranged to visit another friend in The Hague – and he recommended one campground whose name he knew and one town we might try. We headed for the campground he had recommended but before we got there, found Monster and the Molenslag campground. We were really pleased to find it because the other facilities in the area cost nearly double! The staff turned out to be very nice and helpful. The street, the campground and many of the other streets in the area all have the name Molen (Mill) in them, because of the beautiful old windmill just down the hill. Just watching the arms turn in the winds is fun!
This campground had very clean sanitary facilities, i.e., toilets and showers and dish washing area, close to where we were parked. And it was convenient to everything we needed—three supermarkets and a small downtown area. The walks to these places were longish but went by an ice-cream store and a visshandel ( a street stall that sells fresh and fresh fried, pickled and smoked fish), one of the great attractions of being in the Netherlands for Ron. The bus stop for a bus and tram to The Hague was pretty close. As far as we are concerned, this campsite was about as good as they get.
Ron noticed that young woman in the office had a Polish accent. Then we read the sign that said that there are Polish products in the store. Kind of odd.
After due consideration, we asked our friend if we could postpone our dinner engagement from Saturday until Sunday, when we’ll already be in the city. He agreed, and we had enough time to walk to a nearby market and stock up (maybe a mile between going and coming). Then we came back, put everything away and walked another mile or so, past some very nice home front gardens, to the center of town where we could buy more pre-paid time for the recalcitrant cell phone. When we got back, Adelle tried, unsuccessfully, to add the 20 euros we had just purchased to the cell phone pre-paid chip. It was the same old problem. You can get the menu that gives you instructions to do this in English – only the computer voice tells you how to change to English in Dutch, which Adelle doesn’t understand. So she went into the office and asked the young lady if she would add the money to the phone. She spoke Dutch, so she understood the message and successfully added the money. But this brought up the subject of language. The upshot was that Adelle was told that there are a lot of German and a lot of Polish campers, but they are on separate sides of the camp, and the office staff swore that the Germans seemed to be a little afraid of the Poles. Seems unlikely to us, but who knows?
Another period of “rest” and we were off to visit the really beautiful, sandy beach behind the dunes. We had to wait a while because there are about 50 steps up to the top of the dunes…and some of us were kind of tired. Only because this is The Netherlands, we did ask about the dunes and the sandy beach, and according to our sources, this is a natural beach. We are always aware of the Dutch saying that we quoted in our book: God made the world, but the Dutch made Holland.
So, we sit in our RV behind the dunes and the North Sea writing a letter to keep you up to date.
Tomorrow we plan to visit The Hague and one of the best art museums anywhere, the Mauritshuis, which has several Vermeers, , including “The Lady with the Pearl Earing”, Rembrandts, Hals, Jordaans, Ter Borch’s, Van Dycks among other Dutch and Flemish artist’s works. That should be a treat.
On that note, we’ll leave this letter. More soon.
Adelle & Ron