The Rietveld-Simbwa Family
Travelers: Elina Simbwa, her husband Olaf Rietveld, and their two children: Tessa (age 6) and Oliver (age 2). Both attend Dulwich College Beijing.
Destination: Rotterdam and Dwingloo, Netherlands
Dates: July 7-23, 2013
Travel plans: The family flew from Beijing to Amsterdam with KLM and opted for the airline’s Pearl Class, which provides more legroom. They drove from Amsterdam to Rotterdam upon arrival and stayed two nights at the Rotterdam Hotel New York (the former departure building of the Holland-US shipping line). Then, they drove to Dwingloo in the northeast of the Netherlands and stayed for a week on a farm called De Lange Beide (www.boerenbed.nl). The family booked everything themselves.
Cost: Approximately RMB 50,000 (including food). Roundtrip flights cost RMB 7,000 per adult and RMB 5,800 per child. The hotel cost between EUR 150 and 200 per night (RMB 1,240-1,650) for two nights. The tent rental in Dwingloo cost EUR 1,500 for one week (RMB 12,400).
My husband is originally from Rotterdam, while I was born in Uganda and raised in Beijing. We traveled to the Netherlands to spend time with family. Most of our time was spent at De Lange Beide, a Dutch farm in which we stayed in an 18th century style tent. My husband used to go to similar “farm camps” in Austria, so we wanted to see if they had any in the Netherlands. We found one via the Internet. It was our first time visiting Dwingloo. There were only four other families and seven tents in total, so it was very cozy.
Our accommodations were very simple. The tent was about 80sqm with little more than a stove, a toilet, a rudimentary fridge, and sleeping quarters. The showers were located in another building about five minutes’ walk away. Though the weather was great, we needed to make sure the stove was on in case temperatures dropped. The refrigerator was essentially a wooden box, which we needed to fill with ice to keep food and drinks cold. We slept in wooden bunk beds with their own doors that opened and shut; they would help us keep warm in case the stove turned itself off at night. The men took turns every morning to start the fire and get the tents warm before everyone got out of bed.
The farm was wonderful for the children. We had clear blue skies and average temperatures of 25°C during the two weeks we were there. We saw many animals, including horses, cows, pigs, rabbits, and ducks. We had a long night on the eve of our departure and were so tired that we forgot to close our tent. The next morning, we were woken up by a loud “moo.” A calf had gotten into our tent!
Every day, we would go swimming at a beautiful lake about 20 minutes’ drive from the farm. We rode the farm’s tractor wagon to get there, complete with traditional Dutch picnic basket in hand. We also got to see lots of old Dutch-style houses and boats on the canals.
There was a real quietness at night. We experienced simple living without electricity, mobile phones, computers, or even a proper refrigerator.
One starts to appreciate candles and a warm shower in such a setting. We had to do everything ourselves, but it was a great feeling finding out that we were able to manage it. Because we were with friends, it was a busy but fun holiday.
- This trip is best-suited for kids above 7 years of age, as well as nature lovers and those who would rather enjoy a simple holiday.
- There were many things to do. The farmer’s wife and family always kept the kids busy, which means parents get time for themselves as well. In the end, everyone was happy.
- The weather in the Netherlands is a bit unpredictable in June; I would suggest taking this kind of holiday in July.
- The only thing we didn’t like about the trip was the flights; it was a bit difficult having to run around with small children for ten hours.
photos courtesy of Elina Simbwa
This article originally appeared on p36-37 of the beijingkids October 2013 issue.
Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com