Wednesday, August 18, 2010

From Zeeland to Bavaria, and Back Again

Having traveled to Zeeland twice in the last month, I'm starting to see what the attraction is.

It came to me as I was lying on the cool ground after a jog along the tree-lined dikes. I stared up a the sky, watching the amazing speed of the clouds as they cleared and made way for the sun.

The saying goes that Zeeland has more days of sunshine than any other Dutch province. I'd guess that it's because Zeeland has more wind han any other province, which means the clouds and storm systems move out as quickly as they moved in. But from our two and a half years on the farm, I can tell you that the weather is not Zeeland's strength.

We often chuckled at German families vacationing there, driving their children onto the beach like military drill sergeant, with no regard to wind and rain. WE WILL HAVE FUN!!!

No, the weather is not this region's strong suit. What is is the combination of things you can do with your children when the weather is bad. There are so many, in fact, that you could not possibly do them all in a typical 1-2 week vacation. They can be pirates at Vlissingen's "Het Arsenaal", mingle with butterflies and reptiles at Berkenhof's Tropical Zoo and Butterfly Garden in the otherwise sleepy town of Kwaddendamme, play at any number of indoor play areas designed for all ages of children (Middelburg's Mini Mundi, Vlissingen's Bambini, S'Heer-Arendskerke's Klok 'Uus, etc), score a goal at Middleburg's new indoor soccer "theme park", and so much more! And that's just when the weather's bad. On the days when the sun peaks out from behind the clouds, there's the beautifully preserved cities of Middelburg, Goes, and Veere (my three favorites); beaches; steam train rides to the cute town of Hoedekenskerke; bicycle rides through the magical "Zak van Zuid Beveland (try the "Winkeltjes Pad" if you're interested in country stores with fresh cheeses, jams, and more!), wind surfing (I went with "Xschool" in Kamperland - you can read my blog post about it here!), and I could go on and on.

If you live in a place like Florida, South Africa's Garden Route, or the Aussie gem of Queensland, none of this may sound very appealing. However, for those of us in the "rest of the world", where the summer is nearly as unpredictable as the Springtime and Autumn, it's refreshing to know that there's a place that we can go with our children where we can be certain - irregardless of fickle weather - we're going to have one heck of a great time.

And for me that place, dear readers, is Zeeland.

Want to know more? Here's exactly what we chose to spend our days doing.
  • Eating mussels with friends. We cooked them in a tiny bit of water with chopped veggies (onions, celery, & carrots). Yum! (Note: Big mussel fans should try to coincide their visit with Yerseke's annual "Mussel Days"... which happen to be this coming weekend!)

  • Visiting nearby farms with the children - including one of my favorites, the "Kinderboederij" at the "Hollandsche Hoeve" in Goes

  • Letting the kids be kids at Goes' awesome Tom-Sawyer-style playground (be sure to go over the hill to find the water area with wooden rafts, boats, and a little sand island! It's also located at De Hollandsche Hoeve... which has the world's worst website, but is SO WORTH VISITING!!!)

  • Getting lost in one of my favorite gardens (in the whole world!) -- The Sequoiahof in the tiny town of Vlake.

  • Wandering through the tropical gardens of the Berkenhof Vlindertuin (mentioned above), then heading outdoors to walk through the hydrangeas, roses and bamboo to the outdoor children's play area. In my opinion, they have one of the best restaurants in ALL of Zeeland!!! The food and service are always GREAT! Treated myself and the kids to a hot fudge sunday or "Dames Blanche"

Sound great? It was! So get on your way already!

As for us, now back "home" in the German region of Bavaria now, the weather's is rather chilly and I had to make a fire to warm the living room last night. Perhaps somebody can tell me what there is to do with children here when the weather's bad? I'm all ears! Until then, I'll be planning our return to Zeeland, where a kid (and any adult companions) can be a kid! ;)

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