Pieter’s dad has a small second home in the East of the country, which is much closer to his work than the family home. It also happens to be in one of the most beautiful nature areas the Netherlands have to offer: the Veluwe (vay-lew-uh). It’s a fairly hot vacation destination for the Dutch, with camp grounds and clusters of vacation homes strewn about. It’s also one of the higher points in Holland – roughly 20m higher than its surroundings, due to the collision of some glaciers in the Ice Age. The ground is almost entirely made up of sand, and apparently rocks have been found buried deep down thought to have travelled all the way down from Scandinavia thousands of years ago.
Pieter’s dad’s place is a quiet little paradise, out of sight of any neighbours, where you can lazily sip your coffee amidst the birds and the frogs and – if you’re feeling athletic – bike through the neighbouring village of Bennekom.
On Saturday morning, we grabbed some old bikes from the shed and set off to do groceries for the weekend. I felt particularly European biking back with a basil plant and a fresh loaf of bread!
We spent the rest of the morning sitting perfectly still by the pond, hoping to catch a glimpse of its resident frogs.
Our patience was well rewarded.
In the afternoon, we hopped in the car in the direction of Arnhem – we were going to the Open Air Museum there. It’s a huge outdoor area where they bring old, historical buildings from throughout Dutch history.
We were slightly delayed due to a particularly long tractor parade!
We spent the sunny afternoon discovering old weaver’s houses and launderettes and windmills and all things historic and Dutch.
We even had a very traditional treat … Poffertjes (pof-er-tch-uhs) – teeny tiny pancakes that are puffed up and served with butter and powdered sugar.
They’re so small and buttery that they melt in your mouth. No further endorsement is required, I think!
That evening, we rewarded ourselves for our cultural exploits with a nice dinner, some bubbly, and a great movie (Ghandi – really long but really really good).
The next day we set off on a mighty hike through the woods. (Mind that ‘hiking’ in Holland mostly entails flat surfaces … Perfect for those who are not so athletically inclined, such as myself!)
Also, when you go hiking in the Netherlands you’re never too far away from a farm. It’s a rather civilized activity, with a lot of concrete paths you can take – very Dutch, really.
We did get further into the wilderness, though, and I fell in love with this little cabin …
Like so many parts of the Netherlands, the Veluwe is not something you’re likely to hear about when people recount their travels, but it’s gorgeous and definitely worth a visit. Just the place to spend a few days recharging your batteries!