God Made the Earth, but the Dutch Made Holland

On a bit of a whim, and exactly six months after my last visit, Clare and I headed to Germany to visit Janina, Andreas, Vanessa and Ingo.

It was an amazing weekend starting with 4 hours sleep on the Friday night before heading off to Gatwick for our morning flight. To our delight the forecast was for high 20s and sunny, unprecedentedly warm weather for the time of year. We stepped out of the plane and were immediately down to t-shirts and ready to kick on the thongs!

Janina kindly picked us up from the airport and we headed to her place to drop the luggage before going into Düsseldorf for some shopping and lunch. It was very different to the last time I’d seen it, with beautiful flowers lining the streets and al fresco diners lining the sidewalk. We had lunch and a wander before picking Andreas up, visiting the Esprit factory outlet, and heading to Köln for, you guessed it, more shopping! I’m pretty sure Janina keeps German clothing retailers in business.

That evening, after showing Clare the Dom, we met Vanessa and Ingo for drinks (many) and dinner at a famous Colonian beer hall.

The following day was, again, beautiful and sunny and by early morning it was already up in the mid 20s. We donned our beach gear and headed for Janina’s Mum’s place where we picked up her BMW (complete with sat nav), asked it to take us to the beach in Holland and off we went! Within a couple of hours we were strolling along the water front as though it were the middle of summer. We had a bite to eat then went down to the sand to sit for a while and enjoy the beach.

When we started to burn we decided to head to Amsterdam for the afternoon.

It was really beautiful in the warm weather, sitting outside a coffee-shop watching the world go by. I liked Amsterdam the first time I was there, but the beautiful weather brought out a whole new side of it. We ended up staying quite late after a wander around the city, some drinks and a bite to eat, then headed home. Janina had to work the following day so it was an early night.

The following day Clare and I looked around the old town in Düsseldorf, but were seeking shade and a drink early in the day as things heated up fast. We later collected our bags from Janina’s and headed for Köln to wander along the river and spend some time before our plane left.

We got home pretty late that night, with work the next day, but it was a great break with perfect weather and I think Clare was glad to tick two countries off her list!

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