The brink of Dwingeloo
Dwingeloo Travel Blog› entry 2 of 4 › view all entries
My husband Rens is very interested in stars, planets and the universe, so he wanted to visit the Planetron, which is a planetarium in the northern part of The Netherlands. The main reason why this big planetarium was built in a low populated area out of the way, is because there is less ‘pollution’ from street lights and houses here. As a matter fact, the area around the small town of Dwingeloo is one of the darkest places in The Netherlands.
Since Dwingeloo is also described as one of the most charming small villages of The Netherlands, and located next to a very beautiful national park where we could do some hiking, we decided to make a weekend out of it.
After arriving in our hotel in the nearby town called Spier (Best Western Hotel De Woudzoom) and unpacking some of our stuff, we immediately hop back into our car and head out for Dwingeloo. The weather is quite bad, it’s grey and rainy, but we decide not to let that spoil our afternoon.
We drive straight to the centre, which in Dwingeloo is actually a ‘brink’. The Dutch word ‘brink’ is best translated as ‘village green’.
A village green is a common open area within a settlement. Traditionally, a village green was often common grassland at the centre of an agricultural settlement and it was used for grazing. The village green of Dwingeloo is surrounded by trees and it has a pond that was used for watering sheep before they were led out to the heath land.
There are also some large ‘zwerfkeien’ (Dutch for glacial erratic) on and around the village green. These are pieces of rock that can range in size from pebbles to large boulders. There are a couple of these boulders around, just like in other areas in the northern part of The Netherlands. They have been transported by glaciers and they are one of a series of indicators that mark the path of prehistoric glacier movement.
After we’ve had a couple of drinks in one of the café’s that are right next to the village green, we check out the historic buildings that are also lining the same village green.
There are also a couple of beautiful old farms with thatched roofs, one of these roofs is even being renewed that afternoon. Another sight is the 14thcentury St. Nicolas Church, which has an onion shaped tower. In front of this church is a statue of ‘de Juffer van Batinghe’ (the miss of Batinghe). In the 18thcentury, the daughter of the havezathe of Batinghe (havezathe was an important nobleman in that area) would drive by the church which was being built then. As she drove by on her horse, she would flirt with the general contractor, who couldn’t keep his thoughts with his work because of this enticing young woman.
Later that evening we have dinner at an old Saxon farm from the beginning of the 19thcentury. They only serve typically Dutch pancakes, which are made by a legendary, forty year-old family recipe. The farm is beautiful and very atmospheric, the pancakes are to die for.
After dinner we leave for the nearby Planetron. The program starts at 20:00, but since we have to be there to confirm our reservation at 19:30, we have plenty of time to watch the small exhibition. There are some small parts of rockets on display and some pictures and explanations of the universe.
At 20:00 we can enter the large blue dome, which is set up as a small movie theater. There are projections of the universe on a dome shaped projection screen. An expert shows all sorts of groups of stars (like the big dipper, for instance, which Rens and I could never identify before), some planets and what they look like through a large telescope and the Milky Way.
We are then led to the huge professional telescope the Planetron has. The entire group of people (about fifteen to twenty people) are allowed to watch through the telescope, but unfortunately the cloudy weather prevents us from having a good look. The projections on the dome gave us an excellent idea of what we might see through a telescope like this (a planet would still be tiny because it’s so far away), so it’s not a huge disappointment.
It was all very intriguing and we leave for our hotel very satisfied with all the new stuff we’ve learned.