2023 was a fantastic travel year for our family. We ticked off some bucket list experiences on our 2023 travels. Besides bucket list trips we had lots of day trips and weekend getaways in the Netherlands. Some day trips and vacations were in other European countries. So here’s our 2023 in review.
We started the new year in Ooij, at Fletcher-Restaurant De Gelderse Poort. Our balcony had a good view of the fireworks that started the new year. We arrived home the 2nd day of January and left again on the 6th for a family weekend getaway. Going to Landal Mooi Zutendaal with my parents and sister and her family. It’s a yearly tradition, that we had to skip in 2021 and 2022, but were able to do again. We went to Belgium this time and had a lot of fun together. We visited the bug museum at Lieteberg on Sunday.
In the 3rd weekend of January, Paul and I went to the Amsterdam Light Festival. We did a boat tour, that guided us on a tour to see all the art works. The lit-up art works were all beautiful.
On the 22nd Paul and I had lunch at De Watertoren restaurant in Utrecht. It was my Birthday gift (my Birthday is in December). The restaurant is in the top of a water tower and you have a 360° view on Utrecht. The food is superb.
I love visiting the Rijksmuseum, and each time I explore a few rooms I haven’t been to before. On the 11th I went again, and explored some rooms on the ground floor. After my visit I went shopping in Amsterdam and Utrecht to get the winter gear we needed for our trip at the end of the month. At the end of the day I had over 24000 steps!
On February 25th we went on our epic trip to Rovaniemi in Finland. The first bucket list experience of the year. I had this on my list already for a long time. It was as fantastic as I hoped it would be. We did a snow scooter safari, a reindeer safari, a Northern lights safari (and got to see them!, so second bucket list experience down), a husky safari (already on Paul’s bucket list for a long time) and visited Santa at his office at the arctic circle.
On the 1st we flew back home.
On the 11th of March I was again at the Rijksmuseum, we had tickets to go to the Vermeer exhibit. It was fantastic to see so many paintings from Vermeer together.
A couple of days later, Paul and I went to Oorlogsmuseum Overloon (Warmuseum Overloon), which is about the Second World War.
That weekend we celebrated Yuri turning 13 with friends, family, lasergaming and cake. On Monday I went to Amsterdam to meet up with a friend. Paul and Yuri joined me in the afternoon, to have one night at The Arcade Hotel. It’s a hotel where there are several consoles in your room and others in the common room. Paul and Yuri loved it. At the end of the month, we had two more outings. We went to Museum Huis Doorn, the castle where the German emperor went into exile after the First World War. We also drove the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinieroute (New Holland water defense line route), our first road trip of the year.
We did a lot in April. Road trips, museums, tulips and a theme park were all done in this month.
The first day of the month we visited the Black Tulip Museum in Lisse. Which tells you all about the history and making of tulips in the Netherlands. The next day we did the tour at Museum Speelklok in Utrecht, we’ve taken the tour many times before and still love it. The museum is about self-playing musical instruments.
On the 4th we went to Amsterdam. We walked through the center and followed part of the tour with tulips of the tulip festival. We also visited the Scheepvaartmuseum (Maritime museum), which has a beautiful courtyard and ships you can visit inside.
After 3 museums it was time for a small road trip again. We drove the Groene Hart route, which is not that far from our home and meanders through the middle of the Netherlands.
At Easter we went to Akkrum in the province of Friesland. We stayed ay Hotel Goerres, situated near a river. On Saturday, Paul and I drove the Friese Merenroute and on Easter Day the Friese Havenstedenroute. Both road trips we had done before, but they show a variety of Friesland.
On the 11th we explored Etten-Leur. Etten-Leur is a town in the province of Noord-Brabant.
In the middle of the month we went to Duinrell, a theme park in Wassenaar. We spent the day there with Paul’s sister and her family.
The 17th Paul and I went again to Amsterdam. We visited other parts of the tulip festival and very touristy of us, but we took a canal cruise. It was fun seeing Amsterdam from a different point of view. We try to drive the Flower Route each year since 2021. This time, sadly, there were less flower fields in bloom. On the 19th we drove one last small road trip before going on our one-week road trip. We drove the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinieroute, this time with the trees and orchards with beautiful blossoms.
South Netherlands Road Trip
The last week of April we had our first longer road trip. We toured through the South of the Netherlands, and stopped at Made, Tilburg and Weert. At each stop we stayed 3 nights. In Made we stayed at Fletcher De Korenbeurs, which is in the middle of the village Made. We started our road trip at the Bollenstreekcorso and then drove to Made. We used Made as our base to visit Vliegend Museum Seppe (Flying Museum Seppe), which is a small museum in a hangar with airplanes.
In Tilburg we stayed at the Mercure hotel, which is in the city center. We’re regulars there. We used it as our base to go to The Gaming Factory, De Pont Museum, the movie theatre and to celebrate Kings’ Day. Our last stay was at Fletcher Hotel Weert, close to the train station and the city center. We went to Museum W, about the history of Weert. We ate lots of vlaai (pie), since Weert is the vlaaien city of the Netherlands.
On the first day of May our road trip came to an end.
May was again a month full of short trips. We had a short car tour we love to drive from Utrecht to Hollandsche Rading to the Loosdrechtse Plassen and back. Sitting down at a few restaurants we love, such as Woods35. We got to do this 4 times this month.
I went to Den Bosch twice to go shopping on a Saturday. Once with a friend and once with Paul.
We went to Corpus in Leiden, a fun museum that guides you through the human body. The building is also designed as a human body.
Although living in the Netherlands my whole life, I never visited the Anne Frank huis in Amsterdam. We changed that on the 13th, and went there together with a friend.
On Mother’s Day we had a luxurious breakfast at restaurant Vroeg in Bunnik. The 17th we explored Etten-Leur again, this time on e-bike. It was our first experience with e-bikes and we had fun.
We had a long weekend getaway ay Fletcher Hotel De Holthurnsche Hof in Berg en Dal. It was Ascension Day on Thursday, so perfect for a long weekend. On Friday we went to pancake reastaurant De Heksendans. In the afternoon Paul and I went on e-bike to Groesbeek and loved it. On Saturday we went to Oorlogsmuseum Overloon, they held the event Militracks. All on military stuff, with military jeeps and tank demonstrations. On our way home on Sunday we stopped at Theehuisje Milsbeek.
Back home we went to two museums; the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden. In the latter we attended a book presentation of Cleopatra’s Daughter.
We ended the month with a short road trip. We drove the Achterhoekse IJssalon route. A route that connects several ice cream parlors.
Another fun month with lots of day trips. We started with the Italy event at Castle de Haar. We did a gondola ride, went on a small Ferris wheel with a glass of prosecco and bought and tasted a lot of yummy food and drinks.
On the 17th we visited another castle, this time Castle Amerongen. We did the tour and learned more about the castle’s history. The 9th we went to the city of Hindeloopen and went to the Eerste Friese Schaatsmuseum, all about ice skating in Friesland.
The 10th we went to JumpXL in Amersfoort with Yuri and a friend. They really wanted to visit, despite the heatwave at that moment in the Netherlands. They had fun. The heatwave continued and we still visited Aviodrome. The aviation museum was almost deserted due to the heat.
We drove our regular car route Utrecht-Hollandsche Rading-Loosdrechtse Plassen twice in June.
Each year we visit the Efteling, a Dutch theme park, with Paul’s parents. It was fun and hot. On Father’s Day we had Korean bbq for lunch in Utrecht, which was delicious.
The weekend of the 24th and 25th was all about cherries. On Saturday the 3 of us went cherry picking at Nieuw Slagmaat. It was our first time with a u-pick cherries and we had fun. On Sunday Paul and I had a cherry high tea at a cherry orchard in Bunnik. All the food had cherries in it, so delicious.
At the end of the month we went to the Fabrique des Lumières in Amsterdam. We went to the Dalí/Gaudí experience, an immersive experience with their art and the music from Pink Floyd. We had some apple pie at Café Winkel 43.
The heatwave was over in July, and so was the beautiful weather, so we had our high iced tea at Anne & Max in Utrecht inside.
A week later we went to the maps exhibit at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam. Paul and I both love seeing old maps. The day after that Paul and I attended the Aviko Workshop on a farm close to Zeewolde.
Summer Road Trip
On the 10th we embarked upon our 5.5 week Summer road trip, this time we did a Southern Balkans road trip. In 5 days we drove to Montenegro, stopping in Siegburg (Germany), Salzburg (Austria), Lesce (Slovenia) and Zadar (Croatia). First stop in Montenegro was Risan. There was a heatwave, with temps of around 40°C/104°F, so doing a lot was out of the question, but we did get to visit the Roman mosaics museum in Risan. Second stop was Kotor, on the way from Risan to Kotor we stopped in Perast. A beautiful town on the shores of the bay. In Kotor we went to the cat square and cat museum. We made a speed boat tour on the bay of Kotor. Stopping at the Lady of the Rock, submarine tunnels and the blue cave. From Kotor we drove to Tivat, our third stop. We visited the submarines and the yacht harbor in Tivat.
After Tivat we left the ay of Kotor and stopped at Sotonići. We went on a boat tour at the Skadero lake. I did a ‘bucket list’ thing, kind of, getting of a boat into a lake and back on the boat again. Never done that before. I was super clumsy doing it, but I did it.
Then it was time to enter Albania, a new country to us. First stop in Albania was Shköder, were we had our first introduction to Albanian customs and culture. We went to the Rozafa castle, which towers out over the city of Shköder. The second stop in Albania was Krujё. There we visited the castle of Krujё and the museum present on the castle grounds.
On the last day of July, it was time to say goodbye to Albania and enter North Macedonia, another country new to us.
We started August in the beautiful city of Ohrid in North Macedonia. Staying in Ohrid for 5 days and still did not get to see and do everything. We strolled through the city center and undertook 2 whole day tours. One that got us driving through Galicica National Park and with a boat on the Prespa lake and hiking on snake island. The other tour was with a boat on lake Ohrid. Stopping to swim, visit Trpejca, Sveti Naum and Holy Mother of God Zahumska.
After Ohrid we drove to Greece. We stayed in the town of Kalampaka for 3 days. Which is at the foot of Meteora. Which are monasteries on top of rocks. I had these on my bucket list for a really long time, and they are so beautiful. Really worth the time and drive.
Then it was time to turn around, Meteora was as far South as we would go. We entered Albania again on the 9th. Stopped at Syri i Kälter (The Blue Eye), a lake with crystal clear water and a natural spring. We stayed 2 nights in Sarandё, to celebrate Paul’s Birthday.
In 2 days we drove to Cavtat in Croatia, stopping for the night in Ulcinj in Montenegro. In Cavtat we stayed 2 nights to take one day of rest, before embarking on the almost 2000 kilometers/1243 miles home. We did that in 3 days, stopping at Karlovac (Croatia) and Nürnberg (Germany). We drove a total of 6000 kilometers/3728 miles on this road trip.
After the Road Trip
We undertook 3 more trips before the month ended. We went to a u-pick Summer apples at Nieuw Slagmaat, the Barbie movie at a rooftop cinema and to the Marinemuseum (Navy museum) in Den Helder.
Our annual weekend in Losser, staying at B&B De Hooimoat, was from 8 till 10 September. We went to Tuckerville, a music festival. Sadly, it was the last edition of the festival. On Sunday we drove home via Manderveen for strawberry and blackberry u-pick.
During the week in the evening we attended a show by Herman van Veen at the Stadsschouwburg in Utrecht. A Dutch performer that is one of our great national performers. His show was good.
On the 16th we went to another fantastic festival, however a different kind of festival, because WTF stands for Whisky Tasting Festival. We met up with friends at the festival, had fun and tasted some great whisky’s. On Sunday we had our annual apple, pear, pumpkin and kiwi berry u-pick at Nieuw Slagmaat. A fruit orchard close to our home.
The next weekend on Friday I went to Amsterdam and met up with a friend. We went for a walk through some neighborhoods and a park in Amsterdam. On Saturday Paul and I met another friend in Utrecht and went to the Kaasbar (Cheese bar) for lunch. They have cheese plates rotating around. Then on Sunday we drove all the way to Steenbergen in the province of Zeeland. We delivered a whole lot of books to someone and had lunch on a small island.
At the end of September, I went shopping with a friend in Maastricht. We try to go to Maastricht once a year. Paul and I went to the Rijksmuseum van Volkenkunde (anthropology museum) in Leiden. They had an exhibit on Maps and one on Easter Island.
October started with a family reunion. We went to Hullie in Uden and all my uncles, aunts and cousins from my mother’s side of the family were present.
On the 5th Paul and I went to Amsterdam in the evening to be in the public of Humberto, a late-night talk show with Humberto Tan. One of the guests was Within Temptation, who also gave a performance. It was a first for us, attending a live talk show, it was fun.
At the 13th I went to the Van Booijmans to Beuningen exhibit at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. A last visit to the Rijksmuseum of the year.
Yuri loves cats, so on the 14th we went to Kat & Bakkie in Utrecht. It’s a cat café and Yuri loved it. On the 17th Paul and I attended Pretty Woman the Musical at the Beatrix theatre in Utrecht. It was a fantastic musical.
We ended the month with a baking day at my parents with my sister and her daughters. We do a baking day together at least once a year.
In November we went to a bunch of cool things. On the 7th we went to the Nationaal Militair Museum (National Army Museum) in Soest. We saw the movie The War to End All Wars by Sabaton. A Swedish metal band that produced and made a movie about the First World War with their songs.
On the 10th we were back again at the Nationaal Militair Museum, this time for the night shoot of an F16. We visited the museum a 3rd time that month to see the movie The War to End All Wars a 2nd time.
Halfway through the month we went to the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (Museum of Antiquities) in Leiden. We visited the exhibit Het Jaar 1000 (The year 1000) and attended the book presentation of Moord ende Doodslag.
On the 18th all 3 of us went to Fabrique des Lumiéres in Amsterdam to see the Cosmos immersive experience. Fun, but not as good as the experience with paintings.
The last weekend of the month we had a weekend getaway in Vierlingsbeek, staying at B&B De Vier Linden. On Friday we went to the Spaghetti Buffet and evening opening at Oorlogsmuseum Overloon in Overloon. The story of one American soldier during the Second World War is told in 5 to 6 short shows. On Saturday we had a proeverij (tasting) at the restaurant of the bed & breakfast. On Sunday Paul and I celebrated 19 years of marriage.
We started the month of December with a visit to the Christmas markets in Oberhausen, Germany. We went by train and loved the markets, despite it being cold.
On the 6th we celebrated Sinterklaas with a friend and gourmetten (raclette), and on the 13th with my parents at a pancake restaurant.
That weekend I had a lot of Christmas events planned, but alas I was sick with a fever. Paul did the Aviko Online Christmas Workshop on Friday. Going to the Christmas market in Haarlem with a friend and to the Christmas market in Utrecht with Paul, I, sadly, had to cancel.
In the 3rd weekend of December Paul and I went to the Winter fair in the Ahoy in Rotterdam, and watched the movie Wonka in the cinema.
On the 8th we went out for dinner with Paul’s parents and a friend for my Birthday, which is on the 20th. On my actual Birthday we celebrated with the 3 of us, with cake and sushi. The 21st I went shopping with a friend in Den Bosch.
The 4th weekend was a long weekend. On Saturday we visited the Intratuin in Duiven to see the Christmas show. A really large show and beautiful. We also had the high tea buffet, which was delicious. Christmas’ Eve we spent at my parents. On Christmas Day we had brunch at Paul’s parents and hen drove to his sister in Germany. On the 27th we drove home again.
In the last days of 2023 we baked oliebollen at my parents-in-law and we celebrated New Year’s Eve at Fletcher Hotel De Teugel Uden.
So that were a lot of day trips and road trips, with some pretty epic things in 2023.
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