As my friend Lorie said, Brooks and Mia were living their best lives this week!
We spent the majority of this week in the Netherlands at a theme park outside of Amsterdam called Efteling.
Efteling – almost none of my expat friends have heard of it and none of Brett’s coworkers had heard of it either; however, the reviews on it were fabulous! The lowest score on Trip Advisor and other booking websites was a 9 and in the reviews people just raved. Combine that with a prolonged visit with Pam, David and their two kids and we were amped up for the trip as much as the kids were!
The plane ride to Amsterdam was short and sweet. Princess Mia did spend a fair amount of time lamenting the fact that she didn’t care for her window and the view was not to her liking. She was also quite vocal about her dislike for having to put up her tray table at take off and landing.
Constant chatting from Mia and readjusting her headphones or changing what she was watching for the whole 1.5 hour flight time. I looked across the aisle and Brett was sitting peacefully with Brooks – earbuds in, eyes closed – while Brooks quietly played on his iPad. I called dibs on Brooks for the plane ride back!
Baggage took forever and Mia and Brooks chased each other and rolled around on the floor while we pretended they weren’t ours.
Slight delay at the car rental place meant increased craziness from Mia and Brooks who chased each other around poles and kept knocking over our suitcases or accidentally hitting each other in the face. Onlookers were equal parts amused and horrified.
We’d promised the kids McDonald’s if they would just keep it together for a bit longer so we navigated around Amsterdam until we found one that was somewhat on our way.
Driving a new car on the other side of the road in a country where English isn’t the first language with kids screaming in the back. Oh, and did I mention the rain? Yes, it rains in Scotland but it’s more of a slightly enhanced drizzle. This was rain-rain. Like thunder rain. Something we haven’t seen in a year! Mia passed out after eating one nugget.
The car’s sat nav gave us the choice of a scenic route – showing that it was 5 minutes longer than the fastest route. “Sure,” we said. “That will be lovely,” we said. It was NOT just 5 minutes longer. More like 30. Although we did cross the river on a very small ferry in which a woman was driving a tractor with her two daughters on her lap. I thought those sort of things were only seen in Texas…
When we were finally close to Efteling, we stopped at the only recognizable grocery store nearby for necessities (wine & beer): ALDI.
I’m not a fan.
It’s one of those shops where you have to put in a pound/euro to get a cart and guess who didn’t have any euros yet. Brooks and Mia both grabbed one of those glorified arm baskets that have wheels and a pull so you can roll it on the ground. Then they proceeded either to hit themselves in the face with it or each other. Brett and I were both so frustrated at Brooks for what we thought he did that a gentleman came up to us and told us that he’d seen the whole thing and that Mia was the cause of her own meltdown. There also wasn’t any bottled water that wasn’t carbonated. What gives ALDI??!
Back on the road and a short detour later, we pulled onto the Efteling grounds and saw Pam, David and crew as they were walking towards reception. Brooks went nuts. He and Sophie were screaming at levels that most likely sent dogs into a tizzy for miles – probably concerning the bus load of people behind us trying to get into the park.
It was a grand reunion with lots of hugs. 🙂 Except from Mia who wanted nothing to do with David and was a bit unsure about Pam but instantly decided that Sophie was her new best friend. Typical drama queen. I even got a hug from Alex without any bribing! What a difference a year makes!
We rented a holiday home in the Bosryk Holiday Village that was just superb for two families. Two masters, two kids rooms, two bathrooms, and two toilets – I say it this way because both toilets were in their own little separate room, apart from the rest of the bathroom kit. The kids rooms had twin beds, bunk beds, a little table with games and their own little bag of dice and play pieces. Good sized living area, eating area and small kitchen with a large dining table outside on the patio. The light in that little Danish house was superb for evening pictures and I capitalized on every moment I could. Mind you, these aren’t staged. The kids were sitting there reading the stories of Mr. Sandman – already overcome with Efteling magic.
Prior to your stay at Efteling, they send you a video showing Mr. Sandman getting ready for your visit. He leaves a night cap for each child staying at the property. The kids were so excited to put them on!
We had dinner on the property and the kids were delighted that Mr. Sandman came to each table to chat. Except for Mia, of course. She’s not a fan of facial hair.
We’d hoped to be able to listen to Mr. Sandman’s bedtime story after dinner but sadly he only told them in Dutch – damn near impossible to catch onto – so the kids played with water pumps and on small rope courses and watched in wonder at the ducks roaming the property.
It was a late night for everyone but we were up bright and early for our full day at Efteling. It’s a huge park but not overwhelming. Like most things in Europe, I’m learning, it is artfully designed with nature at the forefront. There were beautiful streams and families of ducks swimming and hopping about on land. Gorgeous greenery, no wild bright primary colors – soothing neutrals with lots of aquas and greens.
After we emerged from the last ride of the day, it was pouring outside. We tried to wait it out but the rain didn’t seem to be going anywhere so we trekked back to our holiday home in the downpour.
My kiddos were wiped out. They pretty much put themselves to bed that night and weren’t quick to rise in the morning. Same went for the adults!
At breakfast the next morning it started to rain. Hard.
Never fear! Now that we live in Scotland I typically travel with rain jackets and wellie boots so we raced to the car, threw on our rain gear and then made our much drier way to the park. I was so proud of myself. Naturally, about 10 minutes later the rain stopped and the sun shone on us the rest of the day.
Note that Alex is absent from a lot of pictures on this day. Poor little guy was so tired and just wasn’t having it. Pretty much all of the kids were on the verge of tears the whole day but they were troopers!
Brooks was going nuts about riding the wooden roller coaster again and Brett promised to take him.
“Hey! Why don’t I get to go?!” I asked.
“Oh! You want to go? Be my guest,” Brett said with a smile.
I happily waited in line with Brooks and climbed into the little car next to him the whole time thinking about how much fun it would be and how I hadn’t been on a roller coaster in forever.
Turns out that now I’m just old AF and roller coasters are the devil. All my jiggly bits jiggled the whole time and my brain felt like it was banging back and forth between my ears. So, I hope Brooks continues to love them because he’ll have to go with Mia when she’s old enough. I would have much preferred to stay with Mia and helped her find leaves and trash to put into the cannon (a cannon trash bin that went boom every time something was put in it).
Brett had a big ole smile on his face when I came back.
One of my favorite memories from this day is Brett telling Alex that he was going to call the ride operator and tell him to slow down the ride for Alex so he wouldn’t be scared. After this little scene in which the ride conductor allegedly asked Alex to stand on one foot and hop in order to slow down the ride for him, I was busying myself with Mia’s antics when I heard something you don’t typically expect to hear in line for a kid’s ride:
“STOP LICKING ME AND PULL YOUR PANTS UP!”
Said by David to Alex.
I’m laughing even now as I type this!
Pics from a few more rides…
The last bit and the kind of central part of the park was the Fairy Tale Forest. NOT A VILLAGE, DAVID! Basically, there was some kind of representation of all the fairy tales in this forest walk. Some were talking trees, others were big productions… we didn’t get to see the whole thing because the kids had reached the point of no return.
Mia was a hot damn mess. We were sure that she’d fall asleep the second we got in the car but noooooooooooooo. Little miss stayed awake chatting and fighting with her brother the whole way back into Amsterdam.
We stayed close to the airport so that we could catch our morning flight but as with everything we’ve experienced in Europe, kids were thought of. This was right next to the open restaurant so the kids could play while parents enjoyed a peaceful meal.
The whole way back home from the airport Mia kept saying that she didn’t want to go home! She either wanted to go back to the hotel or to the holiday house! Me too, baby girl!
Brooks had a birthday party right when we got home and then played outside with his friends for the rest of the day.
Sunday was Father’s Day and the Aberdeen Highland Games. Brooks, Brett and I went last year when Brooks and I made a quick trip over for Brooks’ entrance exam into Albyn. Sadly, there were no owls this year but the kids had a great time.
They damn sure were living their best lives this week!