No, the reason I’m advising you to not take the car has nothing to do with the crazy standard of driving that exists throughout Ukraine and Russia, even though that is enough reason to leave the car at home. No, the reason is much simpler than that. And it’s all to do with whom you’ll be sharing the roads with on your way to beautiful Ukraine….Yes, you’ve guessed it….those crazhy Dutch and their plethora of caravans will be blocking the highways and by-ways of Ukraine and the rest of Eastern Europe this summer.
The penny dropped for me the other day when I was reading an article in the paper. Admittedly I got a clue earlier in the week from a Dutch colleague who told me that it was too far to drive for him…..DRIVE? To UKRAINE?? It’d take fucking ages to get there. And it would taker even longer if you were stuck in a contraflow behind the bane of every motorist in Europe….the Dutch Caravaner!!
European traffic from the Ardennes in Belgium to the French Riviera slows down annually every summer as tens of thousands of Dutch families hit the road in their caravans. Except this summer, the forests of the Ardennes, and the French and Spanish countryside will be somewhat more tranquil and spared as most football fans have already elected to take their trusty rust buckets on their adventures east to enjoy the regalia of the Euro 2012 finals in Ukraine.
Half a million of the towed mini-vacation homes are registered in the Netherlands, making the Dutch continental Europe’s biggest buyers, according to BOVAG, the local caravan dealers group. Caravaners include former Prime Minister Wim Kok. A quarter million caravans are used every summer, and most head for France, with traffic peaking at the end of July, figures from the Dutch Automobile Association show.
A typical summer exodus follows a very set regime. Families leave at precisely 6:30pm on a Friday (after dinner, of course) and will all hit the highways via car-caravan or campervan at the same time, stocked full of ample supplies and all things Dutch (think tents, sleeping bags, deck chairs, toilet paper, cheese, milk, potatoes, hagelslag, kroketten and drop and their other favourite Dutch staples).
Of course you may be wondering why the Dutch feel the need to bring their own food (or toilet paper for that matter) on vacation – well, you can’t expect any good food to be found across Europe’s top culinary locales can you? I am going to assume that it must be their fear of not getting a decent meal abroad – as it couldn’t possibly be due to their infamous….umm….cheapness!
According to the Volkskrant, the Dutch owner of a camping site in Ukraine reduced the prices at his campsite after several complaints. The organisation has now cut the price for a three night stay from €269 to €209 – provided campers have their own accommodation. Which means one thing….given that the Dutch LOVE a bargain, and it’s now cheaper, they’ll surely arrive en masse with their rust buckets in tow, full to bursting with their cheese, milk and hagelslag.
The Oranjecamping initiative was set up by a Dutch national, Jokko de Wit, who told the Volkskrant he is ‘pleased’ to be able to offer a reduction in the prices so the company can offer affordable accommodation ‘in combination with lots of Dutch fun’. So you know what that means…..Oom pah pah music being belted out until four in the morning, and wild blonde haired and blue eyed brats running around and misbehaving whilst their parents watch on with pride as their little ‘Jan’ is “expressing” himself.
And you are sure not to miss the familiar Dutch flag flying from the caravan roof. God forbid they ever be confused for a bunch of Germans!!! Wonder what the Ukrainians will make of it. They might think that the Wehrmacht has returned en-force!
Honey….fancy going to Bali this summer??