Beekse Bergen Safari Park, Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands

Yesterday the kids were off school (it was a planned day so not sure if they were striking as I read on the internet but they had the day off and we needed to do something outside of the home). The weather was nice (about 14 degrees and sunny – celsius – we’re not mad). After doing a bit of searching for something fun to do outside, I remembered the Beekse Bergen Safari Park which is about 11 miles from our house (but driving it’s about 30 minutes. I know you can go the back roads, but I find the highway much easier.

When we arrived the main gate looked a bit like Disney World – and I actually thought it was closed at first, but then decided to follow a few people who drive into the main gate area and glad we did – we had a fantastic day out!

There are various ticketing options available including tickets only to the Safari park or only to Speelland (which was still closed for the season) or a combi which is entry to both! As we now live nearby, it hard to justify spending €24,00 p.p. for me and the two kids to visit the park once when we could get a YEAR LONG pass (called jaarkaarten for both parks for €62.50 each. Just attending three times in the course of a year, pays for itself. We do still have to pay for parking but instead of €9. it’s €3 and in mid-March they are running an offer buy 10 tokens, receive 2 free – so we’ll do that. I also received three booklets with coupons for 50% off entry tickets to other attractions like Blijdorp in Rotterdam, Apenheul, Zoopark Overloon, Aquazoo, Dierenrijk, Klimrijk and Aquafun at Sportium and Icefun at Sportium in Den Bosch and a lot more discounts including food in the park.

There are four ways to see the Safari park. 1) Self-driving in the car through the free-roaming animals. 2) On a bus which stops at various spots allowing you to see the animals. 3) By boat, which is seasonal so closed yesterday. And finally 4) by walking in the park (safely on paths of course. So with our new cards printed, we set out to visit the park. We agreed to first drive through the animal park.

As we started to drive into the park, I was telling the kids about the only one other time I was in a self-drive safari park in France where lions and bears were able to come up to the car. Here there were cheetahs free roaming but in the grass resting. Inside the park behind a cage, there were jaguars – but they all look alike to me 🙂

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Of course, there were zebras and giraffes and camels and deer – the gentle animals all roaming around and able to come near the cars.

Happily the lions were not able to walk up to our car but within distance to see them.

At 3:00 pm, we watched the Birds of Prey show on the far end of the park – which was cool. Unfortunately it was 100% in Dutch, so we didn’t quite get the whole thing but we’ve been to a few of these shows, we get the idea. Plus we were there to see the beautiful birds, right. My favorite was the owl – he was cheeky.

There is not a bad seat either, as there are two bird handlers so one guy walks at the top of the viewing area so the birds fly over each section.

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Throughout the park are playground areas for kids with slides, large jumping pillow and these wooden obstacle courses with ropes, which is prefect with kids full of energy. Our kids LOVED them…

There were other animals which we saw like rhinos, hippos, monkeys, goats. I personally found it comical there were black bears and otters sharing an area. The place is really big so I’m sure we missed some animals. Now that we have our annual pass, we can return again soon.

Apart from a snickers bar we bought at the vending machine, we didn’t eat anything but there are some places for meals and snacks in the park. Next time we’ll have an ice cream oh and claim our free churros from our discount booklet which we discovered when we got home. 🙂

Overall it was an awesome day out and we look forward to future trips and visiting Speelland when warmer. Two afternoons a week they get out of school early at 12:30 pm, so will surprise them by going straight from school as we’re already half way there.

Here are some tips:

  • Dress in comfortable shoes and in layers.
  • Drive into the safari and then you can easily park at the top of the park in the Congo.
  • Bring your own food if you want to save money.  [Unlike some parks, here you can bring your own lunch/drinks/etc]
  • Parking is €9.50 but they run deals where you buy 10 tokens you get 2 free! With your membership – it’s less than this price – but I’m not 100% the exact amount.
  • There is a holiday resort being built so consider staying in the park – camping, safari lodges, and something really cool called a JUNGALOW are available.
  • Try your best in Dutch, but everyone speaks English and their website translates into English too.
  • If you plan on visiting more than 3 times in one year, buy the jaarkart!

Daf Museum Eindoven

Yesterday the kids and I headed to Eindhoven to first visit some museums as our Museumkaarts arrived in the mail this week. First up, the Daf Museum and then if time and S’s toe (which is infected) was okay then we’d stop in the Philips Museum for a quick visit, though we did that museum before so not such a big deal.

For some reason Peggy Sue, our navigation lady on my phone, was not too clear and somehow I took a few wrong turns (probably just me reading the map wrong but easy to blame her) but we were diverted and ended up at the Van Abbemuseum which M and I visited last year. We ended up figuring it out and finally reached our destination.

In the future, you can easily park on the streets nearby and pay the meters but for us part of the adventure is taking the Dutch train into the city.

When you first arrive the kids are given a pencil and type of scavenger hunt which keeps them entertained through the museum. Then when finished, you bring it back to the gift shop to get a small gift – which was wooden yoyo’s.   As it was 100% in Dutch, they managed to get most of the answers – great for practice but at the same time they got a bit bored with it, I started filling in answers.  Didn’t matter – they still got the wooden yoyo’s which was great as that saved me from having to buy them something else.

The museum was nicely done and if you are a car aficionado, this place is for you!  Loads of history and cool stuff.  Here the kids found a truck which they really liked!

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This next section is especially for my father – thought he’d like to see all these items in the workshop.

 

 

Soren likes cars, but truthfully after about 20 minutes they saw enough.  They prefer more interactive museums where they can touch and do things.  Next time we’re heading to a children’s museum or science museum where they can interact with things.  There are so many museums which you get free entry with the museumkaarts.

I think they’ll enjoy the Nationaal Militair Museum in Soest – a former US Air Force Base.

The NEMO in Amsterdam is a big on one our list – but I want to spend all day there.  I think during the half term break, I’ll take the kids up to Amsterdam and spend the night in hotel.

Ijsboerderij op de Nieuwekampen, Vinkel

For the second day in a row the kids visited a farm with their class and as I have a big car and nothing but free time til my class starts, I volunteered to drive and join them.  It was a lot of fun. Not only that I’m there for my kids, but I can learn a lot of Dutch too – which I did.  This time we visited Ijsboerderij op de Nieuwekampen in Vinkel.

We learned:
Baby pigs = biggetjes
Moeder varken = Zueg  (and there are Super Moeders – can’t seem to figure out how one becomes that 🙂
Father pig = bear
Female farmer = Boerin 🙂   I also learned about insemination of the pigs and how they are fed and raised and then slaughtered.  Not too far from us is a pig slaughter house were we often see the large trucks full of pigs going there.

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Look at this cute bigetije.

The kids had some free time to play on the tractors and the milking cow.

After a slide show and explaination of how the farm works and how the pigs are kept, born and live, the kids were brought into make ice cream – ijs.   Each child first got to take part in measuring the cream, sugar, chocolate, etc and then it is poured into a machine to first heat it to kill bacteria and then cool.  Later we all had a lovely ice cream.

The girls made ice cream. First each had a part in the measuring and then later had a taste.

They have little shop which was closed when we were there, but it had loads of little treats to buy and of course, ice cream!  They have kids birthday parties and other events.  You can find out more about them online.

 

Kinderboerderij De Bossche Hoeve, Den Bosch

The kids are settling in well here in the The Netherlands. As expected the language goes quickly and the kids are picking up so much Dutch each day.   On Wednesday, I joined them and drove them  +3, to the Kinderboerderij De Bossche Hoeve which is not to far from their school. It is nothing fancy like Davis Farmland but rather a simple, well-run urban farm where schools and families can visit while in the city.  It’s still early Spring so they were very busy putting together equipment like a new slides and pavement, etc.

The nieuwkomersklaas of 13 kids learned about the animals, fed them and enjoyed playing for a bit after some hot chocolate inside.

They have an albino peacock, along with some turquoise ones, but unfortunately it didn’t open it’s feathers while we were there.  First photo is mine but the second is from the internet web search.

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Entry is FREE so you can support by donating cash into the box, buying feed and Soren and I bought 6 eggs which we ate for breakfast the next day.

Location: 
Kinderboerderij De Bossche Hoeve
Kruiskampsingel 565A
5224 KL ‘s Hertogenbosch
Telefoon 073-6233592

Opening times & more information: 
https://www.facebook.com/bossche.hoeve

Thursday, they are visiting a pig farm in Vinkle where they’ll learn about the pigs and make ice cream and if lucky, taste it.

There are several kinderboederij’s in the area, which we will also explore in time.  This website has a handy list and information about each one.

https://www.kidsproof.nl/DenBosch/eropuit/kinderboerderij-dierentuin-dieren

 

Newgrange Farm: Meath, Ireland

Today I accompanied Maebh’s Senior Infants class to Newgrange Farm in Meath, Ireland.  We’ve been having a great stretch of weather and then of course, their trip day the forecast called for rain. We set out from Dublin in the rain but fortunately while it was pouring rain in Dublin, we were dry at the farm.

The kids went from station to station including play areas, hold a chick, cuddle a kitten, pet a rabbit, milk the fake cow, feed the ducks and silkies, cuddle a black lab puppy, take a ride in a wagon being pulled by a big tractor etc. Still not quite the same as an American farm and far from Davis Family Farmland, but still good and perfect for kids ages 5 & 6!

All the photos below are just of Maebh….. due to school privacy policy, etc, I didn’t take any photos of the other kids.

Based on how much Maebh had with her class, I know together both our kids would love to return as a family so that will be on the list of places to visit.  28. for a family of four – it’s a good value for a day out.  We could pack a picnic and stay all day. Easter appears to be a popular time to visit this farm, so if we’re not away next year, we’ll keep it in mind.

Ibiza: Cala San Vincent

Today we stopped over at one of our favourite beaches.  Located towards the north of the island, you’ll see it on the map.  For some reason this area attracts a lot of Italian families.

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It was a wind from the North so it was a but chilly but when the sun returned it was better!  Clearly the kids are not bothered wearing just his shirt.   In case you are wondering, it is only May so the warmth you get in the summer is not yet arrived so that is why there are not many people on the beach.  

We had to make a stop in the Dutch bar – Chill Out On the Beach.  One of my other  favorite places.  Of course, full of Dutch but then again, my entire in law family is Dutch so I don’t mind it and helps with mine and the kids’ understanding of the language.  Soren is really trying to speak more Dutch!   Never know, we might end up living there one day.

Oh and there is a really good looking Dutch guy who works there so that is always a plus!