We traveled to The Hague from Aalsmere floral market. The Countryside was very flat with windmills dotting the landscape. I nearly caused Lyn to swerve the car when I exclaimed seeing the first windmill. The amount of wind in the Netherlands was evident from seeing the windmills turning. We even saw a field of birch all growing in the same direction.
The Hague, capital of the Netherlands, has an elegance about it. It is, in fact, a royal city. There are palaces along with embassys from many countries. The Hague is also known for its peace and human rights commitments. There is even a peace palace, The Vredespalais.
We had planned to stop by the Central Train Station, but we couldn’t find it. The signs disappeared that we were following and our navigation wasn’t helpful. The Hague is a combination of old and new. Centuries old buildings lining the canals with tall buildings in the distance. The buildings in the center of the city were very innovative. Architects seem to get their way…
Our hotel, once a large palace, sat at the end of a park lined with stately homes and establishments in both directions. It must be very pretty in the spring and fall. The park was beautiful in winter too. With no leaves on the trees, we could see sweeping views across.
Hotel Des Indes (pronounced “Hotel ‘Days’+’Ahn’) gleamed. The hotel is a warm yellow and the front entrance gleams from the polished brass revolving door, lanterns and other accents. Formal doormen greeted us. One took our car and luggage. The other stood holding the door and pushed it as we went through. We walked underneath the flags of the United States, the United Kingdom, Holland and Belgium.
Once inside, a sparkling chandelier in the foyer led us up to the registration area which consisted a desk with efficient-looking (blond and very Dutch looking) attendants. Each guest was comfortably seated (a nice change from standing in line). They said things like, “It will be very wonderful to have you for the length of your stay which will be no more than two nights, yes?” “You will leave your luggage here because your room involves steps. Come, I will show you.” “Should you wish to have high tea or afternoon tea or your dinner, please let me know so that I can notify my colleagues to welcome you….”
Staircases (perfect for making a very grand entrance) made their way down to the lobby foyer, down to the restaurant, into the ballrooms. Once could imagine the Queen (she used the hotel for hosting State guests), nobility and other special guests coming down these steps. We decided these grand staircases were a far better way of moving about than a (very tiny) “lift” (elevator).
Once settled in our room, we walked back to the train station to retrieve our Holland pass. We like to buy museum passes in cities not only for the discounted admission, but with the passes you can also find charming cafes (and clean restrooms).
The double-decker bicycle “lot” gave us a hint of how many bikes we would see on our visit to the Netherlands. Out in front of the train station was a parking garage equivalent for bikes. Astonishing looking.
Due to the canals weaving their way through many Dutch cities, one is never far from a stroll next to water. Right in the heart of the city there are ducks, wetlands and pretty park trails for walking and bicycling. We learned quickly to discern the two!
Just along the path was a one-story building that looked a bit like Tavern on the Green. The name hinted of pancakes (which I read we must try) and I declared a stop for lunch. We ordered a Kaas en Ham (crepe with ham and cheese) and proffertjes kleine portie naturel (beignets with butter and powered sugar). Not the healthiest of lunches (which we regretted later), but both dishes were delicious and we were starved. Outside our window, an endless flow of bicycles entertained us including one man with a suitcase on his handlebars. I was enchanted by the families.
We came home and took a much-needed nap (at this point we had not slept for nearly 20 hours). I. Could. Not. Go. Any. Further. The plan was to go to Delft, but a bath and crash was in order. A planned one hour turned into four. By the time we awoke, it was 5:30 and we felt a bit hungry. Also, we didn’t want to miss the afternoon tea (which we had heard so much about).
After tea, we walked through the hotel admiring the beautiful decor designed by the owners over the years. We saw the guest book signed by many famous people including several Americans, Eleanor Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Bing Crosby.
After tea, we decided to take a walk through the neighborhood near our hotel. Seeing the canals in the evening was such a treat. The shop windows so artfully designed felt like being in a whimsical gallery. While it wasn’t raining, there was a light mist falling which made for a dreamy setting. The street lights cast glowing pools of light on the water and the streets. If it weren’t so charming, one could easily imagine someone turning a corner and the shadow casting its way down an entire block.
Before heading back, we found a little market for some nibbles and juice for the morning.
Just about the moment I typed my final words for this memory, I fell into bed and hardly moved until the next morning.Share...Thanks!