Impressive fortress defends itself against virus!

Exploring castles is always a favourite activity when we are travelling in Europe and our visit to Slot Loevestein, a medieval castle in the Gelderland region of the Netherlands, was no exception.

Exploring castles is always a favourite activity

We had hoped to use one of the free camper van spots in the castle car park – the location was beautiful with horses grazing nearby and lots of walking tracks.

There were some beautiful horses near the camping spot

Unfortunately, the four spots were already taken and as there was a hefty fine for parking illegally we decided to head for a local campsite just a short distance away in a town called Woudrichem.

The floodgates at Woudrichem

When we finally found the site (roadworks sent us on a diversion and we ended up lost at first!) the nice guy who ran it told us that they had closed for the season that day. However, he said that we could park outside the gates and that no one would move us on.

Looking back at our camping spot

That evening we were delighted to find we had parked just along from a small harbour filled with beautiful sailing barges modelled on the working boats that once plied the nearby rivers.

This view of sailing barges in the lovely evening light reminded us of a piece of Dutch art!

What a lovely place we had inadvertently found ourselves.

There were people living aboard these beautiful vessels
A cannon guards the small port at Woudrichem
Another typically Dutch scene

As we walked along the grassy medieval ramparts that ring the charming ancient village of Woudrichem, we came across some delightful sculptures depicting characters from the town’s history.

The grassy ramparts where sheep graze despite the steep slopes
The leaves were starting to turn in Woudrichem
There were several of these sculptures depicting the history of Woudrichem
A very elegant lady from medieval times
One of important historical figures of Woudrichem
Another of the delightful sculptures

We sat by the river and watched the massive barges loaded down with containers chug slowly by. There were rain clouds in the sky but the sun was shining and soon we saw a beautiful rainbow.

There were a surprising amount of barges loaded full of containers travelling up and down the river
I took so many shots of the rainbow but I like this one the best as it was shows where the treasure was buried!

We felt like we were sitting in the middle of one of those typical old Dutch paintings, with a windmill on one side, sailing barges on the other and a brooding light in the leaden sky. Fabulous!

A windmill, the brooding light in a leaden sky and Jonathan looking at the boats
Night is beginning to fall
Loved these outsized lanterns on the river wall

The next day we wandered around the old town, admiring the 17th century houses and the cobbled streets.

The gateway to Woudrichem
The 17th century houses were wonderful
Such graceful homes
We loved the roof lines
These brick cobbles were such gorgeous colours
A very cute historic building

We came upon a fabulous but small museum that displayed exhibits connected to the life of the river – fishing equipment, model boats and old photographs.

The museum was small but full of interesting objects
Fish traps
Many types of string and ropes

In the afternoon we drove back to have a look at Slot Loevesteen built where the Meuse and Waal rivers converge.

The moated castle- Slot Loevestein

This 14th-century moated castle was originally built as a place from which the knight Diederic Loef of Horne could levy tolls from trading vessels using the rivers. Later it was expanded to become a fortress surrounded by earthen fortifications with stone bastions and two moats.

The draw bridge still worked but fortunately Jonathan couldn’t quite reach the handle!

There was an interesting museum in what we imagined had once been the barracks and afterwards we could wander through the castle itself, starting in the dungeons and up winding staircases into various bedrooms, a chapel, reception rooms, kitchens and a massive dining hall.

The old school room
Shoes from a number of different eras found in the moat
We could wander through the castle
There were lots of stairs to climb
The banqueting hall
View from the drawbridge

There didn’t seem to be too many visitors that day and we were impressed by the way the management organised a route and staggered the numbers – allowing only one family into a particular area at a time and leaving hand sanitizer in strategic locations.

What a fabulous door
One of the bedrooms

It was amazing to think that when it was built, no one could have anticipated this great big impressive fortress would one day be taking action to defend itself against a microscopic virus as opposed to human invaders!

The portcullis to this impressive 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.

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