We fancied a European adventure with a difference and set our sights on a trip to The Netherlands, in search of windmills and folklore.
We didn’t want a long haul drive, and with an easy to reach crossing from Hull to Rotterdam on the overnight P&O Ferries voyage, we calculated our drive could be kept to 90 minutes each side.
Our two girls are seven and five, so plenty of activities and daytime options to keep us all entertained, was the priority. Plus the chance to visit traditional, fairytale theme park of Efteling, was at the top of our wish list.
After searching online, the southern city of Tilburg beckoned, with the Beekse Bergen Eurocamp nearby, providing a perfect place to stay.
It is ideally situated next to a safari park, and also Speelland, a sprawling play area and water park on a beach, offering endless fun filled days.
It was exciting discovering our luxurious cabin aboard the P&O Ferries ship, for the 12 hour crossing.
The girls squealed on seeing their pull down beds, in what was a spacious club cabin with a window looking over the North Sea. We enjoyed the on board entertainment for children, before snuggling down for a comfortable sleep.
The next morning, we had an easy 100 km drive from Rotterdam, to the south of the country.
If you stay more than three nights at Beekse Bergen, you are given a pass which allows free entry into six main attractions. I estimate this saved us hundreds of euros during our stay.
We were impressed with our location, which was surrounded by woodlands, trees, a river and a lake. Dotted around were play areas with bouncy trampolines and swings for younger children.
We stayed in a safari tent for the first few nights, with proper beds. We relished the ‘glamping’ experience, as it gave us lots of space, an outdoor eating area and included a fridge and cooker. I suppose it is ‘posh camping’ without lugging all the hefty gear along.
We stocked up at a local Lidl supermarket and enjoyed an outdoor feast on our first night.
Exploring the safari park in our car was fun. Windows up was the main rule. We had earlier heard about an excited toddler jumping out of his car and getting too near a big cat.
We saw lions, tigers, cheetahs, giraffes, rhinos and lots of wild animals, with miles of space to roam around. The crocodiles were a hit with our girls and a baby hippopotamus was extremely cute, attracting huge crowds of onlookers, desperate for a glimpse when he poked his head above the water.
You can also see the safari park by boat, bus or on foot.
For the remainder of our stay, we experienced an avant cabin, complete with decking and fancy roof shelter. There was a parking spot just outside, plus we relished having our own bathroom, after using the communal facilities while in the tent. The nearby toilet blocks were excellent, very clean with hot showers at all times. Both the safari tent and avant were great and we would readily book them again.
We enjoyed visiting Tilburg, with its magnificent city centre square, filled with fountains, which spouted from the ground. There are plenty of restaurants and cafe bars dotted around.
The highlight of our trip was a visit to Efteling, the magical, fairy tale and fantasy themed amusement park, which opened in 1952.
The attractions are based on elements from ancient myths and legends, fairy tales, fables, and folklore. It was unlike any other theme park we have seen. It was magical and is worth making an effort to visit. You can also stay at the Efteling hotel, if one day is not long enough.
We enjoyed a haunted house experience, explored an indoor traditional carousel, ate waffles and ice-cream, experienced fun rides and attractions and walked around 10km during our full day there. It was closing time at 8pm before we realised that it was time to go.
We did manage to see just one traditional windmill while we were in Holland in Hilvarenbeek. They were not as common as we had imagined but discovered that many had fallen into disrepair and crumbled.
We had a brilliant holiday and plan to visit the Netherlands in future.
Alison Bellamy travelled to the Netherlands courtesy of P&O Ferries, the UK’s largest ferry company For more details call 08716 646464 or see www.POferries.com.
She stayed with Eurocamp at Beekse Bergen. Eurocamp is the leading provider of outdoors holidays and helps more than 500,000 holidaymakers plan fantastic trips to Europe each year. It offers more than 180 prime locations: from beach and city breaks, to stays amongst mountains and lakes. Most importantly, they offer a range of travel options, including flight, ferry and driving, and flexibility for arrival and departure dates. To book visit www.eurocamp.co.uk or contact the customer service team on 0844 406 0402.
She visited Efteling, a fantasy themed theme amusement park on a family day ticket but longer stays are available, plus there is the Efteling Hotel on site. More details at www.efteling.co.uk