The 16 century fortress of Bourtange can be found in the Northern Netherlands in the municipality of Westerwolde, just east of Stadskanaal, close to the German border.
William of Orange ordered the fortified pentagon to be constructed as a result of the ongoing Eighty Years’ War between the Dutch and the Spanish. He wanted to suppress the Spanish who, at that time had managed to acquire Groningen and much of the northern territories.
Most of the buildings in Bourtange were built between 1645 and 1666, but by the 20 century not much remained. Reconstruction in 1972, means that the fortress is reminiscent of Bourtange in 1742, at its biggest.
Apart from the fort at Bourtange there are a variety of things to do and see. There is the village, with its restaurants, a traditional old style hotel,
souvenir shops, museums and some enjoyable walks in the surrounding area. Once a year there is a spectacular re-enactment of the Napoleonic fights of 1814. With cannons booming, hundreds of participants all dressed in the traditional dress of the day and carrying authentic weapons, re-enact the fight as soldiers and civilians.
Bourtange is also open for groups, school groups (for which they have numerous educative programmes available), and it is even possible to get married there.
The fort can be visited the whole year round. For more information the on site information centre is open weekdays from 09.00 – 17.00 and in the weekends (summer season) 11.00 – 17.00. Tel: (0599) 354 600.
Here’s another idea for the summer. Ever wanted to get a bird’s eye view of the Benelux from the clouds, whilst sitting in a straw basker> Well, for the brave at heart, how about taking a flight in a hot air balloon with family or friends?
Greetzz is a company that offers hot air balloon flights with numerous different ‘take off’ locations throughout the Netherlands and Belgium. Or should you wish it you could arrange your own flight destination from start to finish. If you fancy seeing Groningen or any of the northern provinces from a different angle, or to venture further afield, Greetzz are happy to accommodate your wishes.
With experienced, certified, professional pilots you can be assured of not only a safe but also an enjoyable flight. Each round trip flight lasts around an hour and includes a Champagne toast whilst ‘onboard’. Photos are always taken during the flight as a memento.
Tickets for a flight are all inclusive and prices start from: 1-6 tickets for € 160,00 per ticket. There are discounts for bigger groups. For a child’s flight a ticket costs € 99,00.
Should a balloon be a little on the slow side and you are more of a speed freak; Greetzz also offers flights by helicopter. They have a range of different helicopters, the sppeds of which vary from between 150km – 250km per hour, depending on which helicopter you choose. This will guarantee a smile on your face!
For more information or to book a flight visit their website: www.greetzz-ballonvlucht.nl (Dutch).
Greetzz can be also reached by email/phone: firstname.lastname@example.org/013 531 3540
Landal – Stroombroek (NL):
For a short break from the hustle and bustle a few days at one of the Landal GreenParks is perfect especially if you have children. We tried one at Stroombroek in Braamt not far from Arnhem.
The park has self-catering houses of varying sizes, and in some even pets are allowed. The secure nature of the park means that it is a children’s paradise. They can go off and enjoy themselves whilst you can stretch out in the sun with a book. Mascot, Bollo the Bear is on site every day and kids can make the use of go-carts, swim, play mini golf, go bowling or just jump up and down on a large bouncy cushion. Every day there are also different organized activities to choose from.
At Stroombroek there is a large lake with a small beach and the possibility to water-ski. The staff at the Greek style information centre, Palestra are very friendly and helpful. There is also a little shop where you can buy essential items as well as warm bread rolls early in the morning. Should you not feel like cooking there is a large restaurant with a reasonably priced buffet on site. For adults there is the sauna and beauty salon offering every form of relaxation and pampering you can imagine.
© Alison Day
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