It’s been four months since I gave birth. The weather was slowly getting warmer and the promise of a lovely spring made my husband book a weekend getaway as a present for me.
His timing couldn’t have been better as I was beginning to suffer from cabin fever and a little depressed from existing only to care for a tiny human who must feed, poop and sleep on schedule. We booked two-night in a hotel in Apeldoorn. The province of Gelderland, where Apeldoorn is located, is perhaps the last place in the Netherlands where nature still means getting lost in a forest without seeing a soul at the next turn.
Bad weather was predicted on the weekend of our trip, and it turned out lousier than we thought. The sky started pouring whene arrived at Hotel Echoput, which was not the best way to start a weekend trip that I was so looking forward to. My mood soured with the weather. I almost regretted leaving my comfortable house.
But once inside our spacious double-room with a balcony, my mood improved right away. We had a king-size bed that fits all three of us should we decide to sleep together, a big, proper bath that fits kid and husband and a terrace that overlooks a forest. Even with the storm outside, we still have a thick canopy of trees to stare from the comforts of our bed.
The downpour drowned our eagerness to stroll at the nearby forest. We were even too lazy to leave the bed so ordered room service for dinner. A spread of the juiciest hamburger, tender, meat-falling-off-the-bone barbecue spareribs and Flemish french fries was rolled in into our room on a silver tray, quite a luxurious service for hotel where the double-rooms are still budget-friendly.
We woke up as early as 5am as usual, dead-tired from the previous night. My daughter was at this age of denying her parents a goodnight sleep. So we started the day like zombie’s going about town searching for brain to eat. It’s a good thing that there’s a good coffee machine in our room.
We drove to Hattem, an Instagram-perfect town the size of a village. The stately municipal hall and classic Dutch houses lining the small square looks back to Hattem’s affluent days as a Hansa city.
We ended up at a crowded restaurant called Het Wapen van Hattem for a typical Dutch lunch called uitsmijter, a sort of open-face omelette sandwich. The kid was behaving well so far and would only grumble when asking for breast milk, which I willingly gave despite being in a very public place. Everything for a baby not to cause a scene.
It was Saturday and the small centre of Hattem was brimming for the last day of the Groot Hanze Shanty Festival. The town reverberated with sailor’s music performed by several choirs. It was difficult to squeeze between market-goers and local visitors and the music was becoming distracting so we wandered off to the empty back streets to find the Anton Pieck Museum.
I don’t know who Anton Pieck was before we came here (typical me) but a quick Google-search of things to do in Apeldoorn led us here.
Anton Pieck was a popular Dutch painter and graphic artist. His most popular works are perhaps the design of the Dutch amusement park The Efteling and his illustrations in The Grimm’s Fairytales and Stories of 1001 Nights.
While an amusement park is really not my cup of tea, I could spend hours poring over Pieck’s colourful drawings. His illustrations of the Netherlands in the 1920s are very detailed and and lively. Owing perhaps to his commissioned works for fairy tale illustrations, his paintings give you a fuzzy, warm feeling of looking through your favourite fairytale book.
When the kid became restless we decided to stroll around the small square and get some fresh air. The sky was still overcast but it wasn’t raining anymore.
We ended up at the biggest Bakery Museum in the Netherlands. Who knew that that even exists? It’s really more for kids who want to learn baking but adults can have some coffee and cake at the tiny restaurant or go crazy shopping for baking utensils in the adjacent store. But our budget didn’t include a shopping spree so we decided to go back to the hotel for an early dinner.
Our dinner at Restaurant de Echoput was quite relaxed despite being with a baby. The staff provided us a table where other diners wouldn’t be bothered by a mother breastfeeding her child. The food would have been excellent but there were too many hits and misses with the combination of the ingredients. The goose liver prepared 3-ways is quite a confused dish together but the liver itself was delicious. So were the two amuse, the lamb’s neck and the dessert. Try the wine recommends however. We found one bottle so delicious that we bought extra bottles to take home.
Time to go home. But first we visited The Loo Palace (Paleis Het Loo), which is a stone throw’s away from our hotel.
We had brunch at the Prins Hendrick Garage, a canteen-style café that must really improve the food that they offer visitors. Not every tourist would be happy with sandwiches and a couple of salads especially when they travel all the way from the capital to come here.
Anyway, we finished our meal with coffee and cake in the shape of one of the Queen Beatrix hats. There was an exhibit going on at that moment called Chapeux where they exhibited hundreds of the Queen’s hats, that one accessory that royal ladies couldn’t leave the house without. We didn’t pay the extra ticket to see it but the cake was delicious.
Palaces are not my thing either but this one was nearby. Like many palaces turned into a museum, Paleis Het Loo is boring but the garden was beautiful and you could enjoy a good summer afternoon reading a book while sitting under one of the terraces. The best time to visit Paleis Het Loo is perhaps in September when they organized several interesting activities (flower styling, photo contest, anyone?)
What I enjoyed most was getting to know Princess Marianne, the princess who defied the royal life to follow her heart. But that’s for another post.
Despite the filthy weather, I was happy to be out of the house for at least one weekend. On the way back home, the sun started shining.