Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Three Countries and Three Playground Day

Last week Dallas, Connor and I drove to Vaals, Netherlands. We went to a park called Drie Landen Punt, or Three Land Point. There you you can stand in three countries - Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany - all at once. It was 90 minutes from Brussels and made a fun little day trip. Dallas was a great travel buddy; we laughed and talked the entire way. The route took us poking through tiny Dutch towns and stunning countryside. The only downer was the weather. It was one of those super strange days where in the course of one day it was bright sun, pouring rain, hail, snow, and freezing cold. All in the span of a few hours. Belgium is famous for rapid weather shifts. By the time we got to Vaals it was dumping snow. So much for our leisurely walks in the woods. We were caught off guard and we both forgot our gloves!

We stood in the 3 country point for a photo....
We saw the 3 flags of the 3 countries....
And then we thought our hands were going to fall off from frostbite so we headed for the park cafe with the crackling fire to enjoy the views. We had hot chocolate and split a yummy waffle. And there was this little courtyard adjacent the cafe where there were at least 25 cats roaming around. Don't ask me why!? It was honestly a little strange. But of course Connor thought all the kitties were the "cat's meow" (sorry, that is a bad pun)!

Dallas introduced me to the world of Geocaching on the trip. There were two geocaches hidden in the park - so we were ready for the hunt. Geocaches are sort of like personal time capsules people hide randomly all over the world. There is a central place for clues and puzzles to locate these "geocaches" and people hunt them out in a global scavenger hunt of sorts using walking GPS locators. The official site describes the activity like this: "Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment." It sounded cool so I was excited to try to it. But when we made it out in the windy, snowy cold and tried to unravel the clues we realized they were nearly impossible and even if we got the puzzle solved, the clue was going to be in Dutch. So after a valiant attempt we threw in the towel. Not worth persevering in that type weather. But what a fun idea.

After our hot chocolate and kitty-cat-watching the weather cleared up so we let Connor loose on the two playgrounds at the park. The equipment was of course cold and wet, but that didn't stop my daughter. She loved the manual merry go round and of course the slides. It took some creative coaxing to get her back in the car! All in all I am glad we went to Vaals. There is probably a lot more to do in better weather. It reminded me of Umpsted Park or even a less touristy Stone Mountain with hiking trails, birds and nature all around. Plus, how many places in the world can you go and stand in 3 countries all at the same time?!? And typical of Belgium when we arrived back home it hailed on the drive to our apartment and then burst into a beautiful sunny afternoon. I took Connor to the Royal Park's playground to cap off our three country/three playground day.

* Please note that all the incredible photos in this post were taken by Dallas. I keep telling her she could be a professional and people would hire her to travel with them. I am so thankful for the sweet, wonderful shots of Connor. Thank you Dallas! What joy they bring to see Connor and our travels through your camera lens.
Click here for more Vaals photos (full album)

1 comment:

Dallas said...

I had a great time hanging out with you and Connor. Thanks again.