When our work took us to Amsterdam for a film festival (which we had entered and won, by the way – woo hoo!)
My husband and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity of being in Holland and take a couple of weeks to travel around The Netherlands. In that time – our first time exploring the country together – we fell in love with the place. And not just its capital.
When tourists think of Holland, they instantly think of Amsterdam, conjuring up images of weed cafes and legal prostitutes as far as the eye can see, with tulips, canals, trams or bicycles, but all still through the prism of The Dam (as the locals call it).
It does indeed go far beyond the tulips and canals and really is worth planning a trip to this amazing country – sooner rather than later.
Many of the places/attractions we visited are fun for both adults and kids alike. As the saying goes, The Netherlands is for ages 1-100, which was just as well as we were also travelling with our young toddler daughter Xena.
Public transport is a breeze in this country. Getting from city to city couldn’t be easier, and their trains are prompt and clean. We left Amsterdam and hopped on a train to The Hague. Even with four suitcases, a pram and a toddler, it was painless. We opted to stay by the beach, which was beautiful and highly recommend. Even in the warm summer months, it means lovely cool breezes at night. The weather was especially fitting for rolling up our jeans and wading around through the soft sand of the flat beaches that seemed to extend forever, creating mini ponds and ocean water puddles throughout.
There were restaurants along the beach, and the harbour, where you could go for fresh and fried fish and seafood. It reminded me of New England, with the same quality to the sand, the water and even the seagulls, but with far less congestion and pollution.
It was simple to get into the city center via bus and/or tram, and we headed in on most days, enjoying fantastic coffee. The third wave coffee movement is alive and well in The Hague. In fact, The Netherlands in general is one of the best countries in the world that I’ve visited with consistent quality coffee throughout.
We also explored the culinary scene, which was stellar. The food in this country is really great, and you will appreciate it even more if you are a foodie. Wherever we were, it was possible to find a good quality restaurant serving sustainable, fresh food. Even most conventional grocery stores offered a decent organic (bio) section, including meats. There were also a few fully organic supermarkets to be found, even in smaller cities.
The City of The Hague is gorgeous. There’s greenery all over, smooth roads with bike lanes and quiet trams weaving in and out of the architecturally impressive homes. In the center is the Hofvijver, a beautiful pond adjacent to the Binnenhof (government office) and the Mauritshuis (the museum that is home to “The Girl with the Pearl Earring”).
Not too far away is the Escher in Het Paleis, where you can see M.C. Escher’s original artwork while wandering through the magnificent palace that houses it. Sheepishly, I’ll admit that I had no idea Escher was Dutch! I am a fan, though, and it was really special to see original works of such famous paintings, especially after being exposed to prints of them on the wall of every college dorm I’ve ever been in (alongside Ansel Adams, Bob Marley and Albert Einstein posters).
A trip to Den Haag wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Madurodam, a miniature replica of the entire country. My young 2 year old daughter Xena loved it, but I think my husband and I enjoyed it more. The detail is insane and settled in amongst the miniatures happens to be some giant tulips, perfect for unforgettable photo ops. Do not miss. I have no idea why, and no one could quite explain it, but Dutch people love miniatures. As if one theme park made up of a small version of the country isn’t enough, there’s also Miniworld in Rotterdam! It’s not nearly as majestic as Madurodam, but still fun to see, if you’re in the area. Which we were!
In fact, Rotterdam was our next stop. We enjoyed this bustling, hip city. If The Hague is a classy, bourgeois Grand Dame (thanks to all the diplomats, expats and government officials living there), then Rotterdam is its art-school attending, aspiring musician, younger cousin. It’s very multi-cultural, with a lot of cool shops and artsy vibes. It also, like most places in The Netherlands, has great cuisine and top-notch coffee. Another plus is the Rotterdam Zoo, considered one of Europe’s finest (my favorite part was the Oceanium).
If you suddenly have the urge to head off for a break which you haven’t yet planned, why not have an ‘adventure’ which could be the holiday of a lifetime.
You may feel restricted by pets or children, but that should not be an excuse for something a little bit ‘outside the box’, even if in this country. Have an adventure, not just a holiday.
mohamed_hassan / Pixabay
So let’s start with kids and pets – how about hiring a Campervan and driving to some of the more rural parts of Scotland the Cornish coast, there are some exciting places to discover, – fabulous dog walks and brilliant kids activities and prevent them from being bored. You can also check into one of the child and pet friendly cottages across the country which are geared to give you everything you need for a family break.
peagreenbean / Pixabay
Check out Waterside Breaks www.watersidebreaks.co.uk – a family run business – and speak with one of their holiay gurus who will give you personal advice on where to go and what to do when you are there. They really do some excellent ‘bespoke’ packages, with no time spared in talking you through your options.
If you have teenagers and have trouble in keeping them entertained then consider a teenager friendly vacation in Croatia with Responsible Travel, www.responsibletravel.co.uk. This is the perfect Family multi activity holiday. Set on the Adriatic sea, sits the stunning Croatia. A hugely varied country with isolated islands, sweeping meadows, vineyards & crystal clear rivers.
Based along the Split Riviera, 30 minutes from Split Airport, you’ll have access to many wonderful pristine areas from gushing rivers & canyons to stunning beaches and old towns. Your adventure base has swimming pool, sun terrace, wifi throughout, rattan loungers and is minutes walk to the beach.
KatarzynaTyl / Pixabay
It’s the perfect family active holiday location, to enjoy a wide selection of land & water activities. Try: sea kayaking, white water rafting, cycling, easy panoramic walks, and canyoning! They are extremely good at age/gender matching – just ask the travel manager. They will always try to bring like minded families together.
Experience nature up close, both enjoying the tranquillity of the area and enjoying the rush of adventure activities.
If you like the idea of an authentic holiday experience, where each day offers exciting adventures, great Croatian cuisine and stunning scenery – then you’ve found your dream trip! Just read the reviews of returning guests.
If you want to go further afield, and really want to ‘travel adult only’, then why don’t you fulfil that lifelong ambition and go on one of the adventure holidays from www.exodus.co.uk.
We spotted a great one in Botswana, a country very close to the hearts of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle who reportedly fell in love in this romantic country. Check these out and see if it ticks any boxes for you.
Botswana is a vast, sparsely populated country, mostly desert but with the most prolific wetlands in Africa. Holidays in Botswana are thrilling, and it’s well worth the effort required to reach some of its more remote places. The reserves of Chobe, Savuti, the prolific Moremi and the unique Okavango Delta are sensational, both in the summer, for birds especially, and in the dry autumn, winter and spring months, for bigger game. It is the largest elephant corridor in the world and the herds along the Chobe River can number in their thousands. The Okavango is the biggest inland delta anywhere; paddling through its reed-lined channels in a Mokoro (dugout canoe), watching the pristine wilderness slip by, is a most memorable experience.
jeanvdmeulen / Pixabay
Or why not try a Tailormade Adventure?
They can tailor almost any holiday to suit you, perfect if you’d like to change the dates, itinerary, or simply want a private adventure with a group of friends, family or fellow enthusiasts. All Tailormade Adventures still get a local guide where appropriate and all the other Exodus benefits. So if you’d like to celebrate your birthday at the top of a mountain, or visit a particular beach, let them know your dates, and they will do the rest.
To find out more visit Exodus to arrange your ownTailormade Experience or call: 0203 733 4849
Glamping is definitely a trend that has grown incredibly in the past few years, so much so that even the rich and famous are heading out of town just to explore the countryside and instead of checking into exclusive hotels, are opting for a ‘five star’ experience in one of the great Glamping sites springing up all over the UK.
There is nothing better and more bonding for a couple or family, than sitting around a camp fire cooking and reminiscing, and in the absence of electricity, it is wonderful to switch off from the World and turn back the clock to those joyful pre internet days when communication was conversation.
One location I have tried and would recommend is Nethergong in Kent, which has been long established as a camping site, and now extremely well equipped with everything you would need for Glamping, if you wanted to stay in one of their Shepherds Huts, Bell Tents or Romany caravans.
Nethergong is a family run business who take care to ensure all of their guests have everything they need for a delightful Glamping experience.
They have a two-acre wood with tall, evenly-spaced poplar trees and grass underfoot. In addition to Glamping there are several grassed camping areas, including the First Field, the Fruit Trees, the Carp Lake and the New Duck Pond. Some areas can be let exclusively to groups of families dependent on availability and numbers. See their Map for more details.
One of our most popular areas is either side of our shallow Frog Pond, populated by many marsh and common frogs, toads, dragon flies and damselflies and the odd grass snake! The frog pond is suitable for pond dipping and paddling and nets can always be found in their shop (our best seller). Their one-acre Carp Lake can be fished by campers and is not open to the public. Every morning at 10am Jed, the owner, can be found with a throng of children feeding the carp which compete with the swans and the ducks for the food.
In the early 90’s Jed’s father planted 3000 English broad-leaved trees on our 26 acre piece of beautiful Kent countryside. Jed then dug out two lakes and more recently stocked the carp lake with thousands of carp for our campers enjoyment. Their oak, ash, willow, elm and beech trees are their pride and joy and at 25 years old are now coming to maturity.
The natural and unspoilt nature of Nethergong enables hundreds of wildlife species to thrive and live harmoniously with their temporary human guests. The wildlife includes:
Hundreds of frogs. The marsh frogs’ chorus (best heard from April to July) has to be heard to be believed
A resident swan family who have raised a brood for the past three years
Rare dragonflies and damselflies
Coots, moorhens and ducks of all varieties
Newts, lizards and bats
Rare visiting Turtle Doves
Cuckoos in spring
Nightingales singing at night
Owls – From the riverbank you can also see the Barn Owl nesting boxes across the far side of the field. They also have Little Owls and Tawny Owls
Marsh Harriers and Buzzards.
Glamping is ideal if you are travelling with kids and multi generations, some of whom may be in need more of their home comforts. This gives the family the outdoor experience, but will enable them to cook their favourite meals, if the tastes differ within a family. For instance, two members of my ‘tribe’ have special dietary requirements, whilst the others enjoy a good steak or burger. Mission accomplished and everyone catered for and the entire family happy and able to enjoy their holiday to the full.
April 1, 2023 1873 Sergei Rachmaninov 1874 Edgar Wallace 1931 George Baker 1932 Debbie Reynolds 1938 Ali MacGraw 1939 Rudolph Isley 1948 Ronnie Lane 1957 David Gower 1960 Michael Praed 1962 Phillip Schofield
Pin It on Pinterest