My wife and I were excited to make the trip over to Europe. The initial reason to travel was to participate in a class in Amsterdam, but we decided to arrive a week early, celebrate a marriage milestone and do some travelling. As a geocacher, of course that meant a whole new continent for me to find geocaches on! This wasn’t our first time in Europe, but it was my first time there as a geocacher. In the past, geocaching has brought us to some amazing places and I expected the same in Europe.
Preparation and Arrival
The preparation for this trip spanned six months and we were ready. We had a solid plan in place, knowing which country we would be in each day of the week. The week would start and end in Holland just in time for my course to begin. Everything was set. But first, we had to make our way over.
After driving twelve hours from Georgia to Virginia to drop our children off with relatives, we caught a quick flight from Norfolk to New York City. After a long lay over, checking in with our airline and getting through security, we finally boarded our aircraft. We were expecting a six hour flight to Amsterdam…until there was an engine problem…that lasted nearly four hours. The bright side was, the flight wasn’t cancelled as that would have thrown our plans in disarray, but it was a rough start to the trip.
Once we finally arrived in Holland, we grabbed our bags and made our way through customs. After picking up our rental car, we had a few hours before we could check into our hotel. So we did what any good geocacher would do in a new country…and set off to find our first cache. I’m a fan of EarthCaches, so we drove north of Amsterdam to a great little park where one was located. During our drive, we were instantly enchanted. The fields were super green and the small towns we drove through seemed very picturesque. We fell in love instantly.
Driving and Caching Overseas
While I was trying to take in the beauty, driving initially terrified me. Many of the driving rules are the same as the US, but we don’t have anywhere near the number of bicyclists Holland has! They are everywhere! Overall, I was being quite cautious, especially since I had just come off of a ten hour flight.
We made it to the park and a quick walk later, we’re at, “Groundwater Purmerbos”, (GC27MYF). It was a ground water monitoring station, allowing you to see how high the water table was through a tube inserted in the ground. We obtained the logging requirements and filmed an episode for the first season of letsgoearthcaching.com, a video blog that we recently started. After heading back to the car, we started to become sleepy, so we headed to the hotel for a quick nap.
Of course, after waking up, hunger kicked in. We located a local restaurant within walking distance and set off. Our path took us through a secluded park, and because it was the weekend, we pretty much had the whole thing to ourselves. Our meal was delicious, but meals times are lengthy when compared to the states. While my wife was quite fine with taking her time, I wanted to finish and go find some caches. In between courses, I did what I typically do in a new place and checked the geocaching app to see
if there were any caches around…and of course we had walked right by a traditional in the park.
Now, thankfully, Holland stays light really late this time of year, so after dinner we made our way back through the park…and stopped to take a look. Moments later, my wife ended up making the find, a fact that she’s quite pleased with.
After arriving back at the hotel, it was still light out. What’s a geocacher to do in this situation…go geocaching of course! So, we hopped in the car and headed towards some challenge caches, south of Castricum, I had found when doing my initial geocache planning. I didn’t want to waste the light and they were not too far away.
What does this sign mean?
I typically use the app to provide me with directions to the cache. We were on main roads at first, but eventually it put us on what can only be described as a farm road. It was literally two metal plates, for tires, over a dirt road, driving through fields. It felt odd to be on this “road,” especially with a rental car, but I was just following the directions. Thankfully it was late and I don’t think anyone noticed. There certainly was no other traffic on this road. After what seemed to be an eternity, we finally made it to the first cache. After finding three in quick order, it started to truly get dark, so we headed back to the hotel.
It was a long day of planes, trains and automobiles…and my tally for the day was one EarthCache, one Traditional and three Unknowns, but all in a new country which earned me a new digital souvenir.