We started our trip to the Netherlands on a ferry from Dover to Dunkirk, which was as fun as it sounds – especially at half past six on a Monday morning! Then we began the long but worth-it drive through three different countries. We stopped off in Bruges for chocolate and bread, which I thought would be the only reason we were going, but our dad tried to amuse us with the ancient city. I didn’t find it interesting at all, but if you like awkwardly built massive houses from the 1600s and, most importantly, chocolate, then this is your city. Bruges was the last place we visited until we got there.
‘There’ is one of the best places I’ve been to on holiday. It goes by the name of Center Parcs De Eemhof and is packed with some high-adrenaline activities plus stuff like saunas and Jacuzzis, the latter both in our apartment!
My favourite part of the holiday was the Rapids, a lazy river that’s had too many energy drinks. It uncontrollably pulls you and drags you screaming down endless waterfalls – and then when you think it’s all over shoots you out like a bullet, and you come out either crying or laughing and wishing to do it again.
Another waterslide I enjoyed was the Turbo Twister, whereby you know you’ve made the wrong choice as you step into your rubber ring and are sucked down at full throttle until you come to a funnel that makes you feel like a two-pence coin in a charity box before spitting you out.
Another one of the many activities we tried is wakeboarding, which is basically snowboarding on water, being pulled by a boat. We were on the boat all geared up and ready but I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to go – the Dutch water looked threateningly cold. When at last it was my turn, the crazy instructor practically threw me in – to surprisingly warm water. He then sorted me out and I was wakeboarding! My brother, Patrick, was quite good, but that does not seem to run in the family – I kept falling into the water.
After this humiliation we went over to an activity I’d never heard about, Flo Rider – like bodyboarding on a continuous wave. As with wakeboarding, I was rubbish but still enjoyed it thoroughly. Then, after thrashing my older brother at tennis, we played ‘midget’ golf, and my younger brother managed to whack a ball so hard it could still be in the air today.
Centre Parcs Eemhof was brilliant, but we also managed to fit in a trip to Amsterdam, where we visited the hands-on Nemo science museum, which was good fun. I would recommend the whole holiday to anyone – young or old – so long as they have lots of energy!
Joe's Dad’s Take:
I smashed the world record for the number of adventures down the Eemhof rapids during a mid-week stay and the boys made sure I had one or more new descent-time personal bests each day. Outside the pool complex, a highlight for me was chasing after Dan (six) on his bike on endless bike paths in and outside the Center Parcs grounds.
Getting to Center Parcs De Eemhof is either a 3.5-hour drive from Calais or 1.5-hour drive from the Hook of Holland. Since you don’t need a car once there, visiting by public transport is also a reasonable option. As in the UK, the accommodation is of different sizes and degrees of luxury – we stayed in the lovely new marina apartment complex.
My sons have visited two of the English Center Parcs and were amazed at how similar the pool complex is at all three. The Center Parcs concept originated in the Netherlands, so we can’t take credit for that. What differs most if you go to De Eemhof is that you’re sharing the holiday primarily with Dutch, German and French families. We were surprised at how few Brits there were, especially given the proximity and the value that Center Parcs Europe offers.
Read more about and or book a family break at Center Parcs De Eemhof.