2020 was due to be our 10th consecutive trip to The Netherlands. Unfortunately, world events and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has put a stop to that. Rather than dwell on what might have been, I thought I’d take the opportunity to look back at our previous trips to The Netherlands.
In 2014, we returned to The Netherlands twice, in May/June and August. We’d been to Duinrell the previous two years in 2012 and 2013 and loved it, so we knew we wanted to return. For the first of the two trips of 2014, we were back at Duinrell for a week, though this time later in the month than in 2013, arriving on the 31st. As with the previous two years, we took the tunnel over to France, then drove up through Belgium to get to The Netherlands.
Things got off to a bad start after arriving at Duinrell. On the first evening there, someone decided to kick the wing mirror off our car, which was parked in the car park next to the Plaza. The Duinrell staff and security were pretty useless, though the Alfresco reps were much better, helping us find somewhere to get the car fixed. This left us without a car for the best part of the week, though being as it’s The Netherlands, that wasn’t really an issue.
I’d not given it much thought before, but left and right hand drive cars have different mirrors on each side (one concave, one convex), so it makes it a little more difficult to source the right parts if you’re driving a British right hand drive car in left hand drive Europe.
As with our previous trips to Duinrell, we broke the week up with days on-site at the fairground, swimming pool and in Wassenaar, days at the beach when the weather was good and some days further afield, visiting other towns and cities.
At this stage, the kids were still pretty young and there was only a limited amount of rides they could go on at Duinrell. There was still plenty to keep them occupied and they could literally spend hours going round on the go-karts.
During our stay we met another family with kids of a similar age, who were staying in a nearby cabin. We’d end returning to Duinrell with them a few times in subsequent years, plus with other families. So clearly, it’s not just us who keep returning to Duinrell!
As I mentioned, this wasn’t our only trip to The Netherlands in 2014. We ended up returning again in August on a camping trip, which included a very brief visit to Duinrell. More to come on that in the next post.
After being impressed with the beach at Wassenaarse Slag in 2013, we decided to return there a couple of times during our stay, making the most of the sunny days. The beach is just 3.4km away from Duinrell, so it’s perfect for a leisurely cycle through the dunes. You can see more of the route in these two posts from 2017 and 2018.
As you can imagine, the kids loved being at the seaside, whiling away many hours there. We also loved the ride there and back, with our youngest using the opportunity to catch up on some sleep! The path to Wassenaarse Slag had been resurfaced since our 2013 trip and was super smooth, which just made the ride there even better.
After the kids had so much fun during our first visit in 2012, we decided to return to Madurodam. On this occasion, it was a bit of a rainy day, though that didn’t really impact our enjoyment.
This wouldn’t be the last time we’d visit Madurodam. We’ve ended up going there a few more times, taking various friends and family with us, like in 2018. Last year though, I made my excuses and went to Delft, while everyone else spent the day at Madurodam. I think maybe I’ve seen it enough now!
We took the opportunity to visit some new places during our 2013 trip, starting with Gouda. It’s not a place we knew much about prior to going there, though obviously, we’re familiar with the cheese that takes its name from the city.
Gouda is a small city, with a population of around 70,000 and is famous for Gouda cheese, stroopwafels and a few other things. The city’s origins can be traced back to the 13th century, when it received its city rights.
If you’ve been to other Dutch cities, you’ll notice Gouda has a familiar feel, with its attractive old buildings, quiet traffic-free streets and canals. Though the original city walls disappeared a long time ago and canals and moats have been filled in.
I can’t remember how we got there now, but it’s possible we drove there once the car was fixed. We arrived in time to catch the cheese market before it finished, which is there every Thursday. Fortunately, this was just before the heavy showers arrived.
While we were wandering, we happened to find The Chocolate Factory (Chocoladefabriek). As you can probably guess, this building was once a chocolate factory, but now houses Gouda’s City Library, the Central Holland Regional Archive, as well as a print shop and a rather nice café.
We spent a while in The Chocolate Factory, enjoying both the library and café. It was a really nice place to visit in an interesting setting. My partner is an academic librarian, so we’ve visited one or two libraries on our travels!
We had a very enjoyable time wandering and taking in the sights in Gouda. We haven’t been back there since that visit, though I’m thinking it’s somewhere we should return to. I’m sure there’s much more to see than we managed during that one day trip.
On our last day of the trip, we took the opportunity to stop off in Delft on the way back to the UK. This was our first time there, and like with Gouda, we didn’t know a lot about the place other than the pottery that takes its name from the city. We had a car full of stuff and not a huge amount of time, so it was really just a brief visit to have a wander and grab something to eat.
We returned to Delft again in 2015, when we were staying in The Hague, getting the tram there. For some reason, I didn’t write a post about that trip. I also returned in 2019, when I cycled there from Duinrell, via Madurodam. That last visit, I got to experience some of the great work the city has done for cycling and the lovely cycle route along the canal, you can read all about that in this post.
Delft is somewhere we definitely want to see more of. Last year, I said maybe in 2020, though maybe we’ll return for a longer visit in 2021.