Pancakes The Enchanted Forest Pannenkoekenhuis Het Betoverde Bos

Our kids love a good Pannenkoekenhuis when we are in The Netherlands.  In fact, they have one favorite one in a cute village called Esch.  It’s the Pancakes The Enchanted Forest or Pannenkoekenhuis ‘Het Betoverde Bos’t.  It’s not far from Pake & Beppe’s house and it’s yummy and loads for the kids.

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Inside seating

On Soren’s last day of football camp, we took him here for pancakes to celebrate his hard week – football and 100% Dutch kids so language was tricky!  Though he loved it!

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Pirate Pancake

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Princess Pancake

Inside is quite pretty – a small play area for kids, a trail inside where you find letters and butterflies hidden to decode a secrete message and the shop which you can buy cheap plastic made in China toys for your tokens which you earn based on what you buy.   They tend to get 10 silver coins so end up with a frisbee, sword or skipping rope.  Each time it differs and each time within 24 hours, the item is broken.  But it’s all fun and they love it so why not.

Outside is a great open terrace and a play area with a giant bouncy pillow, swings, a tunnel and two in the ground trampolines so loads for the kids to do while us parents enjoy our beer in the sun – harassed by wasps in the summer.

While Maebh did cartwheels on the pillow, Soren did flips on the trampoline – giving me a near heart attack.

The only one problem we have here is that they never take foreign credit cards and there is no bank machine nearby so remember bring cash!!

I have more photos from a past trip – will see what I can find and post here.

I swear this is the best business idea around – easy to make pancakes which all kids love! And if we are ever living in Hollands, I am sure birthday parties at the pancake house are very popular!

Fall in Ireland = Blackberry picking

Back home in New England it’s a big tradition to visit farms, go apple picking, pumpkin picking and leaf peeping and eat all things pumpkin spice in the autumn. It’s the season I miss most!! 

Here, sadly, we might spy a colourful tree and  I freak out. There is this ONE tree near the Dart station which I point out each time I drive by on the way home.   f I remember, I’ll take a photo of this poor one tree.  Weather permitting, we’re going to pop over to the Botanic Gardens next weekend – hopefully some nice leaves will be on the trees/ground.

Soren was at soccer practice, Maebh and I set off behind Deer Park and picked some blackberries.

For some reason, all the lovely bushes along Howth Celtic were crushed down by a bulldozer – not sure why but I must ask Michael next home game.

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Sadly all these bushes were toppled and crushed.

I have no idea what to make with them so they are in the freezer until we decide what to do – probably a crumble.

 

 

Ireland Road Tripping: Donegal

Last October during the October half term break, we booked three night stay in Letterkenny, Donegal, but after much consideration, we cancelled it and headed to Clifden at the kids’ request. We agreed, we’d head there during the “summer” in the hopes that we had better weather and could do more exploring.

Now fast forward 9 months and we’re heading that way for a 3 night break.  This time, we’ve booked in the Gweedore Court Hotel, which is located in the Gaeltacht heartland, An Chuirtli. With only 66 rooms, it is not as large or modern as the hotels we would prefer, it’s closer to the ocean than Letterkenny and works for us.  Plus it was the only hotel in the area with a pool, pub and availability for the time we chose. The hotel’s pool seems okay but the kids club is only for kids under 8 so we won’t bother. I’ll post photos of the place when we arrive, but while it’s listed as a 4 star hotel, I am not holding my breath that it’s anything special.  Though all the reviews say it’s a very clean hotel – we’ll see.  The views from the area are amazing.

One day we’re going to have to visit Leo’s Tavern.  It’s supposed be renowned for its music being the family home of world famous musical talents Enya, Clannad and Moya Brennan. Not sure we’ll enjoy a Trad session as it tends to kick off at 10 pm (when kids in pubs are banned).

There is just nothing available in any part of Ireland for the long weekend (well, in our budget!)  Clearly, I was not thinking ahead for this weekend away the way I normally do.  I booked Christmas in July and May at Christmas.

Gweedore

I have “Friday Summer hours”  so once the kids are done at camp and me from work, we’ll head up to Donegal. I suspect it will take a good four hour drive but as it’s a new destination, probably a bit longer.

Gweedore from Dublin

As we’ve never been to Donegal before, I’ve been doing some research on things to do and see while there.   I’ve come up with the following list.

View the Kilclooney’s Dolomen – which, according to my information, we must first knock on the cottage and ask the old couple permission to go up and view it. The kids are going to love that part!

Amazing Beaches:  It’s no secret the area is home to some of the most stunning beaches in Ireland so we’ll be sure to stop off at some.

Killybegs – We’re definitely going to stop by this “town” to check it out. I suspect it will be a combination of Howth and Cobh.  The fishing heritage of Howth but the cruise ships visiting like Cobh.  The tourist information says to stop by the visitor centre and get info on the Killybegs Heritage Trail which will take you on a journey back in time to discover this historic harbour town of years gone by.  Maratime Museum in Killybegs looks like something we’d do too.

Glenveagh National Park:  It looks like a beautiful place to explore.  And on Monday of the August bank holiday (Aug 7th) there will be a family nature walk from Stalker’s Hut.   Their site says to book a place on our trail walkers bus at 10am from the car park.  Enjoy the walk down the Bridle Path and meet the education guides at the Stalker’s Hut from 11 am.  Toast marshmallows by the camp fire, traditional music and nature crafts.  Or another idea would be to rent bikes and cycle around the park and walk to the waterfall. For this we’ll certainly have to book in advance if we do this.

Tropical World:  If it’s really bad weather and we need a place to go indoors, we can visit this place.  But then again at €28.00 for our family to visit, they might have more fun bowling, movies or even a giant indoor water park like Waterworld Bundoran which we’d pay €45 for the four us. At 7 & 9, they’ve visited many zoos and butterfly houses in the past so not sure can justify the costs. 

Now not sure if we’ll get there as it’s 1.5 hours from our hotel, but how cool would it be to visit the “Most Northern Point in Ireland – Banba’s Crown on the Inishowen Peninsula, near Malin Head.  Especially since we’ve visited Mizen Head which we always thought was the most Southerly Point but later learned it’s Brow Head, County Cork (though until I just did a search and this map, I no idea were that is exactly!)

mizen head vs brow head

If we do go that far, then I think we should stop off at Dunree Fort too.

One thing is for sure, my new charger & battery for my “better” camera better be here by then as it’s on backorder.   I want some good photographs from this trip!

This post is a work in progress as I find new places to explore and of course will update with photos once there.  

Aviva Stadium: Ireland vs. Uraguay

Yesterday we took the kids to see the friendly fixture against Uraguay as part of the 2018 World Cup series the the Aviva Stadium.   Luis Suarez played for like 10 minutes – probably part of his “contract fulfillment”.

We all first met up at the Bloody Stream for a couple pints then headed in on the DART – Howth to Landsdown Road (super easy!). Funniest thing is Soren was at a playdate earlier so he didn’t join us until the Sutton stop.

I have never been there before so was happy that we all went together.   We will do a stadium tour another time.  The stadium is beautiful, new, loads of bars, food stands.  Speaking of stands and bars – there was a rule you could not bring your beer to the stands!  They loosened up the rule in the second half.  But as I am a self-professed​ beer snob, I would not waste my money. Plus, I had two Hoegardens already at The Bloody Stream.

In order to sit together, we swapped our tickets with another coach, so our tickets were in premium section 324 which was great but the rest if the group was up in 511, we moved 1/2 way thru. There the kids would be with their pals and it made going home a lot easier.

On the DART on the way home, some of the boys were cracking us up climbing the poles and trying to do chin ups, etc. A little brother was the best!!

Great night and all was safe – there was a no bags policy in place but it was outside in the crowds which was my most uneasy period.  I did not see one armed Garda – yes, I still have strange feeling about the fact that most of our police do NOT carry guns!!  A few issues with drunk losers but thankfully that didn’t  escalate.  Anyway on the DART, no worries only laughs at the climbing monkies.

Fun time with a great group of kids and parents and awesome that we won!

Schipol Airport Adventure

While our original plans of ending our two week trip to The Netherlands over Easter in Amsterdam for two nights changed 😦 we still are flying out from Amsterdam on the 9:45 pm flight to Dublin.  Therefore we will have some time to kill at the airport. Thankfully Schipol is a very child-friendly place.

They happily got to take their train ride on the top deck while Nils sat down with the bags.  It was only an hour so he probably enjoyed the quiet time with his book.  The kids liked spotting good graffiti, bardges on the waterways and by the Ajax stadium where Soren gave a thumbs down.  I hoped to see tulip fields but no such luck!

Once we put Nils in the bar area, we set off to find The Planes @Plaza where the kids can design and print a 3D paper airplane for FREE! And sit inside an old cockpit and press all the buttons he/she wants. 

After we checked our bags, we set out for Nils’ spot, Murphy’s Irish Pub for more beer, bitterballen and nachos (this was dinner!). After a bit I had to leave the bar – absolutely boring and the kids and I walked into the shops.   They got Pringles for the plane and wyer but I could have bought so much stuff. I want a nice cheese assortment and Maebh wants soft wooden shoe slippers.

They do some plane watching – it’s a very big airport, so watching some huge planes could be a possibility but turned out we,’d have to go down a different area to see the really big ones.  Panorama Terrace is a cool spot.  All the planes in our section we’re for UK and Ireland.

We were going to look for the Kids Forest play area on Level 1 in the Holland Boulevard between Piers E & F.  It’s says it’s for kids 3-9 so our 9 year old might be a bit but we never made it there.

While we didn’t do it there is a Schipol Scavenger Hunt.

Think you know all of Schiphol’s secrets? Think again! If you’re a budding detective, visit the information desk in Schiphol Plaza to ask for a scavenger kit. It will help you learn all about Schiphol with thrilling tasks, trivia and more.

But I felt like most of the searching was before sending security, I thought it would be ‘safer’ to do it after, so steered the kids away from it.  At times I am paranoid about a possible attack in a crowded place and just a bit extra vigilant as an airport this big and crowded could be just that place.  I did see a few security guards but nothing like Antwerp Christmas market.  

They do Behind The Scenes Tours which looks great but the last tour is at 2:30 pm so it won’t work out this time.

Overall it is a very large, family friendly airport including baby areas to let them rest, and a yotel to rent a room for  both few hours, but do prepared for longer lines in security and passport control.  Oh there is a casino with blackjack and roulette tables but I kept far away! 

I am going to do searching for our next trip to Amsterdam and will hopefully update with photos from the Behind The Scenes Tour.

Top 8 things for families to do in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

When I thought of Rotterdam, I associated it with a very modern American city along with Nils and Soren’s favorites soccer team Feyernoord, which we have visited before.

It was not until now doing my tourism research, I see the city has a lot more to offer than Feyernoord fan shops ;). I knew they had a tram system but no idea an underground Metro.

World War 2, left a terrible scar on the city of Rotterdam. Being severely bombed by the Germans, the war left the city in total devastation that is why it has so many new buildings. A couple of buildings like city hall and a few small spots were not hit and they show how Rotterdam used to be. Delftshaven, Oudehaven or Veerhaven. 

Part of my attraction to Amsterdam and Netherlanda in general, is the buildings.  This is probably why I ignored Rotterdam for so long.

It is also surprisingly a very family-friendly city with loads to do for children. I have complied a “top 8 things to do with children when visiting Rotterdam” list.  But we need more than one day to get through the list.

#1 – MARITIEM MUSEUM

We absolutely loved this museum. Even if you are not a water person, you’ll still find it interesting. I did a separate post on it here.  

#2 – SIGHTSEE THE CITY BY WATER 

There are a few options available for you to visit and sightsee by water including hop on and off boats and water taxis.

First is Spido tours. Among the busy traffic of sea-going and inland ships, this trip is a special journey through one of the largest harbours in the world. You can see Rotterdam’s impressive skyline with its imposing buildings glide by, and then get a unique view of the harbours shipyards, docks and the hypermodern transshipping of thousands of containers. Last but not least the tour will end with a view of the steamship ‘Rotterdam’, the former cruise flagship of shipping company Holland America Line. An exciting 75 minutes with clear descriptions of everything you see.

Second is Splashtours which is similar to the Ducktours in Boston but instead of a WW2 style vehicle it’s an anphibious​ bus!  You have the option of first taking a tour where you drive through the city before ‘splashing’ into the river Maas.

But unlike the humourous Boston drivers who give live commentary, here your tour was TV footage and audio.

#3 – PANNENKOEKEN BOAT

If the idea of eating UNLIMITED Dutch pancakes with a variety of toppings while seeing Rotterdam by boat seems like your type of fun, you won’t want to miss this place.  They offers variety of sailings from 75-minute to 2.5 hours!   They even have a ball pit area to keep the younger kids entertained.

Tip: As with many other local attractions, when booking online, you can combine visits and save a few Euros!

#4 – PLASJWIJCK PARK

This place is so unique and a place the kids would love to visit and never get bored!  It’s called an amusement park but it’s more of a indoor and outdoor playspace with a petting zoo and water playground. The parks website is only in Dutch but this review is in English and is very thorough and shows how fun this place can be for kids.

#5 – ROTTERDAM ZOO 

Also known as Dierengaard Blijdorp, it is recognized as one of the most beautiful zoos in Europe, it is home to giraffes, tigers, seals, gorillas, polar bears all having their own unique habits.  Other highlights include the award-winning butterfly garden area, Amazonica and an aquarium area Oceanium.  

Tips: Buy tickets online and save €2.00 each and pack a picnic, food and drinks can be expensive.

 #6 – EUROMAST

The Euromast is Rotterdam’s iconic observation tower. It was built in 1960 to mark the occasion Floriade, an international flower and garden exhibition. Its height at 101 meters was the tallest building back in the days. Unfortunately, Euromast quickly lost its title due to the ever changing Rotterdam’s skyline. In 1970, Euromast retaliated with additional 85 meters by adding a rotating elevator – ‘Space Tower’.

Once you buy your entrance tickets, you embark on the super fast elevator ride to go up almost 100 meters in just 30 seconds. First stop, a restaurant Brasserie at 92 meters high which serves high-tea, luxurious menu and the view of Rotterdam on the side. The panorama platform is one level up at 96 meters. It has spectacular views of the ports, the city skyline, famous structures and of course the nearby Erasmus Bridge. 

On the same level, there are two hotel suites available for a premium price. 

From the panorama platform, it is another flight of stairs up to reach the Euroscope. It is basically a giant rotating panoramic elevator with sit down capacity of approximately 25 people. Euroscope starts at 112 meters and rises slowly in a circle to 185 meters for a spectacular 360° view of Rotterdam. The duration of the ride is about 7-8 minutes.

There are other things that you can do at Euromast. You can join the challenge of climbing 589 steps and try to break the record of 1 minute 47 seconds or zipline (yuck!). There is a kids club and a trail for the kids- even birthday party options. I we have not yet done this but I can see for some kids it might not be so exciting.

It is a gorgeous view on a clear day at Rotterdam’s tallest tower. But there is always a queue throughout this attraction whether it isfor ticketing, elevator ride, at the restaurant and certainly for Euroscope.

Tip: the city of Rotterdam practices no cash policy, so get this ONLY credit and debit cards accepted. Euromast adopts this policy and the nearby parking facilities too. Note for the tourists – cash is not acceptable! What!?

#7 – SS ROTTERDAM CRUISE SHIP

This Trans-Atlantic liner has been transformed into a restaurant/bar and 254 room hotel.

The ss Rotterdam is the largest passenger ship ever built in The Netherlands: 228 meters long, 28 meters wide and 61 meters in height. It was inaugurated by Dutch Queen Juliana in 1958. Until 1971 it ran scheduled services to New York City, but turned more towards cruises when air traffic became more popular. You can read more about the history and things onboard on their site.  

#8 – MORE MUSEUMS

There are several other museums to visit where the children will be entertained and at the same time learn something.

Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam features skeletons, stuffed animals, fossils, butterflies.

Museum Rotterdam ’40 – ’45  features all things pertaining to the War and the resistance. Its a reminder of how people lived and what they did during the war. It is a treasure trove of information and stuf like cigar boxes, Jewish stars, etc 

While I know there are more things to do, these are some top choices of things to do with kids in Rotterdam.  When we do them all, I will add more details and photos.


Maritiem Museum in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Today Nils has to be in Rotterdam for two meetings, so the kids and I are taking the ride with a him (no train costs!) And going off to explore the city for those four hours.

After looking around a bit online, I think the best thing to do is the Maritiem Museum and go from there.

The museum is was so awesome for both kids and adults!   As we entered the museum, we immediately found the lockers for our coats (we learned from our previous museum trips!)  

Then we headed up to the permanent exhibition, “The Offshore Experience” 

When we first arrived a worker told me we had to ‘enter at our own risk‘ and the kids area was on the 2nd floor and this is for ages 8+. But with a 7 & 9 year old, I said we’d give it a try and went inside. 

First you have a quick video introducing you to the process and safety of being on an oil rigging platform, activate your enterance card and you then actually get to stand on a simulated platform.   I had to really not look at the water as I got dizzy and seasick.  There are 9 ‘games’or better yet challenges you have to complete. Clearly geared towards adults but very cool stuff.  Soren loved it and think he’s got a future career mapped out. Maebh while didn’t hate it,  was more cautious and we walked down the stairsand Soren took the pitch black elevator which puts you on the ocean floor (again simulated).  Overall it was AWESOME section of the museum.
After about 1/2 day Maebh comes up and says, “I think this whole place is like about a boat!” Lol she had no idea what maritime meant!! 

This section of the museum was about cruising history and on-board ships.

The second floor was Professor Splash area (in & outside) which the kids LOVED!  They worked together and with other kids as they pretended they were working on the shipping docks moving containers with cranes, etc

I have to go in and add some more photos and more details later but great place and we need to return here!

Would be free with the Museum Kaart (Dutch residents only) but we paid €26 for the three of us so not bad at all.  A quick magnet at the gift shop and then headed home.