Ganzenhof, Amsterdam- When I first set out to live in the van, I had to practice a bit first. Well, driving for one. Not really knowing how to drive a manual, I kept stalling out in 1st gear. I texted my dad about the horrors. He revealed a secret…start in 2nd. I employed this new tactic I was quickly on my way to campervan freedom, well, “unassuming work van” freedom. Secondly, how does one find a suitable place in the words of Harry the Cat, (my wild and recently deceased grandfather) to “shit, shower and shave?” We had a lot of work to do on this baby.
While still paying rent and having a safe place to go back to in case something happened, which it did- we were able to “practice” our camping skillz both in the city and in the true gems of Holland (outside of Amsterdam). We also wanted to try storing food, cooking and generally being in a van with a large dog for many hours. Rolfie also had to learn some manners.
We took the van for a spin. “Let’s see how far we can go!” before I have a anxiety attack. The first place we went was De Hoge Veluwe National Park. We arrived and these people wanted €20 to enter. First rule of living in a van, STOP.SPENDING.MONEY. We didn’t really need to see the park, we just needed to feel detached from city life. The Dutch are infamous for their BBQs! BBQ in the park, BBQ in the street, BBQ on a boat. So that is just what we did.
We drove out of the parking lot and down the road to a smaller lot with good scenery. We started up the BBQ. Being vegetarian or vegan was ideal for us because cooking meat is messy and storage can turn ugly if you don’t have the luxury of a fridge. We ate, drank a beer, smoked a jonje and walked down the many paths throughout the village. I was also crocheting scoodies at the time so we had a photoshoot.
We made it back to Ganzenhof just in time to find some awesome van furniture in the “rest” or garbage as the Yanks say! If you ever need fine 18th century bujairs or an antique, totally perfect, unbroken mirror just peruse the sidewalks of The Jordaan on Sunday night. These people’s garbage is any normal person’s diamond in the fucking rough and it is perfectly err, normal to go garbage diving. Now, living in Ireland, I dream of the day of my return to Amsterdam to load up the van with loot on a Sunday night!