European road trip Colley-style
Have car will travel + Google = great family adventures
Wow, how exciting a family wedding in Cologne with a bit of an adventure on route.
Having been born in Germany into a military family I always wanted to go back to the river Rhine in Germany where I spent my childhood holidays and show the new members of my family this beautiful place.
Starting out we head to the Eurotunnel - thank you Tesco vouchers - approximately three hours from home and then 20-minutes in the Eurotunnel it was all so easy.
First port of call Luxembourg via France then Belgium - thank you Google maps - tick countries one, two and three.
After spending a small fortune to use the toilets in Belgium we hit Luxembourg after six hours of travel and a lot of car snacks, thank goodness for mobile data, kids in the back were happy as long as they had data.
Note to self, remove European data cap prior to travel next time.
Having investigated what's good about Luxembourg we drove the car on a nearly empty tank to make use of the tax free supplemented fuel. This saved us nearly £100 as we filled up the tank to within an inch of its life.
After a goodnights sleep and a hearty breakfast we took to the streets with adventure in mind, with the benefit of free public transport available to everyone, which was just as well as after several hop on, hop offs in the wrong direction we managed to find our way around the city.
We discovered Luxembourg has a beautiful town park right in the centre which was several hundred feet below the street level of the city.
Moving on to our next adventure and a new country we hit Cologne in Germany four hours later - note to self, clean air zone permit should be booked several weeks in advance!
Oops ended up blagging it.
Went in and around the city in stealth model first night in Cologne, having sampled the local food and beer discovered we needed to place our coasters on top of our glasses or they keep refilling them.
A couple days to go before the wedding we went out to explore the city and went to explore the cathedral, wow that was spectacular and free entry. Hopped on the chocolate express for a guided tour, £10 pound per person for the train this included a multilingual commentary on places of interest and a stop at the famous Lindt chocolate museum which was fab after dragging one child away from constantly refilling his pockets with the free chocolate.
Wedding day looming in true Turkish tradition, wife-to-be Turkish/German, the groom’s family that had travelled to attend the wedding turned up to witness and encourage the groom to kidnap/bribe the fiancé from her parents’ home.
The bridegroom’s family turned up armed with tambourines, pots and pans, whistles, kazoos and drums to make as much noise to add to the proceedings as possible, all great fun.
Then a quick dash back to the hotel to change.
The wedding evening was spent dancing and enjoying the hospitality of our amazing Turkish hosts who made us feel incredibly welcome and encouraged us to dance with our socks off in true Turkish style.
With sore feet and aching bodies we retired at 12.30am leaving them still partying until the early hours.
The following day, still desperate to explore the Rhine we hopped on to one of the many reasonably priced cruises. Having bagged a wonderful seat at the front where we could see it all, we enjoyed a cup of coffee and some nice chips with a wonderful view enjoying the dramatic architecture and mystical scenery.
Once the cruise was finished, we took a walk along the riverbank where there was a market. Not sure if this is a regular thing but it was great. Bought some woven wrist bands for the boys and a beautiful secondhand German-style decanter and glasses which will be keeping our guests hydrated for years to come.
From there we head for a 25-minute walk to the zoo. This was great with a very comprehensive array of animals on display including a beautiful snow leopard, tiger, lions, red panda, and gorillas.
New country, new adventure, after an early start three hours later we arrived at our next accommodation this was a little different. A lovely yurt in the Netherlands just outside Amsterdam.
We had a wonderful rainy afternoon and evening watching the huge freight and luxury cruise ships pass by a few short metres from our front door, in the largest canal in Europe.
After a lovely warm comfortable night’s sleep and on a lovely sunny morning, we read through our Amsterdam travel guide and planned our next adventure.
As Amsterdam also has a clean air zone – it boasts more than one bicycle per person - it's recommended that you park in one of many park-and-ride car parks and buy a day rider ticket.
This covers all public transport to get you into the centre and all the tourist spots. Once we had parked, we studied the tram map and took the next tram to the central station and bought our day ticket €7.50 each from the conductor who told us that they could be redeemed when paying for the car park if you select the park and ride option when paying.
When we reached the centre, we had a coffee in front of the royal palace and were fortunate to witness the French president Emmanuel Macron leaving with his royal hosts during the first official ceremonial French visit in 24 years.
We then started the 15-minute walk to the Anne Frank Museum but you
need to book ahead online as unfortunately it was already sold out in advance when we arrived.
So instead, we booked an open topped canal cruise which was very enjoyable and informative. The guide took us through the history of Amsterdam and explained the unusual architecture and bendy buildings. Definitely needs to be an open top boat as the most interesting features are high above you on both sides.
Heading home via several wrong buses, and trams. We again resorted to using the power of Google to navigate back to the car. Another bus, tram and train and we finally made it to the car park.
We saw slightly more of Amsterdam than intended but thank goodness for the day rider tickets.
Using the P&R option and scanning our tickets a day’s parking was only €1.
After another final lovely night’s sleep in the yurt, we leave early for the final leg of our adventure in the mediaeval city of Bruges. After a three-hour journey we arrive at our hotel and walk into the centre, where we get a late lunch and a horse-drawn tour of the old city from the picturesque market square. You can get free guided walking tours, but we arrived too late to do this.
We finished the final leg of our family adventure with Belgium waffles, strawberries and cream.
Top tip - when you park up anywhere in Bruges regardless of signage and road markings buy a ticket as it will save you a €40 fine. Oops!
After a final good night's sleep, we get up early to embark on our two-hour journey back to the channel. This was smooth easy and virtually straight through. So much easier than a ferry.
düğün: Travels around Europe to finally arrive in Germany to witness Turkish wedding