In January we went away for a weekend with the whole family, but that was a rainy and far too short excursion. For us, this is the first real holiday this year and we have our granddaughter Esmée with us, who is already fond of traveling and vacation, even though she is not yet 4 years old. The only thing is she doesnt like to sit in the car for too long so we are not going far away.
Especially for this trip (and perhaps the travels that follow) she has got her own passport and as she says now she can now travel all over the world! The drive to our destination is only 2 hours, so that is not so bad and after a while palying a game in the car, she falls asleep so her ride is even shorter.We are on our way to Bad Bentheim where we have rented a holiday home on a mountain slope for a week. This spur of the Teutoburg Forest is very hilly and there are even real mountains with it which makes it the nearest spot where we can show Esmée a piece of a 'real' other and different.
We have prepared ourselves for a completely different holiday than we normally have, because we especially want Esmée to have a nice time and see new things. So this time I will not give in to my love of driving a lot and trying to see as much as possible, but we do it nice and quiet with less goals. After the busy months, Elisabeth and I are also ready for some rest. The weather forecasts are anot so good, but we can not do anything about that, we just will make the best of it.
We are an hour earlier than agreed, so we first enter Bad Bentheim to go to the tourist information to pick up some leaflets. This way we can see which places are nice to go. But when Esmée wakes up and sees that there is a castle, she prefers to go there immediately. Of course, every girl wants to be a little princess! Only when we promise that we will go there immediately tomorrow morning is she satisfied. She also likes the up and down streets (mountain-roads as she calls them) and it takes an effort to get her back to the car.
But once at the cottage, where we are kindly received by one of the owners, she is completely elated: what a nice house with a large garden! She quickly picked her bed and helped me to take the stuff out of the car to the house. While grandmother is allowed to make everything inside ready it is now time for her to play outside, the sun is shining and we secretly hope that the weather will be better than the predictions say.For us the evening lasts only a short time: after we have put Esmée to bed we read another hour or two and then we go to bed early. We take a rest and read this holiday a lot.
Saturday 26 April 2008, to castle Bad Bentheim and a walk through the woods near our cottageIt is only at 10 to 8 that Esmée wakes us up, normally she wakes up before 7. Although this is the only time during the whole holiday that we get up before 8 am. The sky is gray, but it is not too cold. We take it easy and only leave at noon to the town of Bad Bentheim to visit the castle as we promised Esmée.
The castle was already mentioned in the 11th century, but what you now see is mainly built or restored in the 19th century. The sister of the Dutch Queen Emma lived here and since then there have been close relations with the Dutch royal family, but also with other monarchies.
Esmée thinks it is beautiful, especially because she is in a 'princess phase' where she likes to wear beautiful dresses. And she knows exactly where the princess of this castle has her bedwoomo. She also soon fantasizes there is a witch or angry fairy and before I know it she pulls me over the steep walls ahead, on the run from the evil witch (played by grandpa Teije, of course). But when she encounters a pile of sand or gravel, it's time to play and the rest of the castle is slightly less interesting.
We can make a tour around the battlements, but also inside there is a lot to see and that fascinates her especially because of the small details such as a dragon at the bottom of the banister and a bench where the princess has sat down. But the most exciting part is the bare prison cells where the princess was obviously imprisoned before she was released. And how is it possible, Esmée finds a beautiful earring in a recess. "I have found a treasure, the princess lost it when she was saved by the prince and had to flee!" She talks about it for days and for a girl of less than 4 it is of course a fantastic find that fits perfectly into her princess fantasy.
That we then look at the princess's bedroom does not detract from her fantasy that the princess lived here both here and was also trapped in prison. Here she slept before the evil witch came and she was imprisoned. And when the fairy tale ended well, she got her bedroom back again. Strong logic, we cannot argue with that. However, she finds it confusing when more than one princess is depicted in a painting and then there is also a prince!All in all, we run more than 2½ hours around in the castle, we had not thought that Esmée would like it for so long. We have paid more attention to her reactions than to the castle itself, because we love more older, medieval castles or ruins.
We do some shopping and then go back to the house. The sun has come out in the meantime and we grab a book while Esmée starts playing in the sand. But then she suddenly wants to clamber and soon she is on the higher path behind our house. She wants to walk and so do we, so we go looking for the rock formations and ravines that should be right behind on the Bentheimerberg.
Soon we climb steep forest paths and occasionally we have to watch out for not slipping. We love mountains and for Esmée these hills are big mountains. That is exactly why we took her here, to show her something different than flat Holland. Not too far from home yet mountains, really a foreign environment. When gaps appear on the side of the path, she grabs one of us by the hand and warns that we should be careful with the ravines!
Being on holiday with a child is also a bit like looking through the eyes of the child. We now see things that we would otherwise never notice because Esmée makes us aware of them. A flower here, a bug there. And then she thinks it's time to take a rest in the sun after she has crawled over the road like a tortoise for a few minutes. So nice in the middle of the road in the sun.
Soon we encounter huge rocks that you do not expect on such a hill. This is partly because parts of the mountain were used as a quarry for the Bentheimer gold, sandstone. For example, it was used for the Palace on Dam Square in Amsterdam, and the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in New York was also made from it. And of course the castle in Bad Bentheim itself. Although it is a relatively small area we make a beautiful walk and we are back late at our house.
While Esmée showers extensively to get the sand aweay, Teije prepares a meal that is completely absorbed by her, outside air makes her hungry. Then we sit outside for a while because it is such wonderful weather. And according to the predictions it will be even better tomorrow so we look through the three folders and decide that we go to the animal park in Nordhorn. Maybe it is the last beautiful day of the holiday, according to the weather forecast at least.Also tonight we lie in bed early after a few hours reading. We have discovered that the shutters for all windows can be made completely tight, so we hope that Esmée will sleep out again tomorrow.