A Travellerspoint blog

Hilvarenbeek - Safari Park Beekse Bergen

a few days of family fun between the animals


View Hilvarenbeek - 2022 on Ils1976's travel map.

15/08/2022 - finally we can leave!

A few years back I booked a three days trip to the Netherlands because my nieces really wanted to sleep between the animals and of course who am I to ignore something like that. A trip to Africa with the whole family is a bit expensive, so I did the next best thing and booked us a bungalow in Safari Resort Beekse Bergen, just on the other side of the Dutch border. This Safari Park in the Netherlands is especially known for housing loads of African animals where you can drive through with your car (at your own risk of course!) and since a decade, they also have bungalows where you can stay overnight. The ideal situation when you want to see nothing else but animals, animals and some more animals!

Being excited in January of 2020, the two little ones couldn't wait for summer to start but than ... COVID hit our blue planet and like millions of other people our traveling plans were put on hold.

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Telling this to the little ones wasn't easy but the promise of going next year was good enough for them, what choice did they had, but than we lost another year because our government decided that the province we live in was the "hellhole of the pandemic". (this was even said by the infamous Donald Trump a year before, but I guess he doesn't even know where Belgium lies). Anywayzzz, this meant of course we couldn't leave again!?!

During the summer of 2021 our province of Antwerp was to be avoided by all tourists and other Belgians, it was like we were spreading the virus into the world like none other. Of course we hadn't a clue, and of course this wasn't true, but when you got to blame someone, why not one province which was the most densely populated. This was a gamble of the government of which I think they are going to be reckoned with during the next election, but it meant that the other 9 provinces could travel. Just give up one and the others are happy they could go on their family holiday. It seemed we picked the shortest straw or how do you call something like that. And miraculously enough after summer was over and we sat out one more lockdown, the entire country went on lockdown again in October. I guess, that one province made sure the virus was spread to a next level during the month of September when we were aloud to go back to work and school and even having a short break!

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Thinking back on those days it was so ridiculous and I am wondering what the government is going to come up with in the following months that will come now that things are going in the right direction. Not that the little ones were so worried about it, the summer of 2022 was their year and they were going to be exploring all the animals of Africa and when we finally left our homes after two yeas we were all in a jolly mood.

Our road trip into the Netherlands was about a little more than 1 hour as we arrived in Hilvarenbeek and this was already enough for the youngest one which only wanted to go and watch animals and was full of energy.

As we drove towards our bungalow, we just wanted to take things slow, not rushing into it and instead of going straight to the safari park, we first had lunch and dropped the little ones at the local playground which they loved because they ware playing between giraffes and zebras. Tell me honest, which kid wouldn't like this.

In the afternoon we settled in our bungalow with views on more giraffes and as we walked into an old forest we soon found out that the safari park was kind of build around it.

The Safari park on itself is of course not that spectacular. It is an old park but it is a large one and said to be the largest one of the country. Built around water and forests it is a nice feeling walking through it especially during a hot day. With enough places to rest in the shade, we all had a nice enough day and while the little ones where gazing at all the animals, we had our rest once in a while with refreshments so what is not to like.

On our first arrival day we just visited the north part of the park seeing some lions, hyenas all the way to penguins and birds of prey.

We stayed till about 6 PM as we slowly walked back towards the main building of the resort and had diner at the local restaurant which had a quick and good service. With our tummies filled we had one last walk around the premises before heading back towards our little bungalow and nothing was more fulfilling than watching the sun go down while gazing at some elegant giraffes!

16/08/2022 - animal day!

Waking up and having breakfast when giraffes and zebras are grazing only a few meters away from your table!? It sounds crazy doesn't it, but that is just what our family experienced and while nibbling on my toast with jam, this was the best view in the entire world. I just wished I could wake up this way all the time, but one has to be realistic of course.

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Today we had an entire day of animal watching ahead of us and not only with the family. A friend of mine who lives in the Netherlands had a break from work as well and was going to join us with her son, so we met up on the north side of the park and together we took a boat safari all the way back to the main entrance. The entire trip took about half an hour and while we were slowly going on the water, we saw several animals who live near the water from buffalos to even yaks which I only saw once in Tibet. While this "cruise" was going on, we got a well detailed talk about all the animals we came across and even during our walking safari like they want to call it here, you could always find someone of the staff prepared to talk about the animals they are taking care of.

We spend an entire day at the park, walking all the different "safari trails" you could think of and of course the little ones had a blast taking all the different "survival trails" between the enclosures made out of tree trunks and cords. Some of them were quite easy, others were a bit harder but they were loved by all the little people and even the ones who are a bit older! :)

Besides the survival trails and the playgrounds spread all through the park I must say that I was amazed that they also had something that they would like to call the "interactive experience" which give children a more realistic idea about the world of poachers. Through sound effects and recordings they make sure children are aware what is happening in that part of world where animals are still in danger.

Although the park on itself looks a bit outdated, there is so much space for the animals to wander around unlike most of the zoos I have ever seen. The park on itself is huge indeed, but I guess that is why the number one item on the list of this park is the car safari. There is road within the premises of the park you have to follow with your own car while listening to an audio tour and learn all about the animals you encounter.

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During our stay in the bungalow we saw loads of cars driving through, but I didn't had the need to do it myself. I didn't see the added value of it all, so our family just sticked to the walking safari. This on itself was fun enough and a bit more healthier as well.

It must have been already late in the afternoon when I said goodbye to my friend and her son. They needed to go back home and with all the walking we did I also noticed that my parents were getting a little bit tired as well. The little ones were keen on checking out the small swimming pool in the resort, so while my parents enjoyed the view from our bungalow, the rest of us went for a relaxing swim which was a nice change from all the animals and a very welcome one since it was still hot outside.

Since we had such a nice experience yesterday, we went back to the restaurant at the main building and while the sun was setting, we had one last walk of the day watching all the animals fade away into the darkness.

17/08/2022 - not all things last

Another sunny morning awaited us and sadly enough our short break would be over as the day would pass, but not that we were already thinking about that of course. We had another sunny morning and just like yesterday we enjoyed the view while having breakfast.

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Since we were leaving later today we also needed to pack everything as well as to leave our bungalow spotless. So we gathered everything, loaded our cars and entered the safari park for the last time.

I must admit that it is quite overwhelming entering the park early in the morning before the big crowds and I think I will never say this again, but I really liked watching the hyenas early in the morning. It was all so peaceful. We also checked out the new favorite animal of my niece which was the okapi or the forest giraffe like they are called and of course the youngest one was crazy about the penguins. Kids will be kids of course! :)

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We had one last walk through the park and of course the kids really needed to test out as much "survival trails" as they could, but sadly enough when we reached the middle of the park around noonish, the weather changed on us and instead of sunny and hot weather, dark clouds hovered above us and finally after more than one week, we got some rain.

Strangely enough no-one cared so much about it. In the old days we would be a bit depressed when it rained cats and dogs, but now with all the drought of the last years, we don't mind so much. This year is even worse and I guess if this doesn't wake up all those deniers of climate change I don't know what we have to do to open their eyes.

Arriving back at the resort in the late afternoon with all our umbrellas in our hands, we had one last goodbye drink and on our way we were again direction home this time where we arrived about an hour later. When we arrived at my brothers house, the little ones were still sleeping. Somewhere during the drive the fell asleep, so it seems they take after me since that happens to me as well when I am on a bus! :)

It was but a short holiday but all in all it was a nice family getaway and I must admit that I am already thinking of a next one ... to be continued!

Posted by Ils1976 14:32 Archived in Netherlands Tagged children animals birds boats food road_trip adventure walk clouds holiday fun family africa Comments (0)

Amsterdam

a girls weekend getaway!


View Amsterdam - 2021 on Ils1976's travel map.

2020 - 2021 memories of the past

Ever since my last trip to Israel in March 2020, I must admit I dreamed a lot of new destinations to travel to, but then COVID hit Europe and made sure all my travel plans were "safely" locked away. Like the rest of the world, I thought it was going to be for just a few months and yep even I thought it was fun for a few months. Not having to go to work, doing nothing but read loads of travel blogs and even find my way to the wonderful world of Netflix.

It was indeed fun for a while, but not so fun anymore when the winter months came along and we still were confined to doing nothing but going to work. Meeting friends was a no no, meeting relatives was a no no, even going to see something more rather than your own inside of your house or garden was yet again a no no.

Liberty came along with the world announcing that you could get a vaccin and then we were all going to be free again! Yeah, something wonderful to look forward to in those dark days and yet again I started dreaming again of visiting all those amazing places on our blue planet.

2021 was near and everything looked better and brighter. That is, till our government decided that there were still going to be loads of restrictions, even for the lucky ones who were already vaccinated. The promise that everything would get better and more than better, after a few months, it seemed it only got worse and more worse, that is in my country at least!

June came along and I finally got the chance for my jab. Still reluctant to it all, I gave it a chance just to become FREE again and be able to travel, but when the summer months finally came along, it seemed that I still wasn't able to travel because of work related issues. Summer wasn't all that, so I didn't mind all that much, but now that fall is coming near and our government yet again told us we were going back to a normal life, things seemed to look a little bit brighter.

To be honest, I don't believe a word what our government says, but my need to travel is something that doesn't seem to disappear, so if I can't travel to far overseas destinations, I am more than happy to just travel in my own country as well as the ones close to ours.

04/09/2021 traveling is the only thing on my mind!

It seems quite unreal, but almost 1,5 year after my last trip, I could finally look forward to traveling again. It was going to be just a 2-day trip to the capital of the Netherlands, but still, I felt like a kid in a candy store and to be honest, I just couldn't wait for the night to be over. It was a short one, but I didn't mind at all.

At 5 AM my alarm clock woke me up, I jumped out of bed and not really in the mood to have something to eat, I just made sure I had everything I needed for this short trip and about an hour later I arrived at the train station. Although It was still very early in the morning, I was more than glad to see my best buddy and fellow travel addict Tania again.

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The two of us chatted away about the usual things and while Tania enjoyed her cup of Starbucks coffee, I had a small servings of a vegan berry bircher, which tasted delicious and together with a small cup of Chai latte it was all I needed to get that travel vibe again.

We didn't have to wait all that long for our train to arrive and although I don't have the best of memories traveling to the Netherlands using public transport, for once it arrived on time and we had no hassle at all and needless to say we arrived at the capital of the Netherlands about 2 hours later. It was still early for most humans, but we were quite awake and while we searched for our lodging for the night, we had so much fun looking at the daily hassle of all the people we passed.

It didn't took us too long to find our hotel Die Port Van Cleve, since Tania visited the place a few times in the past for her work. Today we were going to stay 1 night in this 4 star luxury hotel because of the 150th anniversary of the hotel. A few months ago, Tania was invited to stay overnight for free while enjoying a celebration dinner later this evening and of course she couldn't decline such an offer and I was the lucky one to join her.

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Checking in to our room was not possible because of the early hour, so we just dropped off our stuff and went into the city. It felt such a bliss being abroad again. I travelled to Amsterdam a few times already and it always feels good coming to this city. Instant happiness comes to mind and no, it is not the herbal thingy talking.

Since it has been a long time, we first went to the main shopping street, De Kalverstraat where we spent most of our time. What can I say, we are just girls who want to have a bit of fun while doing some shopping. Something we have missed for the past year unless it was online behind a computer. I am so thankful that is over and done with. For the love of God I don't understand what people find so interesting about it, besides the fact that it makes you even more lazy. I am more the person who wants to see and hold things, maybe that is way I hated it so much and for that alone I am thankful that we can go into shops again.

Around lunch we ended up at "de grachten" or the canals where we had the most infamous dish of the Netherlands, a "broodje kroket". Now this is holiday for sure! Together with the sun shining on your back, it felt like a summer day although it already was September.

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It must have been around 3ish in the afternoon when we arrived back into the hotel and checked into our room where we dropped of our luggage and had a change of footwear since it was becoming really hot in the afternoon. Taking things slow, we walked back to the vicinity of the train station and had a drink at a terrace of one of the many local pubs and for some reason it felt like being on holiday. We were only gone for just a couple of hours, but still it was so relax and after all we have gone through the past year, we finally felt a bit normal and dare I even say ... "human" again.

We arrived back at our hotel around 6 PM and although already a bit woozy, we managed to change into a more festive attire and moments later we were more than ready to celebrate the 150th anniversary of this beautiful hotel.

Needless to say, we were waited on hand and foot and after a delicious aperitif, we were escorted to our designated table for our 5-course menu with adapted wines. A few hours later, we had seen enough food as well as booze coz we couldn't even walk straight to our room, but hey, we had more than enough fun trying to.

05/09/2021 a bit of sightseeing

Although quite drunk, I surprisingly enough had a good nights rest! We didn't set our alarm clock because we just wanted to sleep in, but somehow we woke up around 8AM. I must admit I felt a bit more human again after a long hot shower and I have to say that breakfast helped as well.

Since we agreed to take a train back home later this afternoon, we packed our stuff, handed them over to the reception as we checked out and headed for the Anna Frank museum.

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Tania wanted to have a look and since I found this a more than interesting museum, I wanted to have a go at it as well, but as we arrived, we stupidly forgot to book a reservation. The one thing I hate about COVID (besides the other obvious reasons) is the fact that you cannot plan something spontaneous anymore. For me this has always been very important while traveling and even when you traveling in group with an organization there is always room to plan things spontaneously and sadly enough this pandemic has ruined all that!

I must admit that I have a hard time dealing with this fact. It might seem stupid for some people, but not able to do things spontaneous anymore, takes the fun out of traveling a bit.

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The sun wash shining, we were in Amsterdam and we couldn't hold a grudge forever, so instead of visiting a museum, we did the next best thing and had a walk next to the more than many canals that enriches the city. We ended up at the Jordaan, a neighborhood infamous for the Dutch folk singer André Hazes, who still till this day is very popular in the country although he died in 2004.

Since we were in the vicinity and we started to feel hungry again, we found ourselves a nice place in the sun to enjoy lunch and afterwards we slowly walked back to our hotel passing some more interesting neighborhoods.

Around 3 PM we ended up in the train station again and once again I was surprised to notice that our train was on schedule and just like yesterday we didn't had any troubles en route so just as we planned, we arrived in Antwerp around 5 PM where we met up with Sander, Tania's boyfriend. It was but a short hello and goodbye to both of them as I needed to catch my train home again and although it was but a short trip, I really enjoyed our girls weekend out and about and I can't wait for the next one the come along!

Posted by Ils1976 10:54 Archived in Netherlands Tagged buildings people hotel shopping city friends holiday sun sightseeing wine capital relaxing festivities tipsy Comments (8)

Deventer

soaking up the Christmas atmosphere at the Charles Dickens Festival


View Deventer - 2017 on Ils1976's travel map.

Deventer is a seemingly normal city in the Netherlands, but once a year for one weekend long it is transformed into something special. During the winter months the Lower Countries such as Belgium and also The Netherlands, are under the spell of that one phenomenon we simply call “Christmas”.

I must admit that I guess this is a “global” problem once the month December has arrived, but the inhabitants of Deventer make sure this period in time is even more special and that it doesn’t go by unnoticed!

Once a year, the weekend before Christmas, the city or to be more precise a few streets in the centre of the city are transformed into the era of the 19th Century and people get a glimpse of the magical world of the writer Charles Dickens! 

Ever since I was a child I was hooked on his stories of Oliver Twist and even growing up, The Pickwick Papers were interesting as well, but the story I liked the most was “A Christmas Carol” and I guess till this day this is one of my favourite books coz after all, don’t we all know an Ebenezer Scrooge who in the end isn’t all that bad, or even a tiny Tim in this case!

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A few years back, working in a bus company, I started getting familiar with this event but because most of the time I was on holiday, there was never a chance to visit it, that is till now!

Me and my best friend Tania couldn’t go on a long trip because of work and as soon as I got back at the end of November I started looking for a trip to Deventer.

Looking for various booking sites I soon figured out that spending a night into the city was out of the question, so instead I wanted to drive by car for just one day. When the day came closer and closer, I heard left and right from a few drivers in our company that even finding parking space was near to impossible, just thinking that they were pulling my leg, I called the tourist office in Deventer myself and they advised me the cheapest and easiest way was to go on a day trip with a coach company … yeah right!

I immediately thought they had some kind of joint profit going on but since my mum was joining me, she thought that this was maybe the best option, after all, spending some time on the Christmas market it was also possible to drink some hot mulled wine (which I love!) and I didn’t had to drive the long way back late in the evening.

In search for some tour companies coz we don’t do that kind of stuff in our own office, I soon found one close to my hometown for the ridiculous fare of 20 euro per person. Yep, that was indeed a good price coz I guess parking fees are rocketing sky high on such days and I immediately bought myself 2 tickets while counting the days.

When the day arrived, it was early in the morning and I soon figured out that the 2 of us were not alone, together with about 60 other persons we drove off to our neighboring country only to arrive in Deventer at 9 o’clock in the morning and boy, were we lucky to be so early.

Although there was already a waiting line to enter the streets, after half an hour of waiting we could enjoy the Christmas spirit ourselves and really, if you like this time of the year, than you should really visit it once in your lifetime. It was so fun to see all the people in the town get dressed up in those old cloths interacting with the people (read tourists) and there was also the opportunity to see a little of the city, try some delicious food of the region and also get into the vibe of Charles Dickens.

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After seeing about a dozen Olivers and tiny Tims all looking so adorable, we still got a smile on our face and before we knew it, it was already time to go home again. Mind you, maybe that was not such a bad thing coz the hot mulled wine was getting to me, lucky it was a cold day, so I had a good enough excuse to drink it.

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By the time it was 8 PM we returned back to our meeting place only to find a gigantic mayhem. During the day it got busier and busier, there was no doubt about that, but when thousands of people want to go home at the same time, that is just looking for disaster.

When we finally caught up with our driver and the rest of the group was counted for, it was almost 9 PM. Driving home was not such a bad thing, but when the both of us were finally home it was already way after 11 PM.

 I must admit that I had a more than fun time in the city and I loved every minute of it, but yep, there was chaos as well … I guess popularity also has it’s disadvantages, but really … the people of Deventer will always have a special place in my heart!

Merry Christmas everyone!!!!

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Posted by Ils1976 09:58 Archived in Netherlands Tagged children food winter history bus adventure walk sights drinks cold festivities tipsy Comments (1)

Amsterdam

attending a TB meetup can be quite a challenge!

5 AM in the morning and especially on a Saturday morning sounds ridiculously early, but for one time I didn’t mind all that much coz I was just too excited to meet up with Nolan, his wife and some other TB’s in Amsterdam.

Since I didn’t feel like driving all the way up towards the Netherlands, I just opted for the easy way out and bought myself a train ticket, after all, once I reached Antwerp, it was a good 2 hours train ride towards Amsterdam and since weather forecasts predicted some snow, I knew that driving on the road would be a disaster. At least when taking the train, I would reach the Dutch capital a lot quicker or so I thought!!!!

Reaching Antwerp was no problem at all, but once I arrived at the train station, I had to wait for more than half an hour to catch my direct international train to Amsterdam. This should have been easy, but while I was carefree sipping from my Starbucks coffee, suddenly I got the announcement that all international trains were cancelled due to heavy snowfall !!!

What the heck … here I was, a little after 6 AM in the morning standing outside in the cold with my cup of coffee looking for some snow? It seemed that our neighbors in the Netherlands got all the “luck", coz here in Belgium it was just freezing cold but that’s about it.

Just like all the other stranded passengers, I went to look for someone who could give me some more answers, but that’s Belgium for you, if something happens, they just turn their heads and nod that everything will be fine … just wait and be patient!!!

After being patient and waiting already more than an hour, a train suddenly arrived who could take us no further than Rotterdam. It seemed that all the trains towards Amsterdam were cancelled but there was a possibility to take a bus from Rotterdam to Amsterdam. Okay, since I still wanted to make it to the meet-up, I went for it and jumped on the cozy and warm feeling train … Amsterdam here I come!

Or so I thought!?!

As soon as we reached the border between Belgium and the Netherlands, it started to snow and while I was looking at all that beauty falling from the sky, a few minutes later at the train station of Roosendaal we had another stop. According to the Dutch train staff, a freight train got derailed and they didn’t know how long we had to wait … what was going on here ????

It seemed for one reason or another this was going to be a train ride from hell and more than once I asked myself, should I continue or not???

After waiting about half an hour, the conductor gave us all a chance to turn back to Belgium with a local bus, but being the stubborn person that I am ???, I just ignored it and put on some great music hoping that we could move on as soon as possible and indeed, 15 minutes later the train started to move again!

Halleluja … Praise the Lord!!!

From then on it was smooth sailing or should I say riding all the way towards Rotterdam and although I expected loads of people being stranded on the train station, nothing prepared me for the chaos I was about to see.

People were running from one platform to another, kids were screaming, people shouted from one platform to another that there was no room anymore, train staff were handing out warm drinks and helped people where ever they could and for a split second I was thinking of giving up … no way, I was ever going to reach Amsterdam, when all of a sudden someone told me to take a train to Leiden. They couldn’t tell me if it was going or not, but as soon as I reached the platform, miraculously the train arrived and instead of taking a hot cup of coffee from the train staff, I grabbed my bags and jumped on the train together with loads of other people, after all, it wasn’t Amsterdam, but as far as my geography goes, it still is one step closer towards Amsterdam!

Arriving in Leiden, I just saw the same chaos as I did in Rotterdam but for some reason people got their hopes back coz things started to clear up in the sky and as soon as I saw that sign with Amsterdam and the train following a few minutes later, I was the happiest person on earth … it seemed I was going to make it after all!

During my trip from hell, I tried to contact Keiko a few times, but failed to reach her … Ineke on the other hand, was able to reach me, but because of the heavy snowfall in her city, she wasn’t able to join the meet-up. Such a pity, but I am sure that we both meet up again one day or another!

As soon as I stepped outside the train station of Amsterdam, I tried to reach Keiko again and this time I was in luck. It turned out that she was in the same train like me and after waiting a few minutes I could finally give my first hug to a TB friend. It felt so good to see her smiley face after all the troubles of the past few hours and since loads of TB’s cancelled, the two of us walked to my hotel where I could drop off my luggage, when all of a sudden Keiko got a phone call from Mikiko saying that she was waiting for her at the train station.

We agreed to split up and while Keiko went back to the train station, I walked all the way up towards Nolan’s hotel and met up with him, his wife and Vickie. It seemed that we were going to be with only a handful of TB’s but hey … at least the meet up could go through and as soon as we were all together, we had a lovely chat and walked up towards our lunch thingy, which was held in De Waag.

It really was nice meeting up with all those new and friendly faces and thanks to Tineke and Huib, who showed up a bit later, we had a lovely afternoon while they, together with Keiko guided us through many of the most important sights of the city.

Keiko also arranged for us to have a small explanation on how a diamant is cut in a small jewelry store and while we had another stroll towards our evening venue, as soon as we entered the place, it was nice to catch up with Eef as well.

Although the day started not in the best of ways, the evening ended with a blast! After dinner we decided to have a few drinks in a Cuban bar, but like me, most of the other TB’s had an early start, and as it turned out to be a little after midnight, we decided to call it a night. Together with the long but interesting day and a bit of alcohol in our system, we were pretty tired.

In groups we said goodbye to each other, it was truly a remarkable day of which I am sure I am never going to forget and I can only hope I can meet up with everybody again one day or another in the future to come!

Thanks Keiko, Nolan, “Wifey”, Vickie, Mikiko, Tineke, Huib, Eef, Anna-Isabel and Marco for an incredible and more than interesting day!
Hope to see you guys soon!

Posted by Ils1976 06:45 Archived in Netherlands Tagged snow trains food adventure friends fun sightseeing sights europe drinks cold Comments (2)

Drenthe

TB meetup organized by Patricia to get to know the region a little bit more!


View TravBuddy weekend in Drenthe - 2012 on Ils1976's travel map.

20/07/12 roadtrip

I must say that I was really looking forward to this trip for days now, but unfortunately I couldn’t get a day off from work, neither did Tania, so we couldn’t leave for Drenthe until way after 5 PM.

From work I drove to Schelle, where Tania’s mum prepared a delicious meal, she spoiled us even with dessert. She really is the best!

When we checked to make sure we had everything, our road trip was a fact and as soon as my gps started speaking, we could hit the road.

Although we had a long drive ahead of us, about 3 - 3.5 hours to be precise, I must say that time flew by very quickly, maybe that’s because we did nothing else but chatting and dreaming about our trip of the year to the land of Oz. Before we knew it, we were already in Drenthe.

We arrived at the Hondelhoeve, our home for the next 2 days, just before dark which was great. We didn’t saw our fellow TB friends, so we decided to give Patricia a call and it turned out that even Jos and Petra were at her home. Within a few minutes they arrived on foot at the Hondelhoeve and we all could say hi!

Patricia made us feel right at home. She already did some shopping in the morning and while we were putting our bags in the bungalow next to the one of Jos and Petra, she organised some snacks and drinks for all of us.

We started chatting about everything and a little after midnight Patricia had to go home and the 4 of us also called it a night. After all, I guess it has been a long day for everyone.

21/07/12 searching for dolmens

I woke up early in the morning because of the sun shining through the window and I wasn’t the only one, even Tania was quite awake.

Because it was just too early to get dressed we tried to close our eyes for the second time around and soon enough it was time to take a shower and get dressed cuz we had breakfast at our neighbours bungalow at about 9 AM.

Even Patricia had arrived for breakfast, she brought lots of things the day before and together with the eggs Petra boiled for us, we had more than enough things to start the day.

After the washing up, Patricia had to go home for a few minutes, so the 4 of us explored the neighbourhood some more. Jos and Petra already visited one of the dolmens in de region and because it was a novelty for me and Tania we decided to walk to the nearest one, situated down the road of the Hondelhoeve.

Going back to our bungalow we met up with Patricia again and we all decided to go and see the largest dolmen in the area. Jos was kind enough to drive us four women all the way to Borger (and back of course), where the "hunebedcentrum" (dolmen museum) was located.

Just outside the parking area we could see the rocks lying all over the place, this time it were just small ones, but it looked just like a garden of rocks, quite interesting to say the least.

Inside the museum we first saw a movie explaining were the rocks came from, it was interesting but sadly enough the sound was very loud and not only to us, because in the front row there was one family with lots of small children who were so scared, the youngest one did nothing else but screaming and crying. To me very understandable, it shows it’s not suitable for everyone! Sound wise that is.

From here it was straight to the museum where we had a complete explanation of the dolmens, where they came from and more precise, what was the use of these rocks. For me is was quite interesting to see! And like every museum it also has a small souvenir/gift shop where you can buy rocks and other goodies.

Now that we knew where the rocks came from, it was time to go and see the largest one there is! And I must say, you won’t get disappointed. That thing is huge, so big in fact I couldn’t photograph it in one time … but that can also mean that it is time to buy another camera.

When we all had enough of staring at the dolmen, we decided to go and have ourselves a bite to eat and we all found something to our liking in the food section of the museum.

Once back at the “Hondelhoeve”, we had a few drinks and chatted some more till Patricia’s family arrived for dinner which she had organised in the buffet restaurant De Schaopwas.

In the early evening we walked towards the restaurant and I must admit it was a nice walk. Me and Petra were far behind the others because we wanted to soak in as much as possible, that and taking pictures of course!

The restaurant itself was nice and I like to fact that they have an area for kids where they can hangout while the “grownups” have dinner, because I can understand that it can be very frustrating for kids to sit for such a long time on the same place. Nice!

The food wasn’t all that bad either. There were so many choices, that it was just impossible to try it all … after all … you need some room for dessert! (Thumbs up Patricia, you made a great choice!)

After dinner we sat a while on the terrace of the restaurant, enjoying the last rays of sunshine and when it started to get dark and colder, we all went back to our bungalows and home because it was also bedtime for the girls.

Back in Jos and Petra’s bungalow, we relaxed on the sofa (read : Ils relaxed on the sofa)  and while Patricia provided drinks and nibbles we chatted some more about many things, all in all a great ending of the day.

22/07/12 Kamp Westerbork

Another early morning with sunshine, me like this very much! After getting showered and dressed, Tania and I made sure we put everything back in our bags because today was also sadly enough our last.

Once again we had breakfast in Jos and Petra’s bungalow and while we waited for Patricia to arrive, we all enjoyed the sun a bit on our small terrace.

After breakfast we said goodbye to Jos. He had other commitments and wasn’t going to join us women today. The three of us packed our stuff into our cars, even Petra was going home this afternoon.

We followed Patricia to her home because Reagan was going with us to Kamp Westerbork.

While Patricia made sure she was ready, Riekus showed us a book with the history of the town, as well as pictures of his relatives and fellow townsmen. It is amazing how much he knows about the history and architecture of the region. Quite impressive!

When everyone was ready, Patricia lead us to Kamp Westerbork, which is situated in Hooghalen and I am glad she was driving first, because it turned out to be quite a scenic drive between the woods.

It is almost noon when we arrive at the museum. In order to get closer to the grounds, we need to take a bus, which we notice upon our arrival and since we don't have time to spare, all 4 of us hurry to the ticket booths. When everyone has his entry tickets, we make a run for it and luckily we still can catch it in time.

Although it is a short drive, you can also walk from the museum to the campgrounds, something we learned later on.

When we arrive at Kamp Westerbork, I am amazed of how little is left. All the barracks are gone, the only house left is at the entrance and belonged to the “camp commander”.

The guided tour begins at the entrance of the camp. Westerbork wasn’t a concentration camp, it was a transit camp. From here hundred thousands of people were transported to concentration and extermination camps in Germany, Poland and Russia. Sadly enough, not many of the people leaving this place survived.

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Our guide, which is a survivor, mainly tells about daily life, the daily struggles and the survival of each day, inside the camp and although there’s not much left, you don’t need too much imagination to figure out how things were in those days.

After visiting the campgrounds, we head back to the museum with the bus, where we have lunch and afterwards we also visited the small museum which gives you a better picture of the people who lived inside the camp and what they went through. It makes you go quiet for a while, that’s for sure!

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A bit shook up of what we just went through, we say our goodbyes and we all head to our homes.

I don’t know about the others, but I had a great time, so the only thing for me to say is : THANKS Patricia, job well done for letting us feel right at home and for organizing this wonderful weekend.

Posted by Ils1976 21:51 Archived in Netherlands Tagged landscapes home road_trip monument culture history walk friends stones road sightseeing sights europe war wwii survival Comments (3)

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