Kevelaer & Xanten, Germany

During our recent Easter trip to Germany to visit Irrland – Europe’s biggest adventure farm oasis, we stopped by two different villages in Germany, Kevelaer & Xanten – both were very cute, worth visiting and easy day trip from the Netherlands.

Kevelaer, Germany


Kevelaer is a town in the district of Kleve, in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. It is the largest Catholic pilgrimage location within north-western Europe.  As you walk through the town, you cannot help but notice all the religious shops.  In fact, more than 1 million pilgrims, mostly from Germany and the Netherlands, visit Kevelaer every year to honour the Virgin Mary.  The large pilgrimage church, Stations of the Cross and numerous chapels, including the Chapel of Grace, are the major points of interest for Christians visiting Kevelaer.  If interested in finding out more visit here.



For 375 years, Christians looking for hope have sought out an image of the Mother of God: the Madonna in the small Baroque chapel on Kapellenplatz (Chapel Square) at the heart of Kevelaer.  Click on that link above to see a live webcam feed.  This has transformed the tiny town in the Lower Rhine region into one of the most important Marian shrines in Germany, and made it a meeting place for prayer and silent conversation with God.


There was a mass going on so I didn’t get to pop my head inside but I did take some photos outside.



We walked around a bit where I took some photos of the lovely buildings. (It is here my American side really comes out.  I really love the various buildings and the fine details, the windows, the colors even the choice of fonts.  While many European friends don’t even notice or care about them like I do).  Oh yeah, we did enjoy a beer on a sunny terrace before heading having a pizza for dinner and heading back to Schloss Wissen for the night.







Xanten, Germany

Old town of Xanten, Germany was the second place worth mentioning.  Located a bit further west, it is still not that far from the border of the Netherlands – so an easy day trip.

Xanten is a town in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in the district of Wesel.  Xanten is known for the Archaeological Park, one of the largest archaeological open air museums in the world, built at the site of the Roman settlements Colonia Ulpia Traiana.

We first went there on Monday morning to find a place for breakfast and ended up in Cafe Moll & Dom and had a yummy breakfast before walking around the town a bit.   No we didn’t get a cake for breakfast but they were huge and looked AMAZING!!


We started to walk up by St. Viktor Dom and followed the footprints on the ground…  (It also had a mass going on – as it was Second Easter day – otherwise I would have looked inside – the photos from google are very impressive)








Maebh and I walked over to the large windmill we saw from the car on the way in. We didn’t know that until after that it is Kriemhildmühle – an actual working windmill that allows you to go right into the works.  After you can get an excellent cup of coffee and a nice baked treat that’s made from grain that’s ground right there in the mill itself!!   Next time for sure!!








Both kids were tired, everyone was a bit nippy with each other [I didn’t sleep at all the night before thanks to those f’ng bells 🙂 ] and at this point no one wanted to visit the archaeological open air museum,.  Instead we ended up just driving home.  We’ll definitely go back another time as it’s not far from us at all. 

I love visiting these villages in Germany.  Of course, visiting them during Christmas season is great too as they have the Christmas Market (Xanten is supposed to have a nice one) and so much atmosphere, but living so close by in the Netherlands, I hope to explore Germany more this summer.   I really want to visit Monschau next and spend a few nights.  But new rule – I’m now going to be sure to confirm my hotel & room is not opposite a clock tower or church – oh the bells 🙂  



Schloss Wissen, Weeze, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

As our family didn’t have any plans with the extended family over the Easter weekend, we decided to drive a bit over an hour and head west into Germany and spend one night away.  Our plan was that we’d spend Easter Sunday at Irrland in Kevelaer, Germany – Europe’s biggest “Farm – Adventure Oasis” which was a lot of fun and book a hotel nearby.  Come Monday, the second Easter day, we’d just go around locally – perhaps visit Archäologischer Park Xanten Eingang LVR-Römermuseum for the day and then make our way home.  While the kids were off for two full weeks, N had to work on Tuesday.











In looking at the hotels nearby Irrland, the main reason we went to Germany, we found Schloss_Wissen_Hotellerie and decided that would be where we would stay.   It was a beautiful location on the grounds of a real German castle which is over 555 years old.  But as the castle is a private residence,  you are not allowed into it, but you can walk the grounds. There are multiple bike paths that go through the grounds if you wish to walk or bring your bike. I read somewhere they have some bikes you could borrow – not sure if that is still the case – do ask, if interested. 


As for the facilities – they offer a buffet breakfast at 15. per person which we politely declined.  We did go into the historical, lovely old town of Xanten instead and had breakfast at Cafe Moll am Dom which I will make a separate post about that cute town and Kevelaer, Germany soon. Personally, I like to see a breakfast included in the price of hotels when the price point is over 100 per night stay like it is in Ireland (guess we’re spoiled with so many weekends away).   Anyway,  I understood it was a buffet breakfast of coffee/tea, juice, pastry, some breads, sandwich meats and a boiled eggs.  At a price of 60 for our family for just breakfast, I’d like a bigger, better set up with more choice.    Plus I know my kids… M will have a croissant with jam or a single bowl of corn flakes and a glass of juice – so I’d rather not pay 15 for just that.  Hopefully I am not the only person who thinks this is not good value?  Bueller, Bueller?  Someone please tell me I’m not the only one!

There is no bar or restaurant onsite and it is quite remote (read: you must have a car to get around) but again for us it was only for one night, so we didn’t really care too much about the hotel facilities.  We try to book hotels with a pool and a bar onsite but this time we didn’t care – as we knew we were not going to be using it and it was for only one night.     They do offer a park and fly deal for those traveling out of Weeze – so that might be handy… but see my warning below first before you book.

About our specific room – Alexandrina.  The room was clean, spacious had a pull out sofa for the budgies and a room for the adults.  The TV was upstairs however in a loft – I would have preferred it to be downstairs so we could have lounged around a bit as a family.

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I had two complaints about the hotel which would prevent us from staying here again – but for others it might not bother them.

1). The pillows.  While feather, they were so thin, I couldn’t get comfortable.  I had to take ALL the towels from the bathroom, fold them and put them inside my pillow case to make the pillow thicker.

2) Ringing bells from the clock tower.   My kids and hubby slept through it but for me, I didn’t sleep well at all… each time I finally fell asleep, BONG, I woke to bells ringing – it did my flipping head in!!  I personally am a light sleeper, so for me this was so hard.  I had the same issue during Xmas at the Zaltbommel apartment – The clock rang every quarter of an hour and chimes the number of hours on the hour, day and night, 7 days a week .  Again these issues were my issues and for others might not bother them at all.  I am sure others who live near a church are used to it… my in laws live opposite a church they are used to it – but for me, I HATE it! 🙂   It can’t be just me who cannot deal with the bells?!  

Perhaps if our room was located in a unit not as close to the tower that would be better.  I don’t know… I just didn’t sleep and when Mama doesn’t sleep, the next day is a bad day for all 🙂 



Their website is only in German and Dutch but you can see the room options and details and use google translate tool if you don’t understand either of these languages and want to get some history about the castle and specifically about each room and see more about the hotel and what it offers.




Irrland, Kevelaer, Germany: Europe’s biggest “Farm-Adventure Oasis”

Today we drove a bit over one hour from our home in the Netherlands to visit Europe’s biggest “farm adventure oasis” park called Irrland in Kevelaer, Germany.

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I first found this place online and knew it was a great place for us to visit at least once.  A few people I spoke with, who visited before, told me we’d love it and, they were right, it was a great day for the kids!   However, after being there once, I must say that it would have been better if we were, like the other 99%, with a huge BBQ set up!  Anyway, when you are not prepared, you make the most of it, and we did just that.

What sets this park apart from others is three things:

  1.  PRICE

The park is open in summer from 9 am to 7 pm so you can really go ALL day if you wanted!  But do check online the dates/times when you go and don’t trust my information as we all know things are subject to change.  Judging by the full car parks when we came in, people were there very early – I suspect to get their preferred spots.

I can spend hours talking about what we saw, what you can do, what we did, etc.  Instead, I’ll keep it simple and encourage you to look online (or if close enough, go and visit the park yourself).

Essentially, it’s a large outdoor park (but not one with big electric action rides like Effteling or Duinrell but more of a farm slash adventure playground type park) spread out over more than 8,000 square meters and split into three areas – North, South & West.   You park where there is space – first come first serve – but no worries, you can rent little carts for 3.00 (with €10. deposit) to get your stuff from the entrance to your bbq spot.  Of course, from your car to the cart you are on your own.  

In total, there are apparently more than 80 different games & learning attractions to enjoy.

We didn’t do or see them all, but here are some of the highlights:

  • indoor climbing park
  • inflatables all over the park
  • water slides
  • VERY, VERY high dry slides – which were unmanned & scared the crap out of me!! 
  • water park area / paddling area
  • floating water logs which our kids LOVED!!
  • indoor playground with corn
  • bamboo mazes
  • various go-karts – according to Nils, the largest track in Europe!
  • exotic & farmyard animals

Here are a few photos from today…

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Day entry is 7.50 pp.  Online purchase allows you to save .50 pp . of if you go with a group of 20 and you can pay 5.50 pp.   A season ticket is only 25.00 per person so if you live nearby, and judging by the cars in the lots, MANY DO, this is the place where families go for a good time and a budget price.   Oh and parking is FREE!

We got there fairly early (10 am) but not as early as so many other families who were already there and even had their bbq started at 10 am?!  A bit early in my mind but okay!  We wanted to find an area with both shade and sun with an umbrella near the water park area so we set out over towards the North/South area though our car was parked on the West – so it was a bit of a hike.   We found an umbrella in a great location, but no table because those who were already there took the tables and benches so Nils found some from other areas around the corner.  It is very common to take bbq pits from empty areas, so arrive early or you’ll find yourself with no tables, no benches or no BBQs.  We found some families with THREE BBQs, loads of tables and beaches.  The photo below is what the free bbq areas look like – you could go with several families and get a group in a row but again if you wanted to ensure you had more privacy or a specific area or set number together, you should rent a private villa.

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Anyway, we set up our towels and a blanket I brought and set off to explore the park a bit with the kids to get them acquainted before we headed back to our area.  We also wanted to get a bite to eat as we didn’t bring a bbq – unlike 99% of the park.  Then when we got to the kiosk nearest out area and it was closed so we had no choice but to go to the other side of the park.  We ended up having french fries (very reasonably priced at €1.50 per portion) but there were not many other food options again as 99% of the park brings their own food.  Bummer for us, but it makes sense.   The kids played in the water for a bit before we headed off.


Again, we didn’t BBQ but what we saw was that nearly all families brought their own supplies, tablecloths, charcoal, meats, drinks, salads, EVERYTHING!!  I did read online that they offer the ability to purchase meats and charcoal, fire starters online and pick it up when you arrive.  Much like you were camping, you need to bring all your utensils, etc – but it seemed like everyone who was doing it was very prepared.  Many even had quite the spread including beer & wine in glass containers which might be a problem in the future if accidents. Some tables looked so good, we wanted to join them! I am a huge fan of middle eastern food so the salads were especially delicious looking!!


One plus about this park was that they are open for all holidays so for those not celebrating the particular holidays, they had a place to visit for that day.    We visited on Easter Sunday!


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If we ever returned, we would definitely get a private villa rental – while they have no power, no water, no fridge nor bathrooms,  you do have your OWN area.  Some more private with buildings others are just with roofs – all are scattered around the park.  I’d personally love to return with say the football team families and rent a bigger one or with our extended family and a smaller one. Of course, do a big pot luck meal over a few BBQs. You can reserve and book online one of the 76 villas based on the number in your party (some hold up to 200 people) and you can pick based on where you want to be in the park.  For us near the water was perfect, for others, perhaps near the giant slide would be cool – so many choices.

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Check out their website for a 3D tour – and if you are lucky, like us,  to live reasonably close by, go for the day, and enjoy all it has to offer!  You won’t break the bank and your kids (under 12) will love it!   Over that they’ll probably only like the giant slides, water rafts, and the go-karts but you never know – being the first time there, they might enjoy other parts too.

Irrland is somewhere I would definitely recommend visiting if you have kids under 12. Due to some troubles with groups of kids in the past, if you have kids with you over 13, be sure you bring IDs for them… and see the important info on their site under IMPORTANT NOTES.

While it was only a bit over an hour to drive home, we decided to stay overnight at nearby Schloss Wissen to make a weekend away out of it, which I’ll post about our time in the town on Kevelaer and my post about our stay at Schloss Wissen.


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Christmas Market: Aachen, Germany

Today we drove over to Aachen, Germany, to visit the Christmast Market (Kerstmarkt).  It is only about an hour from where we are staying in the Netherlands for our Christmas holidays.  It was a lovely atmosphere even with the added security of the armed officers whose cars blocked the entrance streets due to the Berlin Christmas terrorist event yesterday!  Thankfully once in, you don’t feel the added security  – yet I’m sure they were there.  Unlike in Antwerp, Belgium where you just feel totally creepy  the entire time – well, at least I did.

The kids enjoyed hot chocolate in little boots which they were able to take home from the Hexenhof (Witch farm). As all the 2016 cups were sold out so they requested 2017 instead of 2015.   ( Update – I ended up giving them away to the charity shop but people collect them over the years.  Imagine – two from every year – CLUTTER! 🙂


Curry worst – yucky!

We shared pomme fritte – yummy first the first few then way too much.

We stopped in a cute bar, Domkeller for a pint!  From outside it was really cute and had Erdinger Weiss bier on tap!  A score for me – especially this time of year. 

Maebh had a ride on the carousel but chose to ride on the bike!

As with all markets there are loads of cute things to buy, yet nothing you really need.




The streets were all lit up and very cute.  I love walking around taking photos of the buildings and things.

Not sure if we will visit any other Christmas Markets – perhaps today in Den Haag or Den Bosch. We will definitely go ice skating!

We popped by Eindhoven for a few minutes and had a lompia.

Maybe one day we’ll live in NL and could enjoy these Christmas markets more but for now, they are super special for us as we live in Ireland and it’s a real treat to be able to be in Germany and visit them.