The Netherlands, Sept. 29-Oct.26 2019

Celebrating my brother’s 70th birthday. Definitely a good reason for a visit.
Lots of day- and multiple day trips occurred during my stay.
Let’s take it one step at the time.
I left Vancouver on September 28, flying WestJet to Edmonton, where, upon arriving, the KLM plane for Amsterdam was already waiting on the tarmac.
A quick transfer and off we went for the night flight to The Netherlands.


October 1. A visit to Castle Amerongen. 
The theme of the visit was “Deftige Dieren” (dignified, or genteel, animals) and the purpose was to accentuate the importance of animals in those days in that noble environment.

Noble dealing with animals at Amerongen Castle from the Golden Age

From June 7 to December 1, it is animal day at Amerongen Castle every day! Because in the new theme tour Deftige Dieren the dogs, horses, cats and all other animals that once lived on the ‘Hoge Heerlijckheid’ are central.

Which animals lived on and around the beautiful Amerongen Castle and how did the noble residents deal with it? You will discover that and more during the theme tour Deftige Dieren . The tour gives a surprising insight into the animal life on the nobility Huys from the 17th century and shows, among other things, that the difference in position among people also applied to the animal world: pets were pampered and lived upstairs with their owners, the other animals at the castle stayed just like the staff downstairs.

During the tour you will be introduced to the pets of the graves and graves Van Reede and Van Aldenburg Bentinck and you will learn everything about noble privileges and traditions, such as hunting and keeping pigeons and rabbits. Even the little animals that were a daily nuisance to the residents (and the current museum), such as mice, fleas and lice, are not skipped.

A special place has been reserved for Countess Elisabeth von Ilsemann Aldenburg Bentinck (1893 – 1971), the last inhabitant of the ‘Huys’ and an animal protector of the first hour. People brought stray animals from the surrounding area to the castle, where the countess offered them a safe place to live. The many cat doors in ‘het Huys’ are still visible.
(information: Kasteel Amerongen website)

The gardens and woodland plots, surrounded by canals, reflect a development of four centuries of garden art. Renaissance, Rococo, Romanticism and the modern age.


October 2-4, Den Haag

Oct. 2
A 2 night visit to Den Haag, a city I really didn’t know. My sister and I hopped on the train in Oss and one transfer later we arrived at Den Haag central station. After the purchase of a 3-day bus pass we ttook a tram towards our hotel.
(This is a great pass. For one fixed amount one can travel unlimited on buses and trams in Den Haag and Scheveningen. A tourist’s delight! I wish we had that for our visitors in Canada).
As we were a little early for our check in at Hotel Fletcher we dropped off our backpacks in their storage room and set out to discover the city. We didn’t get back to the hotel until about 11:00pm.
The first stop was at Panorama Mesdag. I had never before experienced this and it was definitely a “WOW”! We were also lucky to see Panorama Hesjtèk # by Hanna de Haan.
Afterwards we wandered through Den Haag centre, stopped to take pictures at Palace Noordeinde.
We enjoyed a delicious Indonesian rijsttafel followed by a dessert called Tjendol at Restaurant Poentjak. Our stomachs satisfied we had a nighttime view of the Binnenhof before taking the tram back to the hotel.

Oct. 3
After breakfast at the hotel we made our way back to the hub of attractions.
We visited the Mauritshuis, had a guided tour through the Binnenhof where the excellent guide explained the workings and workplaces of the Dutch government, took the tram to the seaside town of Scheveningen, checked out the multiple statues there, walked to the Muzee, visited the Lourdes Chapel, strolled over the beach, had wine while watching the sunset and enjoyed a fish dinner in the evening before heading back to Den Haag, to our hotel.

Oct. 4
We enjoyed our buffet breakfast at the hotel, checked out and stored our bags until we were ready to go back home in the evening. The hotel was very accommodating.
The day offered a variety of weather patterns. Rain, obscuring buildings in the low-hanging clouds, sun, lifting the cloud blanket to show the shiny, high structures.
We had coffee in the Hotel des Indes, a posh place where we happened to “join” a photo session of a gathering of female ambassadors to The Netherlands. We actually had to move our chairs in order to make space for the group. No problem. It was all done with fun and grace.
We visited the Haags Historisch Museum and Escher in het Paleis. The latter is the Escher exhibition in the old winter palace of Queen Emma. Lunch at ‘t Goude Hooft and dinner at the Haagsche Bier Kluis before collecting our bags and heading for the train station for our trip back home.

De Haagse dagen waren fantastisch. Dank je Birgit


October 5. Jan Cunen Museum. Sign of the Times – Masked ball of contemporary art.
Having received an invitation to attend the opening of “Sign of the Times” we headed to the local museum to see what this was all about.
We were pleasantly surprised.


Oct. 8. A visit to Coda – Paper Art 2019, Apeldoorn.
My sister and brother-in-law invited me to a visit to Coda in Apeldoorn.
An amazing exhibit. All art made of paper, cardboard, egg cartons..
Boxes were put out for young and old to come up with ideas to fill them.
The outcome was surprising!
I totally respect people who can not only come up with the idea, but also materialize the concept.

Dank je Marie-Thérèse and Paul, voor dit prachtige uitje ♥

October 10. A shopping trip to ‘s Hertogenbosch with dinner thrown in.

A peek into St. Jan Cathedral and a walk through the downtown area and of course a Bossche bol and coffee at Hotel Central.

October 11. Paalgraven Oss
A nature walk by Maasland Gilde Oss to the Paalgraven turned out to be a deserted surprise. My brother and I braved the raindrops and rode our bikes to the designated meeting spot where we found….nobody.
After waiting a while and not seeing anybody else, we decided to see the Paalgraven on our own and go for lunch at the Bomenpark. As I had never seen this archeological find up close I was glad to get the opportunity.
On the way back home it started pouring but it didn’t matter. We had a good bike ride and a great lunch.

October 13. The Maashorst
A bike ride through nature area the Maashorst was planned for today.
It turned out to be a “on the bike, off the bike” event as we saw hundreds of toadstools, which, of course, needed to be photographed from all angles.
It was a gorgeous day and we all enjoyed it.

October 14. Castle De Haar, Haarzuilens
On the way to Haarzuilens we got slowed down by a large number of farmers in tractors.
They had been protesting for several days already.
Arriving at castle De Haar we were awed by the sheer size of it.
De Haar is the largest castle in the Netherlands, once the private residence of the Van Zuylen family, whose descendants still stay here yearly.
The castle is a show of pure opulence. Rebuilt and decorated with Rothschild family money, there were no bounderies as to what could be accomplished. In this case money really could buy anything and everything.
We joined a very interesting tour through the servant’s quarters. Seeing the luxury life from a totally different angle.

October 18. My sister’s garden and kloostertuin Velp
A stroll through my sister’s wonderful garden, accompanied by the twitter of umpteen birds, always is an invitation to relaxed photography.
Later that day another sister and my brother-in-law drove to a garden centre, already totally in Christmas mode. Fun to walk through. A drive through the countryside, and what was supposed to be a brief walk in the kloostertuin in Velp. No way! Toadstools galore and none of us carried a camera that day, just our phones. The 15 minute walk turned out to be a much longer and very enjoyable one. And the phones just had to make do!

October 19. Kloostertuin Velp, yes, again!
Do you want to go once more for a walk in the Kloostertuin in Velp, my sister asked.
Yes, of course. And 4 of us loaded in the car and went off to experience once again the magical, mysterious world of toadstools, elves (maybe), acorns, fall leaves and beautiful trees.

October 20-23.
Lahnstein, Koblenz and Xanten, Germany. A holiday within a holiday 😉

October 20.
We drove the 266 km in about 3 hours in, most of the time, pouring rain.
Arriving at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Lahnstein, it was still too early to check in so we checked out the lunch menu at the bar. Great food, good ambience.

Later we drove into the town of Lahnstein. A small town, situated at the confluence of the Lahn river and the Rhine.  Nice walk through the town and along the river Rhine.

October 21.
Today koblenz was on the program. We found a parking spot in Forum Mittelrhein and started our walk from there. A bit of shopping, a bit of sightseeing, lunch, more shopping, more sightseeing. A worthwhile and well spent day.
Later in the afternoon we drove back to the hotel, thinking we might drive back into the city for dinner later on. But then we hit traffic, heavy traffic! And once we arrived back at the hotel we decided on sauna (for one of us) and relaxing (for two of us) and dinner at the hotel.

October 22.
A special day. A special birthday and the reason for this “holiday within a holiday”.
Breakfast as the day before in the huge breakfast room with a sumptuous buffet.
Then, armed with our cameras we went back to Koblenz with 2 specific destinations in mind. The first one being the fortress Ehrenbreitstein, high above the rivers Rhine and Moselle, overlooking the Deutsches Eck where the 2 rivers meet. We saw this point yesterday from “down below” but the view from the fortress accompanied by sunny skies, was amazing. We were high above the cable cars, the river cruise ships, the hustle and bustle of the city below. Lunch on a terrace, enjoying flammkuchen in the sun. In the afternoon we headed for Schloss Stolzenfels, across the river. We parked on the street way below the castle and made our way up, far up! We were lucky to be able to join a guided tour and meandered on our own afterwards. Before going back to the hotel we drove into Lahnstein to see the town in the sun. A short walk before driving back to Wyndham Garden. Back in the hotel it was again the sauna for one, relaxing for another one and I decided to go for a walk and made it halfway to Burg Lahneck before it started to get dark. Dinner at the hotel bar again, accompanied by a good flow of birthday wine.
What a perfect day!