I probably should be writing the savings rate post for April, but I’m still too much into the whole holiday thing. Despite already being at work for three days….sigh. So instead of pretty graphs with good savings rates, you can take a look at some of the things we have seen last week. Without further delay, here is a short summary of our holiday in Belgium.
Day 1: Beach, Travel and Arrival in Belgium
Before we actually drove to Belgium, we met with friends at the beach in Noordwijk (the Netherlands). This was one of the more spontaneous actions we have done in a while. Great prelude to the holiday actually! After lunch we started to drive towards Belgium. Once we crossed the border, the holiday feeling really kicked in.
I believed it was a good idea to take local roads, rather than the highway, to have a prettier drive. Pretty it was, but boy was it a wrong decision! Forgot how poor the Belgium secondary road system is. In the Netherlands we are blessed with near perfect roads, driving abroad always reminds me of this. Apparently Miss CF agreed that the roads were poor (and winding), unfortunately her stomach did not agree! Never knew that we would be so happy to have rubber boots in the car….. But she was a good girl and aimed very well, no spills 😉 Poor kid, motion sickness is no fun!
Day 2: Alden Biesen (Belgium)
Alden Biesen is a castle located just outside the town of the Bilzen. It’s freely accessible and it’s an nice place to roam around for a couple of hours. But once we got there, there was a story telling fair for kids. We explored the various dungeons and rooms where these story telling events were about to happen and found one that had spaces left. Fortunately Miss CF could freely join in, but got bored after about 20min and wanted to run outside again. This was fine with us, so we walked through the massive gardens and enjoyed the sunshine. We also enjoyed some packed lunch in the gardens.
Holiday in Belgium: Alden Biesen – The Church
Holiday in Belgium: Alden Biesen – The Main Castle
Day 3: Tongeren and Bilzen (Belgium)
We were told by the owners of the vacation rental that the city of Tongeren was very nice to visit. We therefore got out the trusty GPS and drive down to a free parking area and went to explore the city. It’s not very big, but it does have lots of character and many very old buildings and a medieval wall (well sections of it anyways).
Holiday in Belgium: Tongeren – Main Church
We got lucky and were able to enter the Moerenpoort (a old tower at the city gate) and climb all the way to the top for a great view of the city of Tongeren.
Holiday in Belgium: Tongeren – Moerenpoort
Holiday in Belgium: Tongeren – City View
After leaving Tongeren we decided to also check out the city centre of Bilzen, another old town not far from Tongeren. But there was not that much to see and do. We therefore ended up doing grocery shopping and went home for diner (and to play with the animals in the yard of the vacation rental).
Day 4: Play Day at Edenhof, near Bilzen (Belgium)
After two days of cultural sightseeing, we decided to have a bit of frugal family fun with Miss CF. We had found a free play park called “Edenhof” near the town of Bilzen. It boosted about 30 different units including swings, zipline, climbing towers and more. Needless to say that Miss CF did not want to leave, not even after nearly 2 hours of running around! We eventually persuaded here with food (we were starving too and needed a hot cup of tea to warm up). Who ever said you need to go to a amusement park to have fun?
Day 5: Kings Day in Maastricht (the Netherlands)
We have friends that live in Maastricht. We already visited them and the city a couple of times and really like the place. It’s a very pretty city! But this day it was also Kingsday! In short, major outdoors flea markets, concerts and lots more. If you even visit the Netherlands, make sure it’s around this time, the country goes mad and orange (including me).
We first explored the flea market and met with friends whom where selling their stuff. Next we visited the St. Pieters Berg (free parking!), before heading over the our friends place for diner and more fun.
Holiday in the Netherlands: Maastricht – Pietersberg
Holiday in the Netherlands: Maastricht – Old Mining Area
Day 6: National Park Hoge Kempen (Belgium)
Due to the long and tiring day for Miss CF in Maastricht, we decided to take it easy in the morning. Which was a smart idea, as Miss CF crashed again just after lunch. About 3 hours later we still had some time for a walk in the National Park Hoge Kempen.
Day 7: Gaia Zoo in Kerkrade (the Netherlands)
We don’t have one specific supermarket where we shop for groceries. But when we found out the Jumbo was having a savings program that could provide discounts on zoo’s, amusement parks and more. This was potentially useful for a day trip, so we decided to have a look. Turned out that the program was pretty lucrative! For every €10 shopping we received a coupon for €2.5 discount on entrance fees.
In short, we did some major grocery shopping before the holidays. Stocking up on stuff we would have bought anyways. We ended up with €30 off the zoo entrance fees, which meant we only paid €27.5 to get in (over 50% discount!). This is not a lot of money for a whole day of fun. We were at the zoo when it opened at 10 and left about 6 hours later. We obviously brought our own lunch and drinks to keep costs further in reign. It was a great day and Miss CF crashed before we got to the car to drive back.
Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade – Ducks/Ibis
Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade – Wild Pig
Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade – Lioness
Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade – Rhino
Day 8: Driving home and the Swimming Pool!
No personal pictures here, but we ended up on this pool: http://www.sr-dommelslag.be/ For anyone passing nearby Overpelt (Belgium, close to the Dutch border) with kids, this is a great pool. Pretty new, got something fun for everyone and is relatively cheap.
We wanted to brake up the drive back by stopping by a swimming pool along the way. We initially looked for tropical swimming pools/water parks in holiday parks like Landal Green Parks and Centre Parks. These places charge around €11-15pp depending on your age. For us this would have been nearly €40 for a couple hour swim. That’s mad! The pool in Overpelt was only €9.50pp and kids under 4 were free! At €19 total, it was a lot more affordable.
The Holiday Cost
This is a financial blog, so we do have to review the costs for the holiday of course! Normally we don’t include food, fuel or kids items, as this goes into separate categories in our budget. Reasoning is that we would have spend most of this money anyways, regardless of going on holidays. But for sake of completeness we added them below in the holiday overview.
The holiday costs included:
- Vacation rental (7 nights): €400
- Zoo entrance: €27.5
- Swimming Pool: €19
- Fuel: €40
- Costs food / going out to dinner / cash: €138.5
The total holiday would come in at about €625. Not bad, especially considering we were aiming at between €700 and 900!
How was your last holiday? Where did you go? Did you stick to your budget?