It’s Sunday afternoon and I need to unwind after completing my homework for the Dutch course I am attending at The Kickstart Language School. It’s a bit cloudy and windy outside (The Netherlands, you know…) but I know the perfect place to be. A hidden gem in the crown of The Hague. A magical spot full of birds’ songs and quiet paths. The green island in the urban jungle: Park Overvoorde.
The park has a multi century history. Everything started in the 12th century when the noble Overvoort family lived in Rijswijk (an area currently located in the outskirts of The Hague). Their Medieval property called Overvoorde was transformed to the abbey of Rijnsburg in 1289.
In 1623 a mansion with the shape of a coat of arms was built at the same place. It stands on a 6-hectare island with an English landscape style and a lot of old trees.
The house and the surrounding park are national monuments since 1722. A curious fact: century after century the house was inherited until 1931 when the municipality of The Hague bought the estate from its owners and inhabitants at this time – the Vredenburch’s family.
During the Second World War, several bunkers were built in the park by the German soldiers. Currently the bunkers’ area is known as the Bunkercomplex Park Overvoorde / Commandopost Rijswijk (part of Museum Bescherming Bevolking) and is open a couple of days per year.
Since I arrived in The Netherlands, I have been constantly hearing people (even myself) complaining about the Dutch nature. Or the lack of it. That’s partially understandable – there are a lot of green areas but most of them are too tame. Too tidy, too symmetrical. I always liked hiking in the forests of my country and the thing I was really missing here was a wild place where I can recharge my batteries and gather my thoughts.
Park Overvoorde was the first place I visited in The Hague as it’s located right next to my home. It was a chilly February morning after a hectic moving from one city to another. After the last box was unpacked and the last frame was hung on the wall, it was time for me to relax. To explore the area and to find a piece of mind. Ever since I am going back there again and again – for a walk, a running workout or a picnic.
No matter if you’re living in The Hague and you’re already tired from the crowds in the Haagse Bos (The Forest of The Hague) or you’re visiting this urban jungle as a tourist, it’s worth to spend a couple of hours in Park Overvoorde.
The park is charming at any time of the year. During the spring you will feel like you’re in a fairytale – the colourful explosion of the blooming Rhododendrons which lasts only for a couple of weeks in May creates a unique magical atmosphere.
In the summer you might see a whole family of ducks or swans, swimming around in one of the lakes located in the park with their small ones.
The autumn robes of Overvoorde are fascinating – you can see all the shades of yellow, orange and red within a single meadow. And during the winter you can have a peaceful walk on the empty paths while contemplating the frozen lakes in the company of the lonely but majestic blue herons or the colourful and playful rose-ringed parakeet. That’s right! There are more than 10,000 parrots of this type living in the urban areas of the Netherlands. Around the Overvoorde Park there are a couple of flocks as well. Actually, if you’re lucky enough you might even spot other beautiful and rare birds as part of the park is a bird sanctuary.
Park Overvoorde is not just a park. It is also a mansion, a bunker museum, a bird sanctuary. My favourite place to be. What else is there? You should definitely go and find your own hidden gem.
The park is easily accessible by car (you can leave it at the parking, where Kenenburgstraat meets Guntersteinweg), bike, tram 16 (stop Erasmusplein), bus 50 and 51 (stop Guntersteinweg) and even train if you feel like walking for 20 minutes from station Moerwijk. The exact address is Van Vredenburchweg 172A, 2285 SE Rijswijk.
Just start walking around and don’t hesitate to take one of the small paths that go through the grass and vanish behind the massive trees. You won’t get lost but… be careful! You might find yourself.
Marina Yaneva, Kickstart student
My experience with Kickstart has been highly beneficial in both developing language skills and improving my knowledge of the Dutch culture. Josien's support is always spot on and very intuitive in relation to personal circumstances. She spends a lot more than the official time allocated to really get to know her clients and her approach is customised accordingly. She was recommended to me by other Shell colleagues who expressed the same sentiment and I was fortunate enough to benefit from this during the time I spent with her.
Vennasa van de Ven, Migration Manager working at Shell
Entering the Kickstart school premises alone gives you a push of energy and the commitment this will help to create is hardly unmatched in any other language school. The methodology and the approach used in the lessons also helps smoothly unlock the secrets of everyday Dutch. Kickstart School has helped me get in touch with the 'undutchable' culture of the Netherlands and its people. The individual language training I could experience at Kickstart School has been one of the best educational experiences I could have in Europe.
Alessandro d’Addario, European Law Enforcement
I really enjoyed my English lessons with the Kickstart School. The teacher was professional and really knew the subject. The way they teach is also great! The classes are presented in a clear and professional manner and the online exercises completed at home are very helpful. The teacher always provided useful feedback. It's a great experience to join a Kickstart course with such a friendly atmosphere of students and teachers.
Beatriz Pedroche, Spain
Kickstart has been the ideal place for me to learn. The teachers are very helpful and friendly and have always gone the "extra mile" to help me learn in a positive way. Their teaching is practical with elements that can immediately be applied to everyday living situations. Included in the lessons are cultural aspects of living in the Netherlands that make learning Dutch dynamic and fun; you learn the language and about the place and the people! The teachers took an active interest in my progress and provided valuable customized sessions that maintained my strengths and developed my weaknesses; all in a patient, fun and friendly style.
Graeme Ting, dentist from New Zealand
My first contact with Kickstart School was after 1 month of living in The Netherlands, when I started to study Dutch. At the time I didn’t have any knowledge of the language, but with their courses organized by levels I developed important language skills and learned about the Dutch culture. They all do a great job at Kickstart because their motto it’s not just a motto – they are really pleased to teach you. You learn a language in a friendly atmosphere, make new friends from all over the world, and all in a cosy building right in the heart of The Hague.
Anca Boros, mathematics and physics teacher from Romania
During my time with Kickstart I have learned a lot and gained confidence. I was always challenged by the interesting assignments, but never too much. I have really enjoyed the classes!
Sabine de Bruijn, Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
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