Day 5: Tuesday, 23rd July
Day five of Caravan of the Force, in association with Toys”R”Us, began with a delicious breakfast in our Antwerp hotel, a wobble down two flights of stairs with our luggage to the car park (which the night before was the scene of a 30-minute hunt for a space) and off towards the Dutch border and our first appointment at 11.38 a.m. with the Dutch Garrison. We were timing our visit to also meet Martino and Daan who were cycling to Celebration to raise money for Opkikker, a charity that helps seriously ill children. As every garrison has been on the tour, the Dutch were excellent hosts, posing for photographs, donating to our Make-A-Wish collection and making a huge fuss of Jeremy as he was interviewed by the local media and greeted by fans.
A narrowly averted parking fine later (well done Matt, quick thinking) we were on our way to the Dutch capital of Amsterdam where at 2.00 p.m. we would meet more members of the Dutch Garrison at the Electric Ladyland, the First Museum of Fluorescent Art and its enthusiastic owner Nick Padalino. Nick, a Star Wars fan himself, was thrilled to meet Boba Fett and posed for pictures before taking us down into the basement for the tour, which consisted of a plethora of wildly coloured fluorescent stones and minerals. Lights darkened, the room literally glowed in every conceivable color, neon bathing the audience. It was definitely a far out experience, but one we wouldn’t have missed. Imagine an evening at the Outlander and you wouldn’t be far off.
From there we shared a drink with the Dutch Garrison guys near the banks of the Amstel before heading into the city, across Dam Square and alongside the river for a relaxed afternoon in the sun. For Maureen and Jeremy it was a chance to take in one of the great cities. After a late afternoon meal the Caravan left the winding streets and crazy cyclists and headed out to Utrecht, where we would spend our final evening before driving into Germany for Celebration Europe.