Archive for the ‘The Netherlands’ Category

Like a painting: windmills along the Rotte

It’s been very quiet on this blog! We recently got back from a month in Australia, so I have plenty of photos to share. However, we’ve been really busy, and I have another exciting trip coming up, so posts about Australia will have to wait a bit. In the meantime, I’d like to share some photos taken on a recent bike trip close to home. All the photos were taken within 1 hour, on a 10 km bike trip. I may be living in a big city, but it’s really not very difficult to get out of the city and see some beautiful scenery – even if you just have an hour to spare! :)

Within 10 minutes from home, I reach the edge of the city, and am greeted by this view from the shores of the river Rotte…

Continuing my trip, I reach the first windmill on my route. This is De Prinsenmolen (Mill of the Prince), built in 1648. The evening light was really pretty and the views looked like a painting…

The same mill seen from a little further along the route (looking back). The jetty is private, but I guess the ducks don’t care about that! Near the opposite shore you can see a rowing boat that comes from the nearby rowing club. Must have been a beautiful evening for being on the water!

I continue my trip to the second mill on my route: Molen de Vier Winden (Mill of the Four Winds). I usually cycle right underneath it and never had a very good view of it – nice to see it from the opposite side of the river!

The light was now becoming truly spectacular and I almost had to pinch myself that his was real. What an evening… A coot passed closeby, some rowing boats passed, the clouds reflected in the river…

I took a panorama because I wanted to include everything: the mill, the houses, the boat on the jetty, the church in the distance and the beautiful tree. I borrowed the jetty of a house that was being worked on. I thought the owner might not like me on his jetty (quite a few have “private” signs on them, although not this one), but he came out to ask if I had been able to get some good photos and that it was such a beautiful evening. How nice!

I continued a bit further, but the sunset was now becoming so spectacular that I didn’t get far. I took a panorama looking in the opposite direction as the one above…

And another photo of the sunset, with quite spectacular beams!

After that, I put my photo gear away and cycled the 5 km back to home. A mini trip like this can still be so rewarding!

Weekend Camping Trip to Texel

During the first weekend of August, we decided to visit the Dutch island Texel (one of my favorite places in the Netherlands! See here for example). And since we’re going camping in Australia this autumn, I thought it would be a good idea to test the tent and all other equipment at least once before flying to the other side of the world.

I normally prefer small campsites, but this time we went to a HUGE one called Kogerstrand, in De Koog. The reason I chose it, despite its size (and the rather high cost), is that it’s located right next to the beach in the dunes. Cars have to park at a parking lot, and tent spots are secluded spaces within the dunes. It was really nice! This was our little spot…

The great thing about this campsite is that we were literally 100 m from the beach. So when the sunset started to look rather nice, I grabbed my camera bag and went to the beach…

It was so beautiful, really a magical sunset. This little girl just ran in front of my camera while I was taking a photo and I love the result :)

The reflections in the sand almost looked like a painting…

The next day we rented bikes and we decided to cycle all around the island. Just outside De Koog we saw a lot of purple heather, so pretty! So we stopped for some photos…

Cars are allowed on Texel, but almost all tourists either bring their own bike or rent bikes. It makes for a really nice atmosphere I think, with lots of people cycling.

Panorama of the purple heather in the dunes…

We cycled to the north tip of the island, where the Eierland Lighthouse is located.

We walked the path up to the lighthouse…

You can see the huge beach on the left here.

I decided to climb the lighthouse for a better view. I had never done that before. It was so worth it! It was a beautiful day and the huge beach at the north tip of Texel looks really impressive from above.

We had lunch at the beach restaurant you can see on the far left in the photo above. That’s the ultimate holiday feeling for me: having a meal on the beach :)

The clouds were really pretty so I took lots of photos of the lighthouse with the clouds!

The lighthouse was built in 1863, but it suffered heavy damage during the Second World War. To repair the damages, they built another wall around the inner one.

Sorry, too many photos of the lighthouse ;)

We continued our bike trip, and started cycling south again. On Texel, it has become common to see Eurasian Spoonbills. They are such pretty bird and I still find them quite exotic!

Michiel checking out the spoonbill (lepelaar in Dutch)

Texel idylle: a bikepath, a bike, sheep and lots of flowers :)

We stopped for lunch in Oosterend, a really pretty village built around a church.

The church of Oosterend…

The harbour at Oudeschild…

The wind was strong that day, and we got really tired of cycling against the wind (especially me). Friends of Michiel were also staying on Texel with their children, so we met them at a beach restaurant and had a nice break in the sun.

In the evening we went for dinner at the beach restaurant next to our campsite. Some rain showers were passing and the sunset looked rather stormy…

During dinner I suddenly noticed beautiful light outside, so I excused myself and ran out with my camera. I couldn’t believe my luck: a sunset rainbow!

I managed to take a panorama of the rainbow over the row of beach huts :)

The light was really special that evening, it almost seemed unreal!

The beach restaurant where we had dinner…

The next day we decided to go for a walk in the southern part of Texel, quite close to the ferry that we were taking back to the mainland later that day. We walked through an area with lots of geese, and pretty lakes…

I loved the views and the clouds that day!

So many geese!

Here too we found purple flowering heather. A really pretty walk!

More geese, and pretty clouds :)

We stopped at another beach restaurant for lunch, and then walked back to the car through the dunes. One last photo of the pretty views….

We had a great time on Texel, and a successful testing of our camping equipment. It was fun to go just for the weekend, it really felt like a mini holiday :)

Drenthe

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!

Overijssel

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 :)