Who’s seen the Heath Ledger movie “A Knight’s Tale“? Most people, right? Remember when Chaucer (played fantastically by Paul Bettany) makes him a fake patent of nobility and he becomes Ulrich von Liechtenstein from Gelderland? I always thought the place was just made up but it’s actually real! One of the provinces of the Netherlands in fact. I had a little giggle when I found out how clueless I was. Here’s a picture of me with Heath Ledger just because. He was such an awesome Aussie actor. Ok, so it was taken at Madame Tussaud’s in Sydney but still! Look how happy I am!
So anyway, this past weekend Dennis and I did some exploring of the province of Gelderland, along with Dennis’s parents. We got on motorbikes, moseyed through the land and explored some groovy little sights such as:
The hulshorsterzand is a big sand dune area between the towns of Harderwijk and Nunspeet. There is no water or beach or anything, just miles of soft sand in the middle of a foresty area. It’s a little bit surreal. As an Australian, I was mostly thinking “where’s the ocean? What’s the point of all this sand if there’s no beach?!”
It felt kind of like being on the set of a Mad Max film, or some other post-apocalypse type landscape. People come here to walk their dogs, play with kids in the sand, play soccer; we even saw a girl galloping across the flat on her horse – which was awesome!
I guess you could come here and sunbathe on a hot day. But, if there’s no water to get into as well, I’m still not sure why you would. Anywho, after our little walk in the sand (walking in soft sand is SO hard!) we continued on our way.
Restaurant Berg en Dal
Our next stop was a restaurant in a town called Hoog Soeren for lunch. But this wasn’t any ordinary restaurant, this was a pancake restaurant! There are a lot of pancake restaurants in the Netherlands (the Dutch do love their pancakes) but this is the first one I’ve actually been to. They serve other things besides pancakes, but I figured since I was at a pancake restaurant, I should get a pancake. There were a LOT of choices. Plain pancakes, pancakes with one thing, deluxe pancakes with heaps of toppings, even savoury pancakes. And these pancakes are not like American or even Australian pancakes. These pancakes are the size of pizzas!
I found it very hard to choose between a sweet and a savoury pancake (with bacon, onion, mushrooms, cheese, capsicum and egg) but I wasn’t sure the savoury toppings would work on a pancake so I settled for the ‘Strudelpannenkoek’; with apple, raisins, cinnamon, rum and warm vanilla sauce (which was custard).
See what I mean about them being the size of pizzas?!
Dennis ended up having the savoury one I had been thinking about, so I got to have a taste of his as well! It was kind of like an omelette on top of a pancake.
They were both yummy, although in the end I kind of wished that I had got the savoury one as the strudel was a little bit too sweet. I think it was the raisins. The restaurant was quite busy, everyone was sitting outside as it was nice and sunny (at that point). I really liked some of the decorations outside and the inside of the restaurant looked quite cosy as well. There were stuffed animals all over the walls!
Berg en Dal is open for lunch and dinner, and serve plenty of other main course options (not just pancakes). You can have a look at their website here. After lunch we continued on our way to explore some more of Gelderland, although things didn’t go quite as planned. One, it started to rain quite heavily, so we stopped a couple of times to shelter out of it. Then the navigation system Dennis’s dad was using kept sending us to the wrong place when we were trying to get to our next destination. After a bit of riding in circles we finally arrived – and the sun came back out! – at Radio Kootwijk.
Originally constructed to transmit Morse telegraphs, the building came into operation in 1923. Later used for telephone transmissions, there was a large community of workers living in and around the radio station. The architecture is quite interesting: it had to be built out of concrete to prevent fires and the architect Julius Maria Luthmann was apparently inspired by both Egyptian architecture (the building looks a bit like a sphinx from the side) and German expressionism.
Above the front door is a relief depicting a mask with an open mouth through which radio waves exit, flanked by two female figures listening, a European and an Eastern women, symbolising the connection between the East and West.
At the back of the building is an eagle above a big arched window; the eagle symbolises the freedom of the radio waves in the air, the flight of sound. Both reliefs were designed by Hendrik van den Eijnde.
Nowadays the radio building is used as a venue and scenery for cultural events and productions. Parts of the 2004 American film “Mindhunters” was actually filmed here, and the entire movie was filmed in the Netherlands (although the film’s plot takes place in America, weird). I’d never heard of it before doing some research on Radio Kootwijk, but it stars Christian Slater, Johnny Lee Miller, LL Cool J and even Val Kilmer; so I think I’m going to have to check it out!
We had planned to also visit a chateau, but ended up deciding not to. But hey, at least we can still go see it another time. We stopped off in Blaricum on the way home for ice cream. Technically this is no longer in the province of Gelderland (it’s in the province of Utrecht) but it won best ice cream salon of the year for 2016 and we usually go if we’re nearby!
IJssalon de Hoop
I’ve previously written about visiting this ice cream parlour before, but it wasn’t as busy this time as usual, so I was able to get some better photographs than before. Even though it was no longer very sunny or warm, it was still doing a brisk trade. I had my old favourites, banana and coconut flavours.
We were even able to get a seat outside which has never happened before, this place is usually really busy! They had cute little seats made out of old milk pails, and even this adorable little child-sized bench.
That was the end of our little ‘gallivant’ through Gelderland, but there are still quite a few other interesting sites I plan to visit another time. What about you, have you ever visited anything cool in Gelderland? Or did you not even realise it was a real place like me (at first)?!