Due to rising numbers of Covid-19 cases, most of Europe has gone into a second lockdown which means that like everyone, our plans have had to be fluid.
Our original plan had been to go back to Australia after our daughter’s wedding to Pieter to visit our son and daughter-in-law. Sadly, limited flights, passenger arrival quotas and the requirement to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks at our own expense has meant this was not feasible.
Our plan B was to do some more exploring through European countries such as France, Germany, Denmark etc but that has also had to be shelved. However, very fortunately for us, while travel within the Netherlands isn’t advised, it also hasn’t been banned and campervan sites throughout the country are still open.
Avoiding anywhere too big or too busy, we have really enjoyed getting to know our daughter’s new home country better.
From the northern seaside village of Lauwersoog we drove to the delightful university city of Zwolle. En route we had a spot of trouble with the van’s electrics – the current kept cutting in and out causing the lights and radio to go on and off.
Fortunately being old hands at having our van breakdown we just looked up at our nearest Ford dealer and dropped in. The dealership in Hemrick really had their act together and very soon their mechanic had tested everything and come to the conclusion that the damp fog of the past couple of days had caused the fault.
We were soon on our way and by late afternoon we’d parked up at the small but handy campervan site in Zwolle just a short walk from the historic town centre.
The city is surrounded by four rivers and built on the only “incline” in the landscape – the one piece of land that remains dry when the rivers flood.
Zwolle has been inhabited since the Bronze Age but the modern city was founded around 800 AD. There are some lovely buildings including St Michael’s Church which was started in 1406 and renovated in the first half of the 15th Century. The Wijndragerstoren (wine bearer tower) was also interesting as it is one of the remaining towers of the defence walls.
A highlight for us was the fabulous bookstore built in what had been a church attached to the Dominican monastery that was founded in 1465. The church was used for Protestant services until 1982 after which it was used to house cultural events before becoming a bookstore.
What a glorious building and what a fabulous book shop!
Zwolle was composed of delightful laneways with wonderful shops. There were some Christmas lights already in place and the fairy lights glistening in trees gave the town a lovely glittery festive atmosphere.
Away from the narrow lanes and brightly lit shops there were traditional Dutch barges and other craft to stare at on the waterways surrounding the city.
During our second walk round the town in full daylight we noticed the amazing city walls which date back to the 14th Century.
Zwolle certainly was really picturesque and very interesting and we agreed that we hadn’t left enough time to fully explore the town and would definitely revisit it before too long.
After being in a city and a seaside town before that, we were looking for somewhere in the country with lots of trees so we could go on some long walks.
We found the perfect place – near a village called Overloon only a few kilometres from the German border. The campsite was right in the middle of the countryside in a paddock fringed with gorgeous trees.
We went for some glorious long walks in the woods nearby. The trees were in their best autumn colours and we really enjoyed exploring some of the many paths on offer.
We found out later that Overloon was almost completely destroyed in 1944 in a ten-day tank battle between a British tank division and the German army. The Germans were trying to keep the Allies from crossing the River Maas. Soon after the war a war museum was founded on the site of the Battle which later became the National War and Resistance Museum and then later, Liberty Park.
Due to Covid the museum wasn’t open but it would be very interesting to return for a look round and have another beautiful walk in the Overloon woods.