We had a house swap in Arnhem which is an hour or so west of Amsterdam. One great thing about house swapping is that we get to visit places that we wouldn’t have thought of or are not on the tourist track. We love Holland so were happy to try out a new area and this one did not let us down. Arnhem is delightful. It’s a very green city with lovely trees everywhere, parks, bike trails (naturally), and rivers. Plus there are some great museums and nature parks.
We spent a day at the huge Netherlands Open Air Museum. There
are 40 or more houses/barns that have been brought in to show Dutch life
through the centuries. We really learned a huge amount about farming and historical
pieces that we weren’t aware of before. The weather was amazing that day too
and perfect for wandering around or taking the trolley that trundled the
perimeter of the park.
We also loved the The
Kröller-Müller Museum art museum
which is located in the middle of a national park (De Hoge Veluwe National Park).
Again, gorgeous weather and driving around the forest was incredible. I wish we
had time to have walked (or you can rent bikes) there as the paths looked
lovely. The art museum holds the second largest number of Van Gogh pieces in
the world and has some lovely collections including Picasso, Seurat, Monet, and
Mondriaan. There is an outdoor sculpture garden too that is the largest in
Europe. A day wandering around this itself is needed.
Then we also visited the WWII museum which is extremely well done. The immersive areas with noise and flashing “bombs” are intense but memorable. Arnhem was the site of a big battle and subsequent movie so this museum remembers all of this. It was a good expansion after just coming from Dachau.
Charlotte has been reading a lot about WWII and wanted to go to a camp and Ann Frank’s house. We were not able to fit in Amsterdam this trip (during previous visits I thought she was too young) so in our drive across country, we stopped to visit Dachau which is just west of Munich. I was apprehensive about how intense this was going to be as I remember being very upset as a teen when I lived in Germany and our high school visited a camp. We were unable to take the free tour in English as it was full (get there very early for this) so had the individual audio recordings which actually were just fine and we were able to move around on our own pace. It was intense and horrifying but the focus in the camp is not on macabre but on peace and not letting this ever happen again. There are limited photographs of horrors and lots of places for reflection with worship centers from multiple religions. It is very simply laid out and maintained and has a feeling of calm reflection within – at least that is what I found. The kids were OK too. Quiet and reflective and I found we were walking holding hands or hooking arms together.
I did not take many photos here as it did not feel
comfortable. There were the tourists doing selfies at the gates (why@#^$&???)
but mostly people were similarly quiet.
I really recommend taking older children and teens here as
we all need to remember.
We stayed about 10 minutes away in a lovely little town called Olching. Our hotel was amazing – Hotel Schiller – and the people very friendly. Great onsite Bavarian restaurant with top notch food. Really enjoyed staying here.
I love serendipitous finds in our travels and the New Forest
was one of these. We were looking for somewhere for a couple of weeks so I was
browsing google maps and remembered a great book I had on my childhood shelves –
Children of the New Forest. I also remembered it was very horsey and in fact
there are XX New Forest ponies that wander freely around this large national
park. The houses all need gates or cattle grids and fences to stop the ponies
(and pigs, cows, deer) from wandering in and destroying gardens but it’s fun to
lookout and see 4 or 5 ponies just walking up the lane next to the house or
having to drive around them as they stand in the roads.
We found a lovely “cottage” (3 story) in the village of Burley. Within a 5 minute walk we had 3 pubs, a shop, small shops and some restaurants. The village shop was quite fancy with sushi/homemade pies and condiments, and a local butchery with sausages and pheasant/duck/chicken etc. all from the surroundings farms. Great to be able to eat local foods like that. We sampled the pub food and were not disappointed either.
The preserve has so many walking paths that it would take a couple of years to explore them all. Everywhere we went there were parking lots and hiking trails heading off.
Burley was about 20 minutes to the beach as well so we explored this coast. Some gorgeous small towns to wander the beach and eat fish and chips on. We had more glorious weather which was a pleasant surprise in October.
And close for a day’s visit to Stonehenge.
We had a great surprise from my brother and his wife who popped over from Dubai for the weekend too. It was fun wandering around a cider festival complete with old engines and traveler caravans – and sampling local ciders – with them.
Ponies and walking in the woods were our big favorites here. Charlotte is ready to move there!
We were driving from Slovenia to Holland and so decided to spend a couple of nights in Salzburg. It is a lovely city and quite compact in terms of walking to most places of interest but hotels are ridiculously expensive.
Our treat was to book a dinner and concert in the city’s castle one evening. Fortress Hohensalzburg is an 11th Century castle that watches over the city. We took a cable car up to it and the views were lovely.
Everything is so close in Europe that it is easy to jump into
another country for a short trip or even lunch! We traveled from our house swap
in Slovenia to the Istrian Peninsula of Croatia and fell in love with the
country. The drive was very easy and no wait at the border or any problems
taking Darwin in and out (this is out of Schengen zone so passports needed).
We stayed in a town called Rovinj which is an old fishing
port. The streets are narrow and cobbled and quite steep in places leading up
to the lovely old church of St Euphemia. We walked up one sunset and were lucky
to see a Croatian wedding taking place complete with local musicians and
The beaches are pebbled and quite uncomfortable to sit on (locals sensibly had yoga mats) but the water is incredibly clear and blue. Gorgeous scenery.
The food was also amazing with great seafood, local
sausages, olive oils, truffles (my favorite) and dare I say the pizzas and
pastas rivalled if not beat out Italy.
The port area is filled with outdoor restaurants for boat
and people watching and there are many places to stay within walking distance
(important as limited parking). There are lots of boat trips offered as well
but we ran out of time to talk any. Prices were very good for them.
Some worldschooling families recommended this small town high in the Slovenian Alps to us and I am so grateful. This is one of those places you can easily imagine living for longer in and I sure hope to get back soon.
It’s a small town nestled in mountains with turquoise rivers flowing through. There are walking and bike trails all over so you can tackle gentle strolls to highly skilled climbing.
We found loads of restaurants of all types with great food (lots of Italian/pizza). The town has many ski slopes that look to start right next to the hotels and shops but thankfully it was summer for our visit.
The capital city of Slovenia is just less than an hour from our house swap so we have visited a couple of times. It’s really a lovely city and has some great restaurants, museums, and markets. On Fridays there is a huge food fair with top notch stalls of food.
There are a few Arabic restaurants and we had to indulge. Delicious.
Our house swap is in a gorgeous country house set on the shores of Lake Cerknica. This is a fascinating lake that disappears in summer and then the water comes back for the other three seasons. It drains down to underground rivers and caverns and is all part of the Karst region here which is filled also with under ground caves.
We went to one that is huge (Postojna Cave) and you take a train about 4 kilometers in and then walk for an hour. It’s one of the biggest we have been in and fascinating. From there you can go up to the Predjama Castle. This is built into a cave with more underneath.
The whole region (and our backyard) is filled with apple trees, plum trees, and vegetable gardens. It’s really great to see but we are running out of ideas of what to do with all the plums!
We are only about 2.5 hours from Venice here in Slovenia so had to take a trip there. It’s been a hot summer which is not so much fun in a crowded, touristy city so when a cold front was coming through we took advantage of it. The drive there was rainy and cold but by the time we go onto the water taxis it turned out to be perfect (70s) weather and dry.
I apologize for so many pictures but goodness this was a beautiful city. I’d been as a teen and fondly remembered it but wandering around with the kids (and Darwin) meant for a special few days.
We ate well for sure including squid ink past and of course pizzas.
We had a house swap in Slovenia so headed from UK across mainland Europe. The driving was very easy with great highways and no real road works or delays. German autobahns were a fun experience to revisit!
The chunnel is so easy and fast. I can’ t imagine taking a ferry anymore given how simple it is to drive onto the train and sit in the car while it shoots under the sea. And so much easier with Darwin too.
We stopped in Belgium for one night and stayed across the road from the huge Stella Artois brewery (a favorite beer) but goodness the country is so expensive I’m glad it was a short visit. We pushed on and stayed a night in Bavaria and had a lovely meal in a non touristy restaurant complete with accordion/traditional musicians. Fun times.
Then we spent a couple of days in the most amazing spot: Kranjska Gora which is in the top part of Slovenia in the Julian Alps. I fell in love with this little town and really hope to get back. The colours were amazing and the mountains surrounding were impressive. There are loads of ski slopes for those who venture out in the cold too. I prefer summer!
On the way to our house we stopped at Lake Bled. Lovely but far too crowded for us and parking was a nightmare. We quickly moved on but would be worth going back to in the off season.