Caloundra, Australia

What are your favourite places in Australia and the Netherlands? As a Dutch Australian who has lived my life between the two countries, I’m sharing a few of mine.

One place that is very close to my heart is Caloundra, on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. I was born in Brisbane and my family then moved to Maleny when I was 9. From there, we did trips to the beach in Caloundra now and then as I was growing up.

With a population of around 50,000 Caloundra is small enough to still have some charm but large enough to have all the facilities you may need if you holiday there – or if you’re lucky enough to live there.

For a while, my parents lived in the suburb of Little Mountain though have now moved to another part of the Sunshine Coast.

Caloundra boasts several beautiful beaches: Kings Beach, Golden Beach, Moffat Beach, Bulcock Beach, Shelly Beach and Dicky Beach – all wonderful places to spend a day all year round. I remember wonderful evening sunset picnics at the aptly named “Happy Valley” which is adjacent to Bulcock Beach.

For more information:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caloundra

https://www.visitsunshinecoast.com/Caloundra

Here’s a few of my favourite photos, mostly taken at Bulcock Beach


Have you been to Caloundra?

-Renee

2018 Zomervakantie – Day 5 Reuttener Seilbahnen

This is post is part of our 2018 Zomervakantie – for an overview of the whole two weeks, visit: https://dutchaustralian.com/2018/08/15/2018-zomervakantie/

We had a relaxed morning at the lodge and then walked for a short distance to the Reuttener Seilbahnen.

Our accommodation gave us a 50% discount card for the return journey making it around 30 euros for a family.

What a delight at the top to hear the cowbells as we stepped out of the cablecar! Then to discover a fabulous obstacle/experience course for families – they encouraged you to take your shoes off (which we didn’t) and walk over different surfaces such as sand, grass, gravel, water and dirt. It really was a picturesque scene to be high in the mountains, watching families just enjoy walking together.

There was a choice of three restaurants/cafes near the peak, we walked downhill a little and chose one that ended up being very family friendly….neat kids “alpine lounges”, a trampoline and a few animals including bunnies and shetland ponies. We shared a tasty apple strudel and had some “worst” (sausages) for lunch. The garnish came as a surprise, I thought it was grated cheese and put around a large spoonful in my mouth – but it was a kind of spicy cabbage I think!

I’m really glad we talked the girls into walking down the mountain instead of the cablecar. It took us around an hour and a half, and was quite challenging on my hips and knees, but was a really lovely experience. Not only was it a gorgeous sunny day, with lots of wildflowers in the fields, you get a real sense of satisfaction looking back on a huge mountain and realising you walked the whole way down!

Afterwards, we were quite tired, so took an afternoon nap. Around 3.30pm we decided to go back for a swim in the lake, at the request of our youngest. On the way there, we saw a lot of cars parked alongside the river leading to the lake, and people all along the banks so we decided to join them instead. We talked to a local lady who said so many people were out this afternoon not only as it was weekend, but it was the warmest the river water had been since around 2003 (at about 22 degrees). It sure felt colder to me and I didn’t swim, but Bas and the girls actually swam across the river, which was a decent distance but with a very mild current. Again, we were surrounded by majestic mountains and the water was glorious shades of blue and green.

Back to the lodge for dinner – leftover pizza from last night! We were joking that it was crazy to be eating pizza in Austria when we were headed to Italy tomorrow…..

Now, we’re all writing our journal entries, me as this blog post, the girls in their diaries. The lights are twinkling on the nearby mountain tops, illuminating the local castle ruins. We didn’t make it to those but perhaps next time. On to day 6…

More information:

2018 Zomervakantie Day 4 – Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles

Almost 15 years ago, my husband proposed to me on a walking path overlooking Neuschwanstein Castle. Today, we took our children there! We didn’t quite make the exact spot – the girls were hot and tired, and it was very crowded with a queue to get over the bridge to walk further up the mountain. However we had a very special day visiting both Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles.

Both are VERY popular, and being here at the height of the tourist season meant that we hit the crowds as soon as we parked. However it’s all well organised, and my husband was smart to prebook our castle tour tickets online. We still needed to actually pick up the tickets but that queue was much shorter. In fact they warn that tours often book out so if you do plan on seeing these castles, book ahead and plan plenty of time.

We had a 10.55am tour for Hohenschwangau first, and had to pick up the tickets by 9.55am at the latest in the ticket office in the small town. This went quickly so we then spent some time hanging out at the lake.

You can take a horse and carriage ride up to both castles which did look fun, but because of queues, cost and concern for the horses working in the hot sun all day, we decided to walk. To Hohenschwangau, it took us around 20 minutes, it’s quite steep but manageable. This is the “yellow” castle and is where King Ludwig lived as a child. The tour takes around a half hour and is offered in different languages – our English guide was friendly and explained things well, he’s probably done this hundreds and hundreds of times! The facts and dates are all a bit much to absorb, but as you can only visit the castles on a tour, it’s necessary to follow along – in this castle there are around 25 per group.

Next we walked up a steeper slope to Neuschwanstein, stopping for an ice cream along the way, so it took us over half an hour. It was also one of the hottest days of the year, hitting 31 degrees.

The girls enjoyed seeing the castles but were understandably quite hot and tired, and weren’t very enthusiastic when Bas wanted to walk further to the spot overlooking the castle where we were engaged back on 24 August 2003. We headed in that direction though and he surprised me with a lovely necklace and earrings.

We discovered what I think was a mountain biking path back down to the village, and this was lovely and quiet compared to the masses of tourists on the main pathway. It’s a beautiful forrest that surrounds the castles, and there are many walking paths through this national forrest. We noticed that one of the lakes had dried up significantly but the trees were still lush and green.

Though Bas had hoped for a boat trip on the lake like we did 15 years ago, we were all too tired and headed back to our lodge for a rest. We stopped at a supermarket on the way to get some dinner and then “chilled” as the girls call it. I sat on the balcony for some time in the evening and watched satellites cross the sky, some lighting across the horizon behind the mountains, and even saw one blazing shooting star.

2018 Zomervakantie Day 3 – Lichtenstein castle and the Austrian Alps

This is post is part of our 2018 Zomervakantie – for an overview of the whole two weeks, visit: https://dutchaustralian.com/2018/08/15/2018-zomervakantie/

We left our apartment this morning and before heading for Austria, went to check out another nearby castle, Schloss Lichtenstein. I had actually never heard of it, but it’s lovely! In fact people may confuse it for the more famous Neuschwanstein, which we are visiting tomorrow. Arriving quite early, we bought a ticket just for the grounds. If I ever return, I’d like to see inside this castle as well.

This was a designated travel day though, so we pile back into the car to head for Austria! We laughed at some of the place names along the way – my personal favourite was Gogglingen. Again, the girls pleasantly surprised us by being great travellers. Bas had first done a bakery stop so we had food along the way!

Then, we entered the “Tirol” region in Austria. We noticed they were actually doing border checks in the opposite direction and there were long queues of cars. In our direction, things were clear, and Bas had done some great research to even be able to take a parrallel road to the main highway that was even quicker.

We arrived in the beautiful Austrian Alps accommodation a little early at 1pm – check in wasn’t until 2pm and they were still cleaning.So we drove for around another 20 minutes, passing another castle along the way with a long suspension bridge that I would have liked to try, but no way was one of our children doing that she said!

More amazing research by Bas, we went to a lake he knew was nearby, where the girls had a wonderful time snorkelling for a couple of hours. Bas also swam and I read a book in the shade and just took in this stunningly beautiful location.

Back to check into the lodge, which is very spacious. Popular as a ski lodge in winter, and for hikers in the summer, it’s a charming old-fashioned Alpine apartment at a reasonable price of around 120 euros a night.

Look at this amazing view, where I could finish my medieval book, with castles on the mountaintops in the distance!

Bas and I enjoyed a drink on the balcony, I tried some Schnapps tasters but could only handle small sips, even with these tiny bottles – these things are 40% alcohol!

We’ve found that our accommodation so far in Germany and Austria has had beer glasses in the cupboard as standard! ;). He tried a local beer, and see below for the amusement of having whole kegs in the supermarket!

Isabella has taken a real interest in my DSLR camera and it’s been fun teaching her to use it, she was keen to try it out on the colourful local gardens. A short walk took us to a lovely view over the village where we are staying.

We’re here for 3 nights and it’s a lovely, peaceful place! Some noise from other tourists, but not too bad. Disappointing that the man downstairs seems to chain smoke, which drifts to our balcony, polluting this gorgeous pure mountain air! Apart from that though, this is a wonderful place to stay and looking forward to spending a few days here.

More information:

2018 Zomervakantie Day 2 – Hohenzollen Castle

This is post is part of our 2018 Zomervakantie – for an overview of the whole two weeks, visit: https://dutchaustralian.com/2018/08/15/2018-zomervakantie/

After day 1 mostly travelling from Den Haag, we booked two nights in Reutlingen, Germany, so that we had a day to explore.

For breakfast, just a few minutes from our apartment, we discovered bread heaven! I’m not a big bread eater but this stuff is amazing! We tested a few different options, all delicious.

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We packed up some for lunch and headed for Hohenzollen Castle, around a 40 minute drive from Reutlingen.

This place is amazing!

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We headed back to Reutlingen and my eldest and I went to check out the shops . Don’t you love localization of fashion?

And lots of traditional style buildings:

Feeling pretty carb heavy, I made a simple vegetable stir fry for dinner.

On to day 3….

More information:

10 things you probably didn’t know about the Rijksmuseum

Art historian Tea Gudek Snajdar offers special Saturday Art Tours for expats and internationals living in the Netherlands. ‘My idea is that art is here for all of us to enjoy. It shouldn’t be exclusive or understandable to only a small group of art critics. Everyone should be able to appreciate it. That’s why I started to organize these small intimate art tours in some of the famous museums in Amsterdam’.

In this video, Tea shares 10 things you probably didn’t know about the Rijksmuseum.  Are they all new to you?  Or maybe you knew some already? Join one of Tea’s tours to learn more

http://culturetourist.com/tours/tours-workshops/art-tours/

-Renee

An Alternative City Guide to Amsterdam

The wonderful city of Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and this is for very good reason. It seems that everybody has been and has their favourite places to go, but there are a few fantastic alternative places that tourists or newbies to the city are not so familiar with. These hidden gems show the real heart and soul of the city and are, typically, much quieter than the busier areas.

Whether you’re a tourist or an adopted local, there are plenty of “best-kept secrets” dotted around the city for you to uncover.

Food

Food is a key part of any vacation and Amsterdam has many great eateries. Here are a few of the best spots in town.

Mazzo – Head here for the best authentic Italian food in Amsterdam. It has a relaxed and cool vibe inside with a stylish interior, but it is also affordable too. In addition to the food, this is also a great space for drinking in the evening.

The Butcher – You can’t beat a good burger and the burgers at The Butcher are the best in the city. It may not look like the best, but this place stays open late and has a high-end speakeasy cocktail bar at the back – but shh, don’t tell everyone!

Rotisserie – This Brooklynese bar serves up tantalising chicken dishes and delicious burgers in a friendly and welcoming setting. They also have take-away if you want to enjoy your meal out in the streets or settle in for a cosy night at your hotel.

Food Hallen – A converted tram shed with dozens of cool food stalls and bars – Food Hallen is one of the newer and trendier places in the city and is extremely popular with the locals.

The Sea Food Bar – Craving seafood? The Sea Food Bar is the best place for fish and there are 2 restaurants in Amsterdam (you may want to book in advance, or have a drink at the bar whilst you wait).

Omelegg – Head here for breakfast. They only serve omelettes, but they are the tastiest omelettes you have ever eaten! Well worth the wait.

Nightlife

Amsterdam is famous for its brilliant nightlife and there are many excellent venues no matter what type of mood you are in. Generally speaking, the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein areas are the most fun and have a handful of vibrant and fun pubs, bars and clubs. De Kroon in Rembrandtplein is a local favourite and free to get in, whilst Jimmy Woo is a swanky place if you are out for a fancy evening.

Beer

Beer lovers will adore Troost, which serves amazing burgers along with its very own craft beer. There are two places, both in the city centre.

Neighbourhoods

Part of Amsterdam’s charm comes from simply wandering the streets and popping into the local stores and cafes. The best neighbourhoods to do this are the very picturesque Jordaan, and the trendy De Pijp neighbourhood where there are plenty of vibrant bars, cafes and restaurants – this is authentic Amsterdam. Gerard Doustraat is a street worth visiting with a number of cute shops and a friendly atmosphere. To get the most out of your trip, it is worth booking into a hotel near the city centre, like CitizenM, which allows you to get out and explore the neighbourhoods each day.

Art

The city is well-known for its thriving art scene, but it doesn’t stop at just Rembrandt and Van Gogh. A great way to discover some of the alternative masterpieces on show is to take the Street Art and Alternative Walking Tour, or by checking out the independent art galleries, like Aschenbach & Hofland. You should also keep your eyes peeled for any art exhibitions happening during your stay, as this is a terrific way to immerse yourself in the local scene.

Can you add to this list?  Please comment below!

This is a guest post by Alexa Cobbold.  Alexa lives in a little village just outside of York, England and works in PR and Digital Marketing with a number of brands across the globe. Outside of work she loves photography (Instagram has become a little bit of an obsession…), getting out in to the countryside, buying way too many housewares and spending far too much money on photobooth photos.

A Successful 2016 Keukenhof Season

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LISSE — Keukenhof ends a wonderful 2016 season with 1.1 million visitors. The visitors appreciated the flower show and rated it with an 8.9.

The most beautiful spring garden in the world is satisfied with this result. 2016 is the third consecutive year that Keukenhof has attracted over 1 million visitors. The beautiful, cool spring provided 8 weeks of flowers in full bloom.
The increasing number of visitors to Keukenhof is partly the result of a rise in the number of younger visitors. They experience Keukenhof more as a trendy park for a fun day out among the flowers.
Visitors came from more than 100 countries. Most notably, the number of visitors from France and America increased. China and Southeast Asia remain as emerging markets.

Despite the large number of visitors, the traffic flow around Keukenhof was good this season. In 2016, Keukenhof in cooperation with her partner Arriva, had more than 200,000 visitors who travelled using public transport.

The Keukenhof theme for 2017 is Dutch Design. Keukenhof expects Dutch Design to add inspiring events to the flower park, together with new partners.

Keukenhof is open in 2017 from 23 March to 21 May.

http://www.keukenhof.nl/en/

 

Best Family Holidays Near Melbourne Australia

Whether it’s a day at the Australian Tennis Championships, the Cricket, the AFL, NRL or even the occasional State of Origin match, sports are one of Melbourne’s favourite pastimes, but sometimes that’s not what your family wants to do with their holiday. Within a couple of hours drive from Melbourne you will find some fun outings to cater to the whole family.

Before you go

Before leaving for your journey, have your car serviced to save yourself from having any unexpected expenses on your trip. When travelling abroad, most people know how important travel insurance is, but not everyone realises the importance of making sure you have sufficient auto coverage when going on a domestic excursion. Finding an affordable Australian provider might take some research and car insurance quote comparison, but it could keep you protected for things like rental vehicle excess, ski insurance, travel delay reimbursements and more.

Geelong

Geelong is based approximately 75 km from Melbourne’s Central Business District and the general Geelong harbour area has had a major makeover in the last few years. There are a number of reasonably priced accommodation options on the waterfront, from 4-star hotels through to B&B’s. Take your walking shoes and experience the harbour front first hand. You might even throw in a fishing line and give your kids a fishing lesson. Nothing beats fresh fish and local restaurants will be happy to cook up your catch. If fishing is not your thing, sample the award-winning local seafood.

Aqua Orbs Fun Park: A great spot for all the family is the Aqua Orbs Fun Park on the Promenade of Eastern Beach. Close by is The Carousel — a restored American carousel from the 1800s with hand-carved wooden horses. There are 104 bollards along the waterfront, representing Geelong’s history.

Bollards

Photo of Geelong’s Bollards by aussiegall via Flickr

Werribee

Not far from Geelong, you will come to Werribee (32 km from Melbourne’s CBD), which is famous for its free range zoo and largest gorilla exhibit in the world, according to zoo.org.au. You and your family can also get involved with the Adopt an Animal program. If you are feeling very adventurous, September through June, you can stay overnight at the zoo through the Slumber Safari option.

Werribee Mansion: A 19th century Italian style architecture built in 1877, according to visitvictoria.com. It is surrounded by 10 hectares of gardens, the Mansion Hotel and Spa and the Victoria State Rose Garden, which houses 5,000 roses. Entry to Werribee Park is free.

Werribee Mansion

Photo of Werribee Mansion by >littleyiye< via Flickr

Bellarine Peninsula: The Bellarine Historical Society will give you all the history you need to this fascinating place. Bellarine is surrounded by Port Phillip Bay and south to Bass Strait. This is a water lover’s dream with everything from surfing, scuba diving, fishing, snorkelling and beach walking. There are local wineries and award-winning restaurants and cafes.

Bellarine Peninsula

Photo of Bellarine Peninsula by sneetchbeach via Flickr

This is a guest post for Dutch Australian.