EVEN taking into account the natural high that simply being away from the daily grind gives, if you come home from a holiday giddily contemplating not just a return visit but a permanent move, it’s a fair indication that you’ve had a good time.
The Netherlands has much to recommend it as a holiday destination, and not just for the city breaks with which we in Ireland mostly associate it; it’s got scenic seaside towns and great beaches too, with nature reserves and networks of paths threaded through the miles of dunes that protect the low-lying interior from the North Sea.
Then there’s the Dutch attitude of we’re all in this together. This is manifested in practical terms in comprehensive public transport, a general air of calm (we heard a car horn blown once in 10 days) and courtesy, often extending to downright cheerfulness, at the business-customer interface. Given that few outsiders speak Dutch and so are accommodated by Dutch people speaking (usually excellent) English, such friendliness is no small thing.
Consideration for all comers is evident in everything from architecture (public housing and amenities don’t, it seems, have to be poorly designed after all), to under-12s traveling free on buses and trains, to purpose-built cycle lanes everywhere you go.
All of which, to cut to the chase, makes it a safe-feeling, family-friendly and hassle-free place to spend your summer hols.
We spent most of ours in Duinrell, a holiday and amusement park on the coast southwest of Amsterdam, about 10 miles north of The Hague.
By holiday and amusement park I mean, firstly, a large continental-style campsite of the sort you get in France and elsewhere: static mobile homes of various styles and sizes, along with pitches for tents, touring caravans and camper vans, plus bar, shop and restaurant facilities, kids clubs, organised activities that you can avail of or not, and heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools.
With me so far? OK, now add a theme park, complete with roller-coasters, rides, slides, trains, planes, trampolines, pinball machines, candy-floss stands and chips – with mayonnaise, naturally, this being the Low Countries.
Though efficient and sensible are words applicable to the grown-up, real-world Holland, within the confines of Duinrell two other adjectives suffice: epic and awesome.
Ah now, that’s all very well if you’re nine, you might say, but surely a campsite amalgamated with amusements is a recipe for bankruptcy?
Actually, no, the nice people at Duinrell have thought of that (those Dutch…). So, when you book a holiday there, unlimited entry to the adjoining theme park and access to the rides and amusements is included. Prices overall compare favorably with campsites throughout Europe.