Lucie Loves... Travel // My Summer Stena Drive adventure: Exploring the International Dollart Route with Stena Line and Visit Germany
Lucie Loves… Travel //
My #SummerStenaDrive adventure: Exploring the International Dollart Route with Stena Line and Visit Germany
I think a press trip is top of most blogger’s wish lists. I know it’s definitely one of my favourite things to be invited on, anyway…
Summer has truly crept up on us, ready-loaded with infinite excuses to get out and travel more!
I packed my bags and made my way to Liverpool Street Station, where I met fellow travel and lifestyle bloggers, Georgina from Georgina Does and Julie from Raining Cake, and Julie, our PR representative from Stena Line.
Together, we jumped aboard a train to Harwich International. Harwich is on the east coast, not far north of Clacton-on-Sea, and is the port of departure for ferries heading to the Hook of Holland (Hoek van Holland) – the train journey time from London to Harwich is just 1 hour 30 minutes. So fast!
Passports at the ready, we checked in, found our rooms and made our way to the metropolitan restaurant for a three course dinner.
The food onboard the ferry was far better than I’d expected. I opted for asparagus wrapped in cured meats, followed by the steak. By the time we’d eaten it was pretty late (due to a slight delay with our departure) and we were more than ready to hit the hay.
Early the next morning, having setting our alarms for the crack of dawn, I peeled open the blind to the porthole window of my cabin. Hello Holland! I have heard that the overnight ferry is the best one to choose, if you wish to arrive in Holland feeling rested after a decent night’s sleep.
After a quick shower, and a bit of a pamper session with my new Balance Mebeauty products, I got ready to meet the others for breakfast. I swear, dungarees are THE BEST travel outfit ever.
My friends and family know that I am terrible* at packing light.
So I was relieved at the fact that I could bung as much clothing into my large suitcase as possible – without having the fear of being charged extra for a heavy case.
*I blame my poor packing technique on a) my indecisiveness b) being in a rush and c) having too many clothes… Oops!
Ate a tasty cooked buffet breakfast onboard, to set me up for the day!
We disembarked the Stena Hollandica Superferry and made our way to catch the next train to Rotterdam Central Station.
After collecting our car hire, we continued our 3 hour 30 minute drive onwards to Leer, Germany, listening to a mixture of Dutch and German radio and Julie’s trashy pop playlist. It was great!
Once in Rotterdam, I managed to cadge a bit of free wifi at Rotterdam Central Station, do a couple of video snaps (follow me on Snapchat: LucieLovesSnap) and open Google Maps to try and find the car hire place…
We sped swiftly along the autobahn – a German motorway with NO SPEED LIMIT – and eventually arrived in Leer, our base for the next few days and our hotel, the Hotel Hafenspeicher.
The rooms at Hotel Hafenspeicher are not only luxurious, but also spacious, warm, and modern. Just look how big this bed is!?! The rooms have blackout curtains too, so my sleep was rather heavenly!
We quickly unpacked our bags and regrouped downstairs to meet our Visit Germany guide for the next few days, Uli. He took us on a walking tour of Leer, his hometown.
Leer is a sleepy little place, but I’m told it’s quite the escape for city folk wishing to get away from it all. Those who wish to enjoy the peace and quiet and natural beauty of Lower Saxony.
There are some quite cute vintage and thrift shops in Leer, so if you’re into finding a bargain, these will be right up your straße!
Our point of interest for the first afternoon in Germany was Bünting Tee Museum.
With the weather being a little grey outside, the museum was the perfect place for us to hide from the rain, and enjoy a cup of tea with a slice of raisin bread.
The spread really reminded me of visiting my Irish nana – my dad’s mum. The thickly spread butter, the strong tea and china cups. It’s almost like stepping back in time. So nostalgic.
Our guide at the tea museum told us how in Ostfriesland, when the cream is added to the tea, it is poured in using a tiny ladel, and done so in a anti-clockwise direction. The symbolism and sentiment behind this? It’s said to try and stop time. How lovely is that!
From a design point of view, as a lover of old advertising and typography, I really enjoyed seeing the museum’s collection of adverts, packaging and signage.
We then headed back through the streets of Leer, to our hotel to get ready for dinner.
Dinner that night was in the adjoining restaurant to our hotel, Pier 23, and consisted of a ship full of various homemade sushi, washed down with a bottle of 2014 Reisling white wine. Delicious!