It is summer and our spirits are longing for an adventure. Longing to be touched by beauty, to be surprised, to be revived and invigorated. Longing to disconnect from the daily routine and simply to take the car and drive away. Should we drive north, south, east or west is always the question. East from home is located our favouring city in Germany, Aachen. South is the ever inviting Paris in France. West is our colourful London. North, The Hague and Amsterdam. Our minds made up, we quickly pack the car ready for a weekend drive away and start our trip to the Netherlands.
Our first stop is The Hague and a charming stay at the boutique Bed & Breakfast Maison Indochine. Our residence is shyly tugged away in a small antique shop street right in the centre of the city.
It doesn’t take us long to be amazed at the humble beauty of The Hague.
Art Nouveau architecture elegantly stretches along side the city centre, speaking volumes of the grandness of old days gone by. Yet, underneath its beautiful surface a much older and wealthy fairy tail begins to sing its song. We stop in front of the shop of an old violin maker, looking through the windows into two hundred years old story of passion and love. Around the corner an old antiques shop catches our eye displaying the most stunning jewellery I have ever seen. Ruby hair pins, yellow diamond ring, sapphire tiara, matching emerald bracelets, pearl earrings, exquisite floral golden broach… And then, we are not thinking of the Art Nouveau period any more, but we remember the time of the Dutch East Indies and the splendour of the riches in front of us start to make sense. Unfortunately, no rubies and diamonds for me today. But luckily, I don’t leave the antique headquaters empty handed. I buy a beautiful old print of Sir. T. Lawrence’s The Countess of Darnley’ just for five Euro, as a vivid reminder of this beautiful city.
Still dreaming of the past, we leave The Hague and zig zag our way up to Amsterdam. Only a few kilometres apart, yet the two cities couldn’t be more different. Amsterdam is so restless and claustrophobic yet ancient and charming in its own way.
Old and new, its history is written on each building, on each corner, in its food. For lunch we decide to try the best Indonesian restaurant in town the Kantjil & de Tijger. The food is a complete delight. We choose the Mangkok, served in different ways, Rendang chicken stir fry with peanut sauce, or beef in a mildly spicy coconut sauce Ajam Ritja, accompanied by Indonesian garnish: cucumber, egg, coconut sauce, prawn crackers, veggie crackers and belindjo nuts. So refreshingly tasty and good. But our journey is not done, yet.
We head for the Rijksmuseum where for hours we get lost in the age old history of The Netherlands, admiring their courage and greatness, their beauty and charm.
No one can absorb such rich history in a day, but our spirits revived we drive home with the promise to come back again.