I love old castles and I love meandering through them and imagining what life was like back when they were built for the Nobels and Royalty who lived in them during the middle ages. I've been fortunate to be able to visit a few old castles over the years and I wouldn't trade the experiences for anything in the world.
My first visit to a castle was in Edinburgh, Scotland. We vacationed there in the summer of 1970 because my stepmom's sister was married to a Scotsman and we went to visit them. Great Britian isn't a huge island, but I remember that drive, from the little village we lived in just north of London all the way up north to Scotland, as being a long one.
The Edinburgh Castle was awesome and my clearest memory of the day we spent there, and in the Princess Street Gardens, was the HUGE fireplaces located in a few areas on the ground floor of the castle. They were so big that you could stand up in them with plenty of room overhead.
The floors were worn smooth from the hundreds of years of being trodden upon and the rooms were big and drafty, and very cool even though it was a hot summer day outside. I could almost imagine how freezing cold it must have been in the winter months.
Kasteel Hoensbroek in Limburg, The Netherlands.
Marion, Herman, and I, sitting on the drawbridge at Kasteel Hosensbroek.
Castle Hosensbroek was a combination of old and newer. They added onto it in the 1700's (I think) so when we toured there was a point where it seemed we stepped out from one era into another.
In the older part of the Castle were the huge rooms, massive fireplaces, and dark and damp rooms. James even visited the dungeon but since I freak in closed, dark places, I stayed to stay where there was more light. This castle had something that other castles I've visited didn't have, they had an indoor bathroom! I expect it was added long after the castle was built and didn't amount to more than a dark little cubbyhole with a bench seat and hole that went down to the dungeon. Actually, it was much nicer than the old outdoor toilet's I've been in!
The newer part was more elegant and decorative. There were drapes and tiled fireplaces, wonderful old furniture, and windows.
We only toured the grounds of Castle Arcen but what wonderful grounds they were. They have every sort of garden imaginable so, as you wander, you can from a simple Japanese garden into a quaint English garden. There were rose gardens, tropical gardens, and water gardens. While we were there they were having a Koi auction so we stopped to watch for a bit. Some of those big, ornamental fish sold for more than most folks earn in a month.
This Castle is in the town of Stein, where we were staying with our sweet Soony and her parents, Herman and Marion. This view is of the newer part of the Castle and during the time of our visit in 1995, it had been converted into a rest home for nuns. When I visited in 2004 it had been converted once again into apartments, and because Soony's in-laws lived in one of them, I was able to visit it again when we went for dinner there one night. The apartment was absolutely beautiful!
The older part of the castle is in ruins but is still on the grounds.
Valkenburg Kasteel ruins
We only saw this castle from the street below. It sits atop a bluff overlooking the city of Valkenburg, where the shopping is great by the way.
Now, for some fun stuff. I found this site a while ago where you can take a tour through a castle. All you have to do is type in your name and give your castle a name, click on the drawbridge, then follow the little mouse.