Breaking free from quarantine in sunny Netherlands

It was such a relief to be safely in The Netherlands in plenty of time for our daughter’s wedding to her Dutch partner. With COVID cases threatening to increase rapidly as the cooler weather hit, we were worried that we might get stuck in Turkey and end up missing the forthcoming celebrations.

What a wonderful reunion

Our daughter and partner were there to meet us from Amsterdam airport in our camper van. What a wonderful reunion it was!

They had come to pick us up straight from a two-week holiday travelling through France and Brittany in the van so were full of great travel stories as we drove to their home in Pijnacker near Delft. This was where we were to self isolate for the next ten days.

This sunflower in our daughter and partner’s front garden was obviously enjoying the warm weather!
The flowers were huge!

Although “confined to barracks” most of the time we managed to take walks around the neighborhood every day and to enjoy some lovely sunshine in the garden – although after the intense heat of Turkey it felt quite cool to us!

We enjoyed some lovely sunshine in the back garden during quarantine
We were able to take walks around the neighborhood every day
The canals in Pijnacker are very pretty
There’s always something beautiful to see
Who would believe this was just a few minutes from home
It was sunny but felt very cool after the intense heat of Turkey
Our garden companion
Another garden beauty

The weekend after we completed our quarantine period the weather was glorious so we decided to drive to a beautiful lake called Maarsseveense plassen (in the province of Utrecht) for a picnic and a walk round the lake’s perimeter.

Out of quarantine hurray!

The sun was really bright, the temperature perfect and it felt so good to be out and about.

It felt so good to be out and about
Enjoying the view of the lake
A relaxed Sunday breakfast

A day later we cycled to the gorgeous historical town of Delft where the wedding was to take place.

The historical town hall in beautiful Delft

It was very exciting to think that very soon the wedding would be taking place in the centuries old (the part facing the square was built in 1618 but the bell tower behind originated from 1300) and very majestic town hall.

Looking out from the town hall on to the normally busy square and the Nieuwe Kerk
These beauties were in the town square
Visiting family to celebrate the birth of the latest little one. Eating a rusk with aniseed-flavoured sprinkles is traditional

After such a wonderful weekend we felt inspired to take the camper van for a short trip so a couple of days later we were heading towards the De Hoge Veluwe National Park, one of the largest nature reserves in the Netherlands. Of course by then it was pouring with rain!

It was pouring with rain as we set off on our trip

The drive was less than two hours (everywhere is so close in the Netherlands compared to Australia) so we were soon happily tucked up in a camper van park in Otterlo, a small village near one of the National Park entrances.

Tucked up in our camping spot in Otterlo

The following day dawned dry and reasonably warm so after breakfast we hopped on our electric bikes and pedalled to the National Park.

A different view of sunflowers by Van Gogh

We were booked in to visit the fabulous Kröller-Müller art museum – now a national museum but originally a private art collection – which we were introduced to by our friends from the Sail to Indonesia rally, Annemieke and Gerrit.

The postman by Van Gogh

We loved the museum on our first visit and had been very much looking forward to returning to soak up all the beautiful paintings, drawings and sculptures once again.

A beautiful painting of Van Gogh’s hospital grounds

As well as having the second-largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world (after the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam) there are works by many other famous artists including Picasso, Mondriaan, Gaugin, and Seurat.

More stunning paintings

Despite a strict booking schedule due to Covid, the gallery seemed to be quite full. Most people were mostly very good about social distancing but we were quite surprised to see so many visitors there on an autumn weekday.

The gallery seemed rather crowded considering Covid.
The floral displays were sensational

The highlight for us this time was the outdoor sculpture park – 25 hectares of beautiful woods, lawns and gardens, with a fine collection of modern sculpture spread throughout.

The highlight this time was the sculpture garden
We were enchanted as we strolled through the park

As we strolled through the gardens we were enchanted over and again by the amazing works – often found in secret corners of the park.

A mossy staircase leading to a secret corner of the park
Sculpture or mini amphitheatre ?

At one point we were in a beautiful wood when we began to hear some mysterious, ethereal, rather desolate sounds – reminiscent of ships at sea sounding their fog horns.

We began to hear some mysterious, ethereal, rather desolate sounds

As we got closer it sounded more like a school brass band with the participants playing random notes without a conductor!

We came to where the noises were emanating from – a magical circle of trees talking to one another via speakers in their branches. A haunting sound and one of the many interesting installations we saw that day!

A pavilion in the Sculpture Garden
There were some fantastic pieces in the pavilion
I was really moved by this one
I liked this one too
This was Jonathan’s favourite – by a Tasmanian artist
Such a restful pose – gazing off into the forest
A lawn dotted with sculptures
This one was by Rodin

Later we cycled for hours through the National Park – there are many tracks to choose from in the 55 square kilometres of parkland. The cycle paths took us through glorious woods, heathland and sand dunes.

We cycled for hours in the National Park

The following day we travelled to the Westerwolde region of The Netherlands on the border of Germany to a fascinating village called Bourtange.

Taken from outside the star fort

At the centre of this tiny hamlet is a Star Fort built in 1593 at the start of the Eighty Years War against the Spanish. This amazing construction defended the link between Groningen and Germany until its decommissioning in 1851.

It was fascinating to walk on the massive grassy fortification walls

The fort was restored in the 1960s and is still in wonderful condition.

Part of the network of canals and ponds that provided a barrier to any potential invaders

The star shape was constructed using an incredible network of canals and ponds that provided a barrier to any potential invaders.

Inside the fort we found this mill
There were some very ancient buildings within the fort

From above its beautiful star shape can be seen more clearly than at ground level but it was still fascinating to walk around on top of the grassy fortification walls and look out across the watery barriers.

The beautiful star shape can be seen best from above (photo credit Google)
There were plenty of cannons guarding the fort

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

4 thoughts on “Breaking free from quarantine in sunny Netherlands”

  1. How wonderful that you got back in time to do your quarantine and be out in time for the wedding!
    I love the look of that sculpture park and the star shaped fort – you seem to discover amazing places everywhere you go!

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  2. Seeing your reunion photo with Hannah for the second time, brought tears to my eyes and I can feel the relief of all those travelling and Covid tensions ebbing away…

    Also your blog enticed and inspired us to want to visit this fascinating area, including The National Park…a far cry from Amsterdam!

    We used to have a very similar style Sculpture Park in the hills and woods of the Sussex Downs, but sadly the Cass family (we went to Alfred Cass’s 90th birthday party a few years ago!-for which George supplied the fizz et al!-) became too old to run it and there were no successors. It’s just recently closed, but I’ve just checked and if you Google, Cass Sculpture Foundation, you can still see the photos of it.

    And finally, our best wishes (and Congratulations?-Wisely, I don’t think you’ve mentioned THE WEDDING DATE or I’ve missed seeing it!!!) to you all.

    Think you’re going to be having very happy and memorable times in Pinjaker and Delft!!! Enjoy!

    Much love and cyber hugs

    Sally&George xox

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    1. Aww Sally thank you! It would be amazing if you were able to make it over to see a bit more of The Netherlands one of these days – the country is really so much more than just Amsterdam and tulips! We were sad to hear that Alfred Cass’s sculpture park has closed- what a loss! The photos look fabulous! I’ve just posted a blog about the lead up to the wedding and the next one will be about the day itself! Watch this space. Hope all’s well with you and your family. Is Jack still in Rio? Xxx

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