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Travelogue - from the Netherlands to London via Hook and Harwich

What a beautifully genteel way to travel ... from completing a course in a small Dutch town at around 5 p.m. yesterday via Gouda, Rotterdam and the Hook of Holland, the Stena Britannica to Harwich, and on by train to London. My schedule has been a tiring one so far this week - I can't really believe it's still only Thursday morning and yet I've travelled from home to the Netherlands, given a two day Apache httpd and Tomcat course, and I'm on my way back.

With ... some interesting snippets about the uses of httpd and Tomcat (single customer courses are always good for raining side issues that break the normal boundary box and produce useful FAQ answers!).

With ... some interesting experiences of travelling around and through Europe too. The modernness of Eurostar, yet the lack of at seat power. The heavyhanded security at St Pancras that went through all 9 of my laptops with swabs because "this is an internation journey" and yet the lack of any such checks on my way back on the ferry. The easy passage though a single immigration person on my way to the continent, and yet no fewer than ten staff at the immigration desks for foot passengers at Harich on the way back in, with the guy at the desk asking an awful lot of questions. The crowded trains in places, and yet the near-empty 8 carriage service (I have a coach to myself as I write, passing Mistley) on the Harwich to London boat train.

This route from the continent feels like "the route that time forgot". The suburban train that creeps out of the side platform (1a) at Rotterdam Central drops off most of its commuters along the way, with a final few staying on for the high rise blocks at the Hook of Holland, and perhaps onoe or two passengers for England. The old bay platform's still there at Hook of Holland Station, and the station restuarant too; it's about the only part of this complex that's remotely busy. I walk up the the reservation desk; the one chap there's almost delighted to see me, and hands me an impressive array of tickets, tokens and information (including a ticket for the journey I have just completed!) and directs me along the vast open hallways towards the ship which he assures me is boarding already, even though it's not due to sail for some three hours.


Two gents sit in passort control - "EU" and "Others". A casual glance at my passport, and I call on - up a long and wide walkway that climbs high over the dockside. It's fitted with modern travellators that start as you approach them, so that although the walk is a long one and rising, you're helped along the way. On board the ship, up a couple of flights to deck 10, and a steward directs you to your cabin. How excellent to find that "Internet at sea" is free of extra charge; slowing for sure, but then (as the paperwork points out), you're sharing a satellite link.


On the ferry The Stena Brittanica is a modern and smooth boat - and it's a lovely ride. I've chosen to post a picture of my cabin (I had this for single occupancy), but there are many more pictures I could have shared.


I had allowed myself the - luxury - of booking dinner on board. Travelling overnight cuts out a hotel bill, and I don't feel too guilty at buying a decent cabin and a decent meal with part of th saving. And what an excellent choice! When I told my customers I was coming back on the boat, one of them (a regular user of the service) told me how good the restaurant is, andof course that meant that - when I went up there - my hopes were alreay sky high and the scope for disappointent was great. But - even with the pre-amble - I was impressed.


The food was ... hot (clearly not the caesar salad), fresh and well cooked. My rare ribeye was indeed rare, and tender too, and the potato wedges were just right. The Belgian beer washed it down well, and the view from deck 9, over the dockside activity, gave me a grandstand view of a fascinating operation from the warmth and comfort of the restaurant. The staff were there and attentive, without being overbearing (and that's hard to balance for the single diner in what was a very quiet restaurant. I look to come back with lessons and examples for our team; there really weren't any major lessons here - for I found myself thinking "this is our customer service approach too" - but on board a daily ferry was one of the last places I expected to find a shining example of how to get it right.


As a photographer of food, I'm not vey good where the food is excellent as I'll forget to take the pictures in my excitement ...


And so - sleep - and a breakfast buffet starting at 05:30, disembarcation at 06:30 and the train to London at 07:15. Which is where I am now - coming up to 08:00 and approaching Witham. A few more people have joined at Manningtree, Colchester and Mark's Tey, but it's still mostly fresh air that's being carried.


2   3 seating in a 150/1 A Wednesday night in February is never going to be the busiest for foot passengers on the North Sea, but I found myself wondering at the very survival of the operation; long may it continue - I really hope that the Friday / weekend / Monday and summer and holiday times are much busier. It's a joy to travel this way ... three times better that the hassle of Eurostar, six times better than driving, and 10 times better than flying.

(written 2013-02-07)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z201 - Holidays and Business Trips
  [4731] To Oceanside and San Clemente Pier - (2016-11-23)
  [4728] Visiting Los Alamitos Bay Yacht Club - (2016-11-23)
  [4643] From last July (2015) - (2016-02-08)
  [4513] Yesterday, Weymouth - (2015-08-02)
  [4478] Home in Melksham to Gatwick Airport - easy by public transport - (2015-04-29)
  [4473] Fishguard to Melksham - third part of Dublin journey - (2015-04-25)
  [4472] Rosslare to Fishguard - foot passenger on the ferry - (2015-04-24)
  [4471] Leopardstown to Rosslare by train - (2015-04-23)
  [4433] Different views of a Welsh Valley - but headed home - (2015-02-20)
  [4249] An evening in Glasgow - (2014-03-19)
  [4215] Great beauty, but great natural danger - (2013-11-26)
  [4126] Where are we now? On holiday! - (2013-06-29)
  [3853] Blanford Forum, Dorset - (2012-09-01)
  [3742] Dysenni Valley, and nearby - (2012-05-24)
  [3737] Postcards from Barmouth - (2012-05-20)
  [3681] Kicking up a stink, the Victorian way? - (2012-04-02)
  [3381] Report - day trip from Swindon / Chippenham / Melksham to Weymouth - (2011-08-07)
  [3372] Wearing the new London uniform - (2011-07-28)
  [3346] Gibraltar - said to have a few residents less than Chippenham - (2011-07-05)
  [3345] Cruising - (2011-07-04)
  [3321] Travelling around - (2011-06-09)
  [3306] Photogenic Place - (2011-05-28)
  [3303] Flying tonight - (2011-05-26)
  [3300] Wildlife and other pictures from holiday - (2011-05-24)
  [2803] Travelling across Europe - (2010-06-12)
  [2797] Sur la T.G.V. - (2010-06-07)
  [2796] Sunday - waiting for the ferry. - (2010-06-06)
  [2759] Touching base - (2010-05-10)
  [2469] Beyond the Pale - (2009-10-22)
  [2313] Seeing Guadalajara - a first glimpse downtown - (2009-08-01)
  [2306] Melksham to Mexico for the week - (2009-07-27)
  [2269] Sipping at York - (2009-07-05)
  [2265] A chance to do the tourist thing - (2009-07-01)
  [2208] A beautiful coastline - (2009-05-30)
  [2200] England, Scotland, Northern Ireland - (2009-05-26)
  [2198] On the road, at a Service area thats a cut above the others - (2009-05-25)
  [2101] A B C D of GA and TN - (2009-03-23)
  [2100] Visiting Family - (2009-03-23)
  [2098] A room without a view - (2009-03-22)
  [2090] Melksham to Georgia - (2009-03-19)
  [2030] The final step to being British - (2009-02-07)
  [1992] A good time to travel - (2009-01-14)
  [1868] Liverpool - a friendly city - (2008-11-03)
  [1746] London for the visitor, for free - (2008-08-09)
  [1740] Vertical London - (2008-08-06)
  [1657] Farewell, Newcastle to Stavanger, Haugsund and Bergen - (2008-05-29)
  [1457] A day in Ljubljana - (2007-12-04)
  [1454] From Sunday to Monday, from Melksham to the Balkans - (2007-12-03)
  [1308] Good to be home - (2007-08-18)
  [1299] In the USA for a few days - (2007-08-11)
  [1293] Weymouth - Sunny Summer Sunday afternoon - (2007-08-07)
  [1291] Day trip to Weymouth - (2007-08-05)
  [1231] Sur le Continent - (2007-06-13)
  [1150] Helsinki - what comes naturally - (2007-04-15)
  [1143] A course in Helsinki - (2007-04-11)
  [1120] 1200 miles in 3 days - (2007-03-28)
  [1025] Tomorrow's keywords - London, Training, Course, PHP, Ruby. - (2007-01-08)
  [1004] Old dog, old tricks - (2006-12-22)
  [878] Easy criteria to meet - (2006-09-25)
  [684] Staying in the country - (2006-04-13)
  [620] Familiar names, close to home - (2006-02-23)
  [548] San Francisco - (2005-12-30)
  [518] Passport office - a much improved system - (2005-12-05)
  [420] Towards Tebay - (2005-08-20)
  [374] Instant availability - (2005-07-11)
  [373] Vik, Iceland to Melksham, England - (2005-07-10)
  [370] From Iceland - (2005-07-06)
  [368] Vacation Week - (2005-07-04)
  [81] Cafá keyboards - (2004-10-10)
  [65] Ireland - (2004-09-27)

Z521 - Navigable waterways - Canals, Rivers and Sea
  [4577] An update - Melksham Link Canal and river - (2015-11-14)
  [3815] The Melksham News - July 2012 - Part 2, TransWilts Rail, Wilts and Berks Canal - (2012-07-23)
  [3483] Canals, watererways in the Melksham area - (2011-10-16)
  [3482] Taking a boat down Caen Hill Locks - (2011-10-15)
  [3282] The future of canal management and charities - Kennet and Avon Canal bias - (2011-05-08)
  [3266] Easter on the Canal - near Melksham, Wiltshire - (2011-04-26)
  [3183] Redevelopment on the banks of the Avon in Melksham - (2011-02-25)
  [3157] A new monopoly on the ferry to Northern Ireland - (2011-02-04)
  [3023] Autumn walk from Bowerhill - (2010-10-31)
  [2950] Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, turns first sod in Melksham Link Canal - (2010-09-09)
  [2807] Canal through Melksham - the options and issues - (2010-06-13)
  [2730] Bird Watching on the Melksham Avon - (2010-04-18)
  [2588] Freddies Wood and the K and A Canal - (2010-01-17)
  [1986] Walk to Bowerhill - (2009-01-10)
  [820] Robert and William Whitworth - (2006-08-01)
  [793] The Wilts and Berks Canal - (2006-07-05)
  [776] Naming Rooms - (2006-06-24)
  [708] Linescapes of Mull - (2006-05-03)
  [598] Should we cruise around the world? - (2006-02-09)


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