Road Trip Europe

Road Trip Europe, Have An Adventure Driving Through To Amsterdam, Brussels And Paris!

By Lee Kane / May 31 2014

Possibly, in my opinion, the best way to see europe! All you you need is a car. Then sit back, put the car in gear, accelerate, and of you go (don't forget breakdown cover, the right documents and to check your mirrors). Its a funny thing but when you're on the road you tend to see so much more than just the road in front. You get to momentarily glimpse a snapshot of so many worlds as you cruise through unfamiliar places. You see things you've never seen before, and if you stick to the country roads, you get to admire all the beauty of nature as it drifts by you like a dream at about 55 mph.

image of Skoda Felicia 1.9TDiThis was my first trip to europe with my camera. I travelled in a great little Skoda Felicia 1.9 TDi which was excellent on fuel and cheap on insurance. I booked the ferry online and had a departure time of 06:30AM. I like the journey across the channel and i'm always full of anticipation as i stand at the back of the ferry with my coffee and watch England and the White Cliffs of Dover slowly disappear into the distance. This trip was quite special as it was my first proper road trip. I had driven in europe before but only locally on holiday in hired cars.

image of Sea France Ferry
A SeaFrance Ferry
image of The White Cliffs Of Dover
The White Cliffs Of Dover
image of A seagull slipstreaming behind the ferry

I had 5 days and the plan was to have a go at wild camping and see some of Holland before driving down to Brussels in Belgium and then on to Paris in France. The first day from Calais i took a slow drive up the coast and into Belgium and then on to Holland where i stopped the first night just across the border. It was just before dusk so i was a bit pushed to find somewhere to camp but eventually found a field which had no gate and decided to go for it. It must have been near a canal or small stream as all through the night something which sounded about the size of a small dog kept rustling around the tent, it seemed to know when it had woken me as it would suddenly scurry off.

Not a comfortable night!

image of Wild camping in Europe
image of a Skoda Felicia hidden in the grass
My Skoda Felicia looking like its hiding in the grass
image of Hot Air Balloons over Holland
Hot Air Balloons over Holland

The next day i got up and carried on through Holland towards a large dyke called Afsluitdijk. It looked pretty impressive on the map as it stretched a large expanse of water (around 32km). It wasn't, well not really, but hey i traveled across to the other side where there was an industrial estate and a wind turbine.

image of Afsluitdijk in Holland
The 32km long dam Afsluitdijk
image of a cyclist cycling across Afsluitdijk
Dutch Civil Engineer Cornelis Lely on Afsluitdijk
image of A sculpture of a dyke worker on Afsluitdijk
Dike Worker Sculpture (and i have no idea, he'd probably been to Amsterdam)

I saw loads of wind turbines as i drove through Holland, they get quite creative with them! Sadley i didn't get any photos (but its on the list of photos to get under artistic use of wind turbines in europe).

image of A Wind Turbine in Holland
Dutch Wind Turbine

This sounds fun doesn't it. Honestly, i was loving it. It was an adventure. I didnt want to go any further than the other side of Afsluitdijk so after spending 40 winks (english term for having a quick sleep) on the verge of the dam i headed back down on the E22 to Amsterdam. When i got there i found the nearest campsite and went into town for food and drink. Have you ever been to Amsterdam? I will let Bob Dylan explain in the lyrics to "Dob Dylans 115th Dream"

I was riding on the Mayflower
When I thought I spied some land
I yelled for Captain Arab
I have yuh understand
Who came running to the deck
Said, "Boys, forget the whale
Look on over yonder
Cut the engines Change the sail"
Haul on the bowline
We sang that melody
Like all tough sailors do
When they're are far away at sea

"I think I'll call it America"
I said as we hit land
I took a deep breath
I fell down, I could not stand
Captain Arab he started
Writing up some deeds
He said, "Let's set up a fort
And start buying the place with beads"
Just then this cop comes down the street
Crazy as a loon
He throw us all in jail
For carryin harpoons

Ah me I busted out
Don't even ask me how
I went to get some help
I walked by a Guernsey cow
Who directed me down
To the Bowery slums
Where people carried signs around
Saying, "Ban the bums"
I jumped right into line
Sayin, "I hope that I'm not late"
When I realized I hadn't eaten
For five days straight

I went into a restaurant
Lookin for the cook
I told them I was the editor
Of a famous etiquette book
The waitress he was handsome
He wore a powder blue cape
I ordered some suzette, I said
"Could you please make that crepe"
Just then the whole kitchen exploded
From boilin fat
Food was flying everywhere
I left without my hat

Now, I didn't mean to be nosy
But I went into a bank
To get some bail for Arab
And all the boys back in the tank
They asked me for some collateral
And I pulled down my pants
They threw me in the alley
When up comes this girl from France
Who invited me to her house
I went, but she had a friend
Who knocked me out
And robbed my boots
And I was on the street again

Well, I rapped upon a house
With the U.S. flag upon display
I said, "Could you help me out
I got some friends down the way"
The man says, "Get out of here
I'll tear you limb from limb"
I said, "You know they refused Jesus, too"
He said, "You're not Him"
"Get out of here before I break your bones
I ain't your pop"
I decided to have him arrested
And I went looking for a cop

I ran right outside
And I hopped inside a cab
I went out the other door
This Englishman said, "Fab"
As he saw me leap a hot dog stand
And a chariot that stood
Parked across from a building
Advertising brotherhood
I ran right through the front door
Like a hobo sailor does
But it was just a funeral parlor
And the man asked me who I was

I repeated that my friends
Were all in jail, with a sigh
He gave me his card
He said, "Call me if they die"
I shook his hand and said goodbye
Ran out to the street
When a bowling ball came down the road
And knocked me off my feet
A pay phone was ringing
It just about blew my mind
When I picked it up and said hello
This foot came through the line

Well, by this time I was fed up
At tryin to make a stab
At bringin back any help
For my friends and Captain Arab
I decided to flip a coin
Like either heads or tails
Would let me know if I should go
Back to ship or back to jail
So I hocked my sailor suit
And I got a coin to flip
It came up tails
It rhymed with sails
So I made it back to the ship

Well, I got back and took
The parkin ticket off the mast
I was ripping it to shreds
When this coastguard boat went past
They asked me my name
And I said, "Captain Kidd"
They believed me but
They wanted to know
What exactly that I did
I said for the Pope of Eruke
I was employed
They let me go right away
They were very paranoid

Well, the last I heard of Arab
He was stuck on a whale
That was married to the deputy
Sheriff of the jail
But the funniest thing was
When I was leavin the bay
I saw three ships a-sailin
They were all heading my way
I asked the captain what his name was
And how come he didn't drive a truck
He said his name was Columbus
I just said, "Good luck"

Sooooo the next morning i crawled out of a bush swearing never again (yeah right) went back to the campsite, got the tent and the car and started out towards Brussels.

The journey between Amsterdam and Brussels is a long drive through countryside and little towns. I had The Doors, Bob and various artists playing in the background on the stereo. Along the way i decided the tent was too large to keep erecting every night and with the hassle of finding a quiet place to wild camp i thought i would just sleep in the car and have a couple of nights at a cheap hotel to freshen up when i got to Paris. You'd be amazed how comfortable the front seat of that Skoda was.

image of The Whirling Ear Brussels
The Whirling Ear Brussels

Brussels is a beautiful city rich in sculpture and art. I parked the car in a underground car park in the center of town as for the 6 hours i was there it was not a great deal of money for the convenience. This is something you might want to consider if you're on a road trip as the car is quite secure and if you're skimping on accommodation then the cost is not too bad. I bookmarked the location of the car park on the sat nav and headed off for a wonder.

An exhibit by Stefan Rinck
Stefan Rinck - For Lost Innocence
image of An art shop window in Brussels
image of The sun setting over a main street in Brussels

There's a lot to see in Brussels, needless to say i didn't get to see it all, but i did bump into this chap in a mask doing an impression of Van Gogh.

image of A man in a costume impersonating Van Gogh in Brussels
Van Gogh in Brussels
image of Manneken Pis Brussles
Manneken Pis - Brussels (doing his thing)

And Manneken Pis, who as i walked by had an extra squirt and managed to piss in my eye. The crowds roared in favour and i was told this was very lucky (ok im kidding), but the little fella did draw the crowds. Bidding Brussels a fond farewell (after having had the best chocolate drenched waffle EVER), i set off for Paris

This was my second visit to Paris but this time i was truly captured by its presence. I parked the car in the center of town in another car park as i did in Brussels and off i went. Paris is massive, have something comfortable on your feet. I used the Metro once, but on foot you get to see so much more. You can buy a book of tickets for the Metro and if you don't use them all, they are valid for a year, so if you visit again within the year you can still use them, or if not you can give them to someone else who's traveling there.

image of The Theatre National De Chaillot at the Trocadero
Theatre National De Chaillot

What a marvelous structure the Eiffel tower is, it looked fantastic against the dusky sky. I have to admit as i moseyed around that part of the city it was quite a magical experience. You can see some more of my photos of Paris by following the link below.

Picturing Paris - An Endless Supply Of Photographic Inspiration

Finally taking a taxi back to the car park, i spent the night on the edge of Paris in a dreadful hotel called F1, seriously the car was better, but hey i got to have a good wash.

image of The Eiffel Tower And The Statue Of Marshal Joffre
The Eiffel Tower And The Statue Of Marshal Joffre

The next day i drifted back towards Calais to catch my ferry. I think this is the only time i have actually made it back to the ferry on time, and so with time to spare i thought i would have a look at the beach alongside Calais port which you can see from the ferry on the way in. The beach was quiet, just me some beach huts and the setting sun. It was a brilliant trip and it had set a precedent for all future trips.

image of Plage de Calais from the beach not the ferry
Plage de Calais from the beach not the ferry

I have been on a few road trips since then, so i might as well carry on in my next post where with my nephew Rob, i travelled to Amsterdam, Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden, Prague and Brussels.

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