There are a lot of traditions surrounding getting married, and I don't care for most of them. The honeymoon is the best one of the lot, although it only barely edges out the first dance because it's a lot more expensive. I think of our honeymoon as having started at the wedding itself. Wind back to July 10, 2005, a date that has been burned into my memory much more effectively than my phone number.

People are starting to leave the wedding reception. Not to be upstaged by anybody I decide we'd better leave while most people are still there to tell us goodbye. Danielle and I say our goodbyes to our respective immediate families, a group which has suddenly merged a few hours ago. Then we walk off to my car, passing the grill where Paul is just throwing on the rest of the meat (some 30 pounds or so). Some people at the other barbecue site applaud us as walk by there, and then we reach the car. A few honks later we're out past the exit, just barely escaping the kids at our wedding who have been armed with soap bubbles.

It feels good to know that wedding is now over and that the cleanup is somebody else's problem. We stay at the Emerald Iguana Inn in Ojai. Check-in is at the Blue Iguana Inn and of course we miss the turn-off. Nobody is there to help us when we get there, but luckily there is a rest room in the little office, which somewhat makes up for that. The receptionist, who appears to be the owner, shows up shortly thereafter and we perform the hotel check-in ritual. 20 minutes later we are in our room, turning on the heat because apparently the A/C has been set to overdrive until we walked in and turned it off. Showers, the bed, and other things feel great.

In the morning we walk from our hotel to downtown Ojai. It's quiet and looks expensive. We eat breakfast at a diner where children play a large role. Not only are their pictures all over the walls, they are also pouring coffee and generally hanging out. This is not a sign.

After breakfast we pack up and drive to the airport. We find out the hard way that, despite the fact that our flight is an international flight, it does not leave from the international terminal. Security isn't bad at all, so we make it to the plane with time to spare. Next to me is a chatty guy who offers to look the other way if we want to join the mile high club. We politely decline and eventually he gives up on trying to talk to me. Virgin Atlantic has a very neat system where you get your own LCD which lets you watch any of 30 movies or 100 or so TV episodes on demand. I'm impressed. Much to my surprise I manage to sleep a few hours. I don't think I've slept in a vehicle since I was little kid.

I wake on what is technically Tuesday. It just feels like I've taken a nap though, and definitely not like I had the night's sleep I'm craving. We go through the usual airport mess, and end up walking a long way to the tube. It feels awkward with our big packs, but it isn't too busy. After a few stations they tell everybody to get out to wait for the next train because this one won't go any further. We wait. The train comes. We get in. We get out at Victoria Station, where we pick up our train tickets to Sandwich. We also leave the station briefly and buy some kebabs at the hole in the wall on the other side of the street. 6 pounds seems entirely reasonable for a sandwich and fries - excuse me, chips. Then it starts seeming a little expensive, but it turns out we get a large amount of food. Imagine a $10 take-out sandwich with fries. The only thing they skimp on is the pita bread which makes eating it kind of exciting. We're still eating when the train pulls out of the station on the way to Sandwich.


In Sandwich we get out and using the little map I printed out at home we start
walking to the road our campground is on. When we get to it I guess that the
campground will be away from the center of town so we head that way. After
about a mile of walking there still is no sign of a campground. A passing girl
thinks it's the other way but doesn't really know. Jumping at the chance to
mispronounce Woodnesborough Road, I ask somebody who's fixing an RC car in his
front yard. While he's explaining to us where the campsite is, a woman walks
out of the house who offers to drive us there. Too tired to even properly
thank her, we squeeze into her car with our packs. A few minutes later we
arrive at Sandwich Leisure Park. It's off a short and small unnamed road which
hits Woodnesborough Road a hundred yards or so west of the railroad crossing.
We eat the rest of the afternoon's kebab's and crash.


In the morning we acknowledge the campground some more. There is a mobile home
section as well as space for many caravans. Tent camping appears to be on its
way out in England although the area we're in does have a few. They're all
large tents with vestibules, extra rooms, and lots of guylines. I half expect
to encounter one with a second floor. The grass is perfect for pitching a
tent. It's short, very flat, and soft enough that tent pegs go in easily but
hard enough that they don't move. There is no privacy. The bath house proudly
displays a 2005 Loo of the Year Award. It's not misplaced.


At the local co-op (which is a large national chain anyway) they're doing
construction with loud tools. Unable to properly communicate, we buy some
bread, yogurt, and fruit. This will become our standard English breakfast. We
eat our breakfast near the harbor, watching some chaperones try to herd a
class of little kids to an unknown destination. Sandwich is a nice little
town. Its center still shows signs of real age in the shape of narrow streets
and nice stone buildings. A few buildings have signs next to them, the chief
one being a church which queen Mary reportedly visited. Inside it is big,
empty, and not ornate like churches that tourists typically visit. Close to
the church we find a local nature preserve. It's small, but big enough to
escape the town feeling with trees all around. There's a small trail that goes
to the side of the creek. As I arrive at the creek I notice a duck swimming
away, wiggling its butt, and generally drawing attention to itself. Looking
closer what it was swimming away from is a nest with 2 chicks and 2 eggs in
it. It's the highlight of my morning.


In the afternoon we decide to walk to the Roman ruins nearby. On the way there
we take a footpath because it seems to go in the right direction. Lacking a
map we continue across the road we should've turned right on, which takes us
through nice green fields, some mud, and a patch of nettles. We decide this
can't be right and backtrack, making it to the ruins over the road. They're
interesting. We're at the site of the first fort the Romans built in their
conquest of England. After being a fort it turned into a town, and at one
point housed an enormous 50 foot tall arch. In the evening we eat at the local
pub. I have some kind of stew while Danielle eats an Indian-inspired dish. I
like hers better.


Thursday morning we take the train to Canterbury. While at the station we ask
the ticket office lady how early we can get to Harwich if we leave as early
possible. After much digging in a very thick book, she tells us a time which
is not early enough for us to catch our boat on Saturday. So tomorrow night
we'll have to be significantly closer to Harwich than we are today. At
Canterbury we walk around town a bit, changing some more money, and then
reaching the cathedral. We buy tickets for a guided tour and kill some more
time by looking for a place to browse the web. Doing this we stumble across a
cool-looking old building which currently houses a small public museum and the
library.


We share our tour guide with 3 other people: a French lady who recently moved
to the area, and two Australian tourists. Our tour guide does a good job. I
especially enjoy learning that houses of a certain era are built wider as they
get taller because at the time, property tax was based on square footage at
ground level. We walk around on the cathedral grounds but we don't actually go
in the cathedral. Later we pay some extra money to go in by ourselves. The
main part of the cathedral is closed off because there's a graduation ceremony
going on but other parts are still accessible. This does have the benefit that
we get to listen to some organ music while we were walking around. It's like I
remember the old churches my parents used to drag me in. For all I know I've
even been in this one before. Or maybe they're just all alike. Trying to take
the scenic route to the train station we get a bit lost and end up walking
down a decidedly unscenic road that lacks a sidewalk. Back at the campsite we
use the payphone to organize a campground for tomorrow night. We'll be staying
at Abbey Wood.


Packing up goes pretty quick, but getting to Abbey Wood takes longer than I
feel it should. Train to London, tube to a different part of London, train to
Abbey Wood, and then walk maybe half a mile to the campground. The campground
is mostly caravans, with a slightly sloping grass area for tents. It also has
a very impressive fence around it. It's probably 12 feet high with electrified
wire on top. The gate closes at night and we're given a security code to get
in. We start walking to the grocery store and it's taking a while. It's hot
and the most scenic thing in sight are the red double-decker buses driving
past us. Then we hit a big road and we don't see how to cross it. So we figure
we just get on a bus and it'll take us to the grocery store. We do and it
does. The grocery store is huge and we pick up some meat rolls which we eat
sitting on a bench that's falling apart at the side of a lake. Behind the lake
we can see masts of boats going up and down the Thames but we never make it to
the river. Instead we take the bus back to the train station.

From the train station we walk to the Abbey Wood Monastery, which still has
some of its walls standing. It's in a very nicely landscaped park, next to a
forest. We wander around a bit, but bladder pressure has us return to the
campground sooner than we'd like. Later that night we return to the park to
eat our kebabs there.

We're up, and I don't think anybody else is. If they know what's good for
them, they're not up yet. But we need to catch a boat, so we're up. We time
everything about right, and get to the train station a few minutes before the
train. We take the train to London. (In the area we've been to it's true that
all trains lead to London.) Subway to Liverpool Street, and then the train to
Harwich. Somewhere in there we buy some sandwiches from a chain which claims
no sandwich is ever more than 30 minutes old. It tastes good, even if it's
overpriced. We get to the boat too early. There's nobody in the check-in line
so that's over quickly. There is nothing really to do at the terminal but sit
and read.


Getting on the boat is pretty painless. We go through security etc. but it's
pretty low-key compared to the mess at most airports. The boat is a lot
smaller than I remember North Sea ferries being when I was little, but maybe I
was just little then. It certainly goes a lot faster. The crossing takes 3
hours and 40 minutes. I remember it taking all day when I was a kid. We eat
some bad food. I sit and read while Danielle watches a muted Tour de France,
and then volleyball which she really gets into.

The boat arrives and to me, this is really what the vacation is about. So far
it feels like we've spent twice as much time traveling as we have
vacationing. Upon arrival in Hoek van Holland we go to buy some train
tickets but the ticket office is closed. There are two ticket machines there.
One takes coins, the other takes Dutch bank cards. All we've got is a few
20-Euro bills so neither of those are helpful. Luckily we track down a
conductor who tells us that we can just buy our tickets on the train which, at
this point, is right about to leave.

We sit on top of a double decker train to Rotterdam, and then a different train
to Utrecht. The Dutch train system feels like it's a lot easier to navigate
than the British one. At first it's a little disconcerting that there aren't
monitors everywhere telling you when which train is leaving, but then you
realize that all that information is right there on the big yellow boards. And
you know right away what track your train is going to leave on, instead of
having to wait until that information is posted on the big board. We have a
bit of a wait in Utrecht where we pay to go the very clean restroom. Then we
buy 1 liter of freshly-squeezed orange juice. It doesn't taste as good as at
home, but I suppose the oranges are grown more than 50 miles away here.


We take a train to Hilversum, and arrive there quite quickly. We buy a map and
walk to Hotel Ravel,
where we get a room in the attic. It's hot when we get in, but the windows
open wide and soon it's nice and cool. Using the hotel's Gouden Gids and the
map I bought, I discover that all campgrounds would have space for a small
tent like ours. Next I call my friend Marnix who answers his phone, and we
agree to meet Tuesday afternoon in Amsterdam. We walk back towards the city
center and have dinner at the Greek restaurant there which is called, what
else, Parthenon. We're a little bit confused coming in, waiting for somebody
to show us a table. Eventually we ask for one specifically and the waitress
tells us to pick any table we want. The food is excellent, and we really enjoy
it. Ouzo isn't bad, either. After dinner we sit around for a while waiting for
the waitress to bring us the bill, but it's not happening. We think maybe we
need to go to the register and pay there, but nobody else is doing that.
Eventually I ask our waitress where we pay, to which the answer is a slightly
puzzled "with me." I think I'm confusing people by speaking passable Dutch,
but not having a clue about how to act.

The next morning we sleep in, and have a nice small-buffet breakfast at our
hotel. I make sure to have Danielle try the hagelslag. Afterward the first
order of business is to get a campsite. We rent some blue single-speed comfort
bikes from the train station. We ride them to the hotel where we pick up our
packs. The pack tops fit nicely on the bike rack, but most of the weight is
still on our backs. Getting used to cycling with a pack on doesn't take too
long, and we leisurely ride to the campground, which is a few miles south of
Hilversum's center, just across a nice patch of heather.


We get to a campsite where we're pointed to the small-tent area, which is
about the size of a regular US site but is home to 4 small tents when we
arrive. Somebody is just packing up so we wait for him to load everything onto
his bicycle and set up our tent where his was. We're going to relive some of
my childhood by biking to Lage Vuursche and eating pannekoeken there. On the
way there it looks like we're in danger of arriving early so we take a short
detour to the Wasmeer. Arriving in the tiny town of Lage Vuursche, we see a
lot of other people have decided to do the same thing we're. But there is
enough space for everybody so we find a place to sit outside, and once we
figure out that we're supposed to flag down the waiter to order, we get food.
Danielle also gets a koffie verkeerd which we never quite manage to figure out
what it is, but she does like it. I drink a bitter lemon which doesn't taste
as good as I remember it.


In the afternoon we bike to my old house. It's pretty similar to the way it
was. The main differences are that they took out a lot of oak trees and bushes
next to the church. Next up, we go look for a grocery store where we can buy
some dinner. If you're reading this I'm sure you don't know what day it is,
and neither do we. It's Sunday, which means all the stores are closed. We bike
through the town center where somebody has dumped a lot of sand so they can
have beach volleyball. The VVV recommends trying the large gas station on the
other side of what I recall as being a large hill. Actually it's not that big.
They don't have any food either. Because we're so close we stop by the house
whose front door I ran through. The bottom part of the door is still wood. We
finish up the day by having dinner at the airport restaurant, which is right
by our campsite. This is not a big airport, but just a small local one. Most
of the air traffic consists of gliders landing. The food is good, and the
waitress shows off her English, which is also good, to Danielle.

We wake up and get ready to go pretty quickly. This is mainly motivated by the
fact that we don't have any food. Getting on our bikes, Danielle discovers
that her butt is very sore from biking all over the place yesterday. There's
not much to do except bike into town. I know what it feels like, and it's not
a good feeling. Much to Danielle's annoyance we bike past the train station to
the Super grocery store, which is the only one in town I know the location of.
We grab some yogurt, bread, fruit and tasty licorice. The bulk licorice section
I remember the store having is gone, but the bagged stuff is just as good. At
the checkout a frustrated cashier is wonders why we didn't weigh our apples.
Apparently you're supposed to put them on a digital scale, punch the button
that has your variety of apples on it, and then put the sticker that gets
printed out on the bag. Oops.

Breakfast in hand we return to the train station, where our train arrives
shortly. We do witness a conflict between some guy who doesn't have a ticket
and 4 security guards who don't want to let him onto the platform. After much
yelling by the guy, and some talking back and show of force by the security
guards the guy leaves. We change trains and eat our breakfast which turns
out to be quite good. We especially like the yogurt we got. In Apeldoorn we
wait longer than expected for the bus. Overall traveling takes longer than I
hoped it would, but really no longer than can be expected. We arrive at our
destination for the day: the Apenheul.


After a short safety lecture we get a monkey-proof bag and enter the zoo.
The Apenheul is known as a place where monkeys walk free and it starts out
good with an area filled with squirrel monkeys. They tend to stay away from
the visitors, but occasionally they will climb on people and baby carriages
hoping to get some food. We organize our time in the park according to the
feeding times of the various monkeys and apes. Throughout the park I'm
continuously impressed by how many of each species they have. This really
allows the social animals to live in a group and you get to watch their
interactions. They even have a large group (we saw 4) of mongooses. Highlights
for me include the lemur feeding, the squirrel monkey feeding, and the orang
utans. Watching at least a hundred squirrel monkeys flow through the trees to
the feeding station is a sight to behold. To top it off a squirrel monkey
spends some time on my shoulder, until it finally finds a safe way off. The
orang utans (there are at least 7, including 2 enormous males) seem happy
in their homes. They swing leisurely on their ropes, climb around, and nap
a little. One of the females had recently given birth, and looks like she's
protecting her little one from another jealous female. It's probably natural
behavior, but I feel concerned about the baby. We stay in the park until
closing time.

On the way back to the bus we wander around a little bit in the park that the
Apenheul itself is in. We see some wild pigs (in a fenced off area) and climb
to the top of a lookout tower. It feels creaky and unstable, and I'm glad when
we're finally on the ground again. We take a bus to the train, to another
train which turns out not to stop in Hilversum. Instead we end up in
Amsterdam. We get on a train that I'm convinced will stop in Hilversum and
luckily the conductor is understanding about the fact that our tickets don't
match the train we're on.

In Hilversum we bike to an Indonesian restaurant that's on the way to the
campsite but it's closed. Danielle is still very uncomfortable on the bike,
and she won't bike any distance that's not essential to get to the campsite.
Because I'm unsure how many restaurants are in between here and the campsite
we grab the first one we see, which is a sushi place. The menu on the outside
appears OK, but I must have been looking at the lunch menu because this place
is seriously expensive. We have our usual sushi meal of miso soup and various
rolls, and part with a large stack of cash money. Of course just a few hundred
yards on our bike ride to the tent we pass a different restaurant, that looks
like it would be priced a lot more reasonably.

The next morning we repeat yesterday's process, except that Danielle feels
less sore and we take a train to Amsterdam instead of Apeldoorn. We decide
that the flower market would be a nice place to sit and have our breakfast,
but we're wrong. The market itself is great fun with all kinds of plants being
on display. We especially like some huge hanging pitcher plants. Eventually we
do find a bench, but it's not really warm enough to be truly enjoyable. To top
it off I'd selected some gooseberries as our fruit, reasoning that I hadn't
ever seen them in the US and remember eating them as a kid. I don't know what
I exactly remember but these taste very bitter and we toss them after sampling
a few.


After breakfast we decide we want to see the Rijksmuseum. When we get there
there is a huge line and we don't care that much, so we turn around. In search
of a bathroom we go into a restaurant where we have coffee and hot chocolate.
Next we go looking for a place where we can take a boat tour, and we quickly
find one. To kill time until the boat leaves we walk a short ways through the
Vondelpark. The boat tour is quite good. It's especially neat to see all the
houseboats everywhere. After the tour we head towards het Museumplein where
we're supposed to meet my friend Marnix. On the way there we stop by a seafood
stand where I have my first ever Hollandse Nieuwe, which is raw herring with
onions. It tastes great, and it's unfortunate that I never discovered that
while I lived here.


At the Museumplein we sit on the edge of the pond, waiting for my friend.
Danielle wants to know how we'll recognize each other, and I admit we're just
assuming we'll recognize each other. I don't really know how to describe
Marnix except as tall and blond, and he'll look like he's looking for
somebody. I spot several people who match that description, but none of them
look right. At last I see him walking towards us, looking very much the way I
remember him: tall and blond and smiling. After introductions, we go for a
walk around the city.


We speak mostly English so Danielle can follow along. We look for a hofje, but
the one we're headed to is closed. So we wander around some more, sit down for
a drink, wander around some more, have another drink, wander around some more
still, and grab dinner at an Indonesian restaurant. Our wandering takes us
through the red light district twice, and past a church with a nice carillon.
But mostly I'm enjoying talking with an old friend. The food is very tasty,
and this lets me scratch another item off my list of things to show Danielle.
After dinner we train/bike back to our tent.

Today, we move camp south. So we're up our usual early time, stuffing all our
belongings into the backpacks. While biking towards the station we see that
it's market day. We can't pass that up, so we get off our bikes and walk
around the market a bit, heavy packs and all. While there we eat some fresh
stroopwafels, which don't taste quite as good as I think they ought to. We
also buy some cheese which is fun. You ask the guy who runs the place for a
specific age of cheese, and with a few flicks of his huge knife he'll get you
some samples. Then you ask again, until you've find the cheese you like. We
get a sizable chunk of fairly old cheese.

After that we return our bicycles at the train station and buy our tickets to
Dordrecht. Once we get there, the first order of business is to rent some
bicycles. Since almost every train station has a bicycle rental place right
next to it that is not a problem. We stop by the VVV for campground
information, and we decide to stay at a campground that is in the Biesbosch, which we want to visit anyway.
The Biesbosch is a large wetland, with hundreds of small creeks, beavers, and
vegetation that can handle the brackish water. We get directions (take a left
and keep going straight) and we're on our way. I decide that straight means
"follow the signs that read 'Biesbosch'" and we take a right. You can see
where this is going. We end up biking through some beautiful polder landscape
with horses and sheep, but eventually decide we've gone too far and bike back
to the last sign. We confirm that we were in fact going in the right
direction. Danielle, who is still suffering from bicycle soreness, takes a
rest while I go to figure out where we should actually be going. A friendly
man and his dog explain the way, which involves taking a turn that isn't
signposted.

The campground where we arrive is situated right behind a low-budget hotel
(almost more like a hostel). We consider getting a room, but low-budget still
means expensive so we skip. The campground might be nicest we've staid at so
far in that our tent actually feels a little bit private. We spend the
afternoon doing laundry and lounging about in the hotel's common room while it
rains. We also go for a walk and check out the Biesbosch visitor center. For
dinner we eat at a restaurant at the swimming lake. It's deserted, but the
food is decent.


The next morning we show up at the canoe rental place right as it opens and
get a two-seater. We follow one of the recommended routes that takes is on
some small rivers and much smaller creeks. It is very peaceful floating on the
water, in between trees and reeds. This is definitely the best way to see this
area. Some ducks come begging for food but we pass them by pretty quickly when
they discover we don't have any. The weather looks a little bit threatening
but it's quite nice, if a little chilly.


After our canoe trip we bike into Dordrecht, discovering the route we
should've gone yesterday. It is in fact straight all the way. In Dordrecht we
go to the harbor, and find the water taxi. After a short wait it takes us to
Kinderdijk, which is probably the most
touristy spot in The Netherlands. Along a dike are a lot of windmills which
used to pump water out of the lower-lying polder into a body of water next to
it. Modern pumps do that job now, but the windmills are still standing. When
we arrive a number of mills even have the sails on, which is nice to see.


We wander down the dike, trying to understand the signs that explain what
water gets pumped where, and why. One windmill is open to visitors, so we
go in. The neatest thing is probably the huge, handmade, wooden gears. We
walk around a bit more, but there really isn't all that much to see besides
a lot of windmills. It starts to rain a bit so we hide in a restaurant where
we have hot drinks and pie. It's dry when it was time to take our boat back,
and it rapidly gets us back to the Dordrecht harbor.


It's still early in the afternoon, and with nothing better to do we decide to
follow the Dordrecht historic trail. The weather is dreary, with occasional
drizzle, so this isn't as nice as it could be. The harbor is quite nice, with
a lot of large sailboats docked here. The town's center also feels right, but
because of the weather the streets are fairly empty. It is telling that one of
the highlights is seeing rabbits in the pet shop window. We hide in Pim's
Poffertjes restaurant, where we eat poffertjes (another check mark for my
list) which are very tasty. Afterward we go back to our campground and spend
the rest of the afternoon reading in the common room. For dinner we wind up at
last night's restaurant again.


Today is a day I've been looking forward to, and Danielle's been apprehensive
about because we're planning on a long bike ride. We get up early and take our
bikes on the boat to Dordrecht, courtesy of free tickets we got at the
information center. From there we take our bikes on the train to Middelburg,
which is in the far southwest of the country. On the way there the train stops
in the middle of nowhere. Cows on the left, and cows on the right. It turns
out somebody pulled the emergency brake, and soon we're on our way again. We
arrive in Middelburg, and make our way to the VVV, which isn't where our
guidebook says it is. We do find it, though, and buy a bicycle map of the area.
We also buy yummy broodjes haring for breakfast.


Finally, we're off. After a bit of searching to find the right road out of
town, we are headed towards the Stormvloedkering.
Our guidebook promised a nice bike ride, but soon we find ourselves on a bike
path that parallels a fairly busy road, and we follow this for a while. It
does run through farmland, but the traffic takes away from the beauty of it
all. Once we hit the North Sea things do get prettier, but also a lot windier.
We're cycling on a paved path atop some tall dunes, looking at the beach.
There isn't much going on at the beach, but some people are kite surfing.


Eventually we arrive at the dam itself. Biking over it, we face a strong wind.
We stop to peer over the side at the massive metal doors, which are currently
open. We slowly bike onwards to Neeltje-Jans, an artificial island that isn't
quite halfway. We stop to watch a few sailboats go through a lock. (Thinking
about it now, I can't imagine why a lock would be required there, but there
was one.) A little bit further we arrive at our destination: a museum about
the Deltaworks. There are several interesting exhibits, but the best part is
the movie about the creation of the Stormvloedkering (subtitled in English for
Danielle's benefit). After a couple of hours we begin the bike ride back.


To avoid the busy roads of the way in, I decide on a different way back, and
it is indeed a lot nicer. It does involve taking a ferry, though. When we get
there it turns out to be just a small stop, where a ferry picks up passengers
just 3 times a day. This is not what I expected, since the map just showed a
regular ferry route. Lucky for us, the last stop of the day is in about an
hour. We kill time in a restaurant at the harbor, where I eat onion soup while
Danielle takes pictures of some swans. The ferry is in fact quite small, and
it involves a bit of work to get everybody's bicycles on board, but we do
manage. Crossing the water only takes a few minutes, and we do the same dance
backwards.


From there it's more or less a straight shot back to Middelburg. We take the
train back to Dordrecht where we decide to find Pim's Poffertjes again. It
takes a while, but we do locate it, only to discover that it's closed. We
wander around a bit looking for a restaurant that looks reasonable and open.
We settle on De Reiziger, which
advertises that they have the best desserts in the area. I'm looking forward
to those desserts, but I'm so hungry that I do order appetizers. When the main
course arrives it's so huge that any plans for dessert are thrown out the
window. After dinner, Danielle dance to an appropriate song, but the floor is
very grippy so it doesn't work very well. Our waitress seems to like it,
though, and offers to play any song we like. Since the floor (and our shoes)
aren't very suitable, we decline. Finally, we bike back to our tent, actually
getting to use the lights that come with them.

Today we start our journey home. We pack up and bike, fully loaded, back to
Dordrecht to return our bikes. From there we take the train to Rotterdam,
where we stuff our packs in some lockers. We wander around a little past the
construction that surrounds the train station, looking for a pleasant place to
eat our breakfast. We find some benches with some water, but the weather isn't
that great. A multi-lingual homeless person asks us for money, which just goes
to show how prevalent English-speakers are in Holland. Afterward we wander
about a bit, but there's nothing to see really except lots of stores.
Rotterdam was flattened during World War II, so it doesn't have the old charm
of many of the cities we've been to.

We decide to check out the architecture museum, which our book recommends.
It's got some interesting information, but I'm not a big fan of the
presentation. The best exhibit concerns similarities between Amsterdam,
Tokyo, and Venice. I would've loved to read more about the socio-economic
factors that lead to this similar development, but I suppose this is an
architecture museum. Afterward we also get to see Sonneveld House, which is a
house built to be extremely modern, in the 1930s. It's not very interesting
either.

We meander back to the train station, and on the way happen upon a
skateboard event that's going on. They've got a huge halfpipe set up where
several semi-pros are showing their stuff, as well as some of the locals. We
get to see people do many "basic" moves as well as some 720s and backflips.
Seeing this kind of thing live is much more impressive than on TV or in Tony
Hawk. There is a very real many (10?) foot drop if something doesn't work out
right. This is the best thing we get to see in Rotterdam. We stop by a
chocolate store where Danielle buys some gifts and souvenirs. Then we get back
to the train station. We don't get there with much time to spare, and there is
a little bit of excitement getting our packs out of the lockers as about 12
Germans are trying to get their packs in, but apparently lacking the correct
change.


On the brief trainride to Hoek van Holland we wave goodbye to the cows, and we
stand in a few lines until they let us on the boat. The boat ride is pretty
uneventful. I buy a copy of Spanish
Steps
, which at that time seems to be the funniest thing I've ever read.
(Completing the book at home, it's not as funny as I first thought but still
worth reading.)

The boat arrives in England and we get on the train to Colchester, where we
have to walk to our hotel. Some local train conductors point us in the right
direction, just take a right and keep going straight. Again we fail to follow
directions, this time because we follow the signs to Colchester's center
instead of going straight, but we do make it to our hotel. There, a nice
Indian lady walks us through what feels like a maze to our room. We grab fish
and chips from a small place just down the street, which is also run by
Indians. We take it back to the hotel room where we eat a ton of fish and
chips while watching British TV. Tummies full, we enjoy sleeping in a bed for
a change.

In the morning we get up early, downstairs for our complementary breakfast
just before they start serving. A few minutes late our Indian hostess walks
in, and just a few minutes after that she appears with 2 plates of English
breakfast. We eat our food faster than I would've thought possible. In a few
minutes I eat my egg, sausages, bacon, and even 2 bites of toast. At that
point we run off to catch the train to London. It turns out we left breakfast
earlier than necessary, but that is good because once again we fail to just go
straight to the train station. We do make it in time, and are even able to buy
tickets despite the early hour.

In London we take the tube to Heathrow, taking to care to follow the
directions that route us around the outages caused by the bombing. We arrive
at Heathrow without any problems, but much later than we would have liked. So
we queue up with everybody else, nervously watching the clock. To our relief
we get pulled out of the line to go ahead, only to be told that we need to be
in another line. We make it through there by being pulled out again, advance
to the beginning of the first line, and finally get to queue up for security.
It makes you wonder why you should bother showing up early in the first place.
Danielle is quite nervous still, but I'm pretty convinced we'll make it. We do
in fact make it to the gate before the airplane starts boarding. Due to our
late arrival we don't get the seats next to each other that we would like, but
Danielle convinces the girl next to her to swap places with me.

The flight is long, and I watch many movies on the personal in-flight
entertainment system. The best one was probably Hitch. Finally in LA, we find
our car (despite not being able to find the piece of paper where we wrote down
where we'd parked it) and drive home.

Lessons Learned

On a honeymoon your primary goal should be to relax. We did way too much. It
was fun, but we weren't much less tired when we got home than when we left.
There was too much traveling in England. We should've just stuck to one
country. Camping really worked out well. It saved a lot of money and wasn't
uncomfortable. The Big Agnes sleeping pad
I got was awesome. It folds down to very small, and is as comfortable as an
air mattress. I like to eat.