Archive for September, 2017


I spent the first part of my holidays in the Netherlands in Drenthe, a province in the north of the country. As a child and teenager, I went there every summer, but I hadn’t really been back. I always loved it there and even secretly hoped we would move there :) so I was excited to finally go back! I spent three nights in Dwingeloo, at the lovely B&B Het Rustige Heuveltje. Dwingeloo is a small (and pretty) village, located close to three major nature areas: National Park Dwingelderveld, National Park Drents-Friese Wold and nature reserve Holtingerveld. Perfect!

I arrived early in the afternoon, and the weather was beautiful, so I cycled to National Park Dwingelderveld – a large moorland area. From the visitor centre, I did one of the loop walks (this one was 7 km). The first part went through the forest, and then you came out in the open moors, all flowering in purple… beautiful!

I walked on small paths like this, and enjoyed the warm sunshine :)

I met a flock of Drenthe Heath Sheep, which they say is the oldest sheep breed of the Western Europe continent. They’re very pretty.

Here is a larger part of the flock, with the purple heather in the background.

I continued my walk, and enjoyed the pretty clouds!

Later one, the walking path joined with a cycling path. Still it was a narrow path and I hardly met anyone. I sat on a bench by this lake for quite a while, reading a book…

Another very pretty cloud!

This was back at the visitor centre, where they have a pond and jetty so kids can play and catch insects in the pond. A really nice place!

Cycling back, I enjoyed the soft sunset colours from this bench…

I also visited the nearby birdwatching hide . I only saw geese from there, but it was a nice place.

Sunset view from the birdwatching hide…

The next morning, I decided to wake up really early to watch the sunrise. I hadn’t really prepared though, and wasn’t sure where to go. So I just cycled into the countryside until I found a good place to take some photos. I loved the huge pink arch in the sky!

It was a calm morning, and I had the countryside almost to myself :)

The fireweed growing next to the road was far past its peak, but still pretty…

Early morning Drenthe countryside :)

The sun peeking from between two trees on my way back to the B&B for breakfast.

After breakfast I decided to cycle to National Park Drents-Friese Wold. Already from the road leading into the park, the views were fantastic. A large open area with flowering heather and a couple of old oaks standing alone – so beautiful!

I went for a very long walk that day (15 km), with lots of pretty views – and again some very pretty clouds!

A large part of the walk went through the forest. Somehow I don’t take a lot of photos in the forest, I am more in my element in the open areas with big skies – perhaps that’s the meteorology geek in me? ;) So here’s one other photo I took during that walk, a very pretty mushroom on a tree…

The next day I visited nature reserve Holtingerveld. Here I cycled over really small paths through the forest, at times it felt more like a footpath than a bike path – luckily I didn’t meet a lot of people coming from the opposite direction :)

At some point the path was blocked by some Scottish Highland cattle. They are so pretty! They seem so exotic in the Dutch landscape, but they have been around for a long time. I’m always a bit scared of the ones with the really big horns…

This young one was pretty harmless though, he was lying down right next to the bike path and wasn’t bothered by me at all.

This baby was even cuter – and crazier! He/she seemed a bit in love with my bike, and licked it all over! The handlebars, the breaks, the pedals… at some point it even started licking my trousers but that made me take a step back :D

Funny little creature! A bit like a very big dog! :)

Although it was only August, there were some signs of autumn already, like these twin mushrooms next to the bike path:

I continued my bike ride to a large open area with heather.

This area is also famous for its hunebedden, or dolmen. Almost all of the dolmens in the Netherlands are in Drenthe. They are over 5000 year old , built with erratic boulders that were carried from Scandinavia by the large ice sheet during the ice age. When the ice retreated, the boulders were left behind. The dolmen were burial chambers, and used to be covered by soil. Here you can see a large one, in front of the flowering heather.

On my last day in Drenthe I went for a bike ride to Dwingelderveld with my parents. It was a beautiful day, we cycled over the open heather area…

And came across this group of cows standing around in the vibrant purple heather. So beautiful!

Especially this little baby… :)

More cows in the heather :)

At some point we saw a sign for the bike path that was voted “most beautiful bike path in Drenthe” – of course we had to try it! It was really beautiful indeed, but unfortunately also really busy as there was a cycling event going on which meant a constant stream of cyclists coming from the opposite direction. So I didn’t take that many photos, but we did stop at this pretty reflecting little lake along the way:

We also stopped at the visitor centre of the National Park, where we had a look around their flower garden, especially designed to attract bees and butterflies – looks like it’s working :)

I had a great time in Drenthe, and I’m sure I will be back soon!


As part of my holidays in the Netherlands, we rented this Natuurhuisje in Stegeren near Ommen (in the province Overijssel) for a long weekend. I really love the Natuurhuisje concept (in English they’re called Rural hut) – they offer holiday homes in the middle of nature. In this case, our little home was on a farm, and it was not always as quiet as we would have liked – but it was still beautiful. Sunset on our first evening there was spectacular…

There was this whole field FULL of dandelions (a flower with a special meaning to me) :)

The next day, Michiel stayed “home” to work on his thesis, and I went for a long bike ride. Here too, the heather was in flower and it was beautiful:

It was a hot day, and even the cows needed cooling off! This is the river Vecht near Ommen.

I really enjoyed the quiet countryside of this area. Here I stopped at a small bench and had lunch in the shade.

I crossed the river Vecht several times. This was from a higher viewpoint that looked over a bend in the river – so pretty!

The next day my parents were in the area, and I went cycling with them. Here we’re crossing a narrow draw bridge (just for cyclists!)

It was another warm and sunny day, with great views over the river.

Later on we stopped in an area called “De Sahara” – we laughed at the sign, but we were curious and had a look. I can see where it got its name from! Really pretty area, and popular with families with children.

This was in the evening on the small lane near our holiday home.

I fell in love with this little house (opposite our holiday home)… so cute!

The next day Michiel went back to work, and I drove to national park De Sallandse Heuvelrug and went for a long walk. Early on in the walk, I passed this beautiful home / tower De Sprengenberg (also called Palthetoren). It used to be the hunting and holiday home of a rich family. It looks like something out of a fairytale!

It was a beautiful walk, where I hardly met anyone all day.

Small paths through the heather…

I loved all the vibrant colors of purple and green!

And all the pretty old trees :)

I “climbed” to the highest point of the national park, which at 75 m high qualifies as a mountain in the Netherlands ;) the view over the hills with heather was beautiful, but it was the middle of a warm day, so it was hard to take good photos of the view.

What a nice weekend in Overijssel!I was really lucky with the weather during my holidays, and enjoyed exploring another corner of my new (old) home country :)

Wereldhavendagen (World Port Days) in Rotterdam

The first weekend of September the World Port Days were held in Rotterdam. There were LOTS of activities, and it was hard to choose what to do! On Saturday we took a guided tour of “De Rotterdam”, the really cool building with three towers next to the Erasmus bridge in the photo below.

De Rotterdam was designed by architect Rem Koolhaas, and it was built right in the financial crisis – this was possible because Rotterdam municipality was paying a large part, as they would use half of one of the towers as office space. The photo below looks up from between two of the towers.

There are several restaurants and a hotel housed in the building, lots of offices, plus one tower has residential spaces. It’s the largest building in the Netherlands!

The motto of the building is “vertical city” – I can see why! As part of the tour we went up to the 31st floor, to an empty office. The view took my breath away! I could hardly listen to our tour guide anymore, because I just had to keep looking at the view. The photo below shows the new Luxor theatre (bottom left), the floating forest and the floating pavilion (a pilot project for floating architecture, mainly used for conferences).

On the other side there was an amazing view over Noordereiland, an island in the middle of Rotterdam. Such a cool view!

And then of course, the view over the Erasmus Bridge and the Rotterdam city centre. Wow…. You can see lots of activity on the river below, which was part of the World Port Days.

On Sunday I had a friend visiting and we joined an excursion to ECT Delta Terminal – the European Container Terminal at Maasvlakte (an industrial area which was built as a manmade island). Rotterdam is the biggest port in Europe, and ECT is the biggest container operator in Europe, so everything was HUGE. Since it was Sunday, not much was happening though, but it was still impressive seeing trucks and cranes operating without drivers!

Especially for the World Port Days, ECT had made a demonstration area where you could visit cranes and drive in big trucks (well, sit next to an ECT driver). Unfortunately the queue for going on the big cranes was so long that we never made it – I’ll have to come back next year!

Here too there were lots of vehicles driving around by themselves – a bit creepy but cool!

We did go up a smaller crane, and had to wear orange safety gear and a helmet. Everyone says I should get a job in the port of Rotterdam because this looks good on me :D haha…

Back in Rotterdam, we had a look around all the ships moored in the city centre for World Port Days. Here’s a view across the river, with Hotel New York dwarfed between its big neighbours!

I wish I could have joined more excursions or guided tours – it was so much fun! I’m already looking forward to next year :)

Kinderdijk / Trip by Waterbus

Two weeks ago I cycled from Rotterdam to Dordrecht via Kinderdijk. This is a UNESCO heritage site with 19 windmills, and really popular with tourists. On Strava (a cycling app) some sections have names, and the cycle path that goes through Kinderdijk is called “Avoiding Tourists”, haha. I had never been there, so I stopped for some photos…

It was nice weather, with a typical Dutch sky full of puffy clouds :)

Panorama of Kinderdijk…

There’s a small ferry for foot passengers, you can buy tickets for that and for visiting the windmills, but if you just want to see the mills by bike or on foot, it’s free.

In Dordrecht I visited a museum, and then I took the waterbus back to Rotterdam. The trip takes an hour, costs less than 5 euros and bikes are free. Excellent! I really enjoyed the boat trip over the river :)

Especially the last bit when you go through the center of Rotterdam and see all it’s iconic architecture. Below the Unilever building, which was inspired by De Hef, which is the bridge in the foreground. De Hef was a vertical-lift bridge for trains, it’s not in use anymore but it was kept as a landmark. As a bonus, the Erasmus bridge can be seen behind De Hef.

Typical Rotterdam: old and new together in harmony. Old houses on Noordereiland (an island in the middle of the city), the Erasmus bridge (The Swan), and De Rotterdam towering over the old houses.

One last photo before I had to leave the Waterbus. These water taxi’s zoom up and down the river, this one is owned by Hotel New York.

A great day trip!