On our hols, off we go, our first trip abroad, if we can call it abroad, is a series of trains en route to the Hague. We travelled on mostly empty trains to the Netherlands to visit some friends for the week, my brother included.
I love the changing landscape that accompanies pan-european train journies such as this one which took us through Northrhein-Westphalia, over the boarder and into the Netherlands. Once off the train at Den Haag Centraal, we walked northwards to Will’s flat, pausing on the way at a quaint looking kiosk to try some kroketten.
Once at our destination, we ascended the steep Dutch staircase into the flat where we were welcomed by Lucien, Jessie and the smell of delicious food. The night unrolled before us. Will returned from his tennis match and our little group that had first met in Manigod just over half a year ago enjoyed an evening of post-lockdown company.
That night we slept long and fast and woke to what was a normal workday for the inhabitants of the flat. After some breakfast we went to explore the Hague. Our two goal destinations were the Peace Palace and the beach (and maybe some pannekoechen …).
We roamed, flaneur-style, as is so welcome on holiday and headed towards the beach. I feel like Mr.Bean when I approach the seaside. I’m reminded of Crosby beach in the North-West of England which I’ve visited with mum countless times. We walked through a park and popped out in the seaside village of Scheveningen. We meandered into the local supermarket, stocked up on picnic supplies and made our way to the seafront where we sat and let the salty air mess up our hair and freshen our bodies.
I could’ve stayed there all day but we wanted to get back in time to help prepare dinner for the group and Dad who would be arriving that evening after his turn of a long day on trains. Home-made chips, a substantial pasta bake and Will’s mojitos made up the ingredients for a perfect evening.
Now that we see each other more rarely, it’s always a treat whenever we get the chance. We enjoyed the food, each other’s company and after a game of wizard, dad continued on his journey and I sat on Will’s bed, possibly annoying him, but in a bid to entertain and to plan our debut album : Billy and Lulu, the new kids. The theme of the first song, Goldy Locks.
On Friday, Jacob and I headed to Amsterdam for the day. “If you’ve never been before then it’s definitely worth visiting”, advised Will’s flatmate. She also gave us the tip of booking a cheese and wine tasting at Reypenaer.
Patty, our cheese-tasting-guide, told us all about the six different cheeses we would try; the wines accompanying them; the family history; and snippets about her life in Amsterdam. We were the only ones in the tasting which was not great for the family business, and even though a private tasting is quite luxurious, it may even have been better to share the experience with others, but the afternoon was wonderful nevertheless. To anyone planning a trip to Amsterdam, I would definitely recommend a trip to Reypenaer!
The rest of our day in Amsterdam was spent sauntering around the canals and streets, replenishing our energy levels every couple of hours with local delicies and beverages. We found a spot to sit by one of the canals and watched the boaters, pedestrians and cyclists go on by. As evening fell, the city became more crowded, busier and we wandered on our increasingly weary feet. The time came to head back to the Hague as Amsterdam was turning hazey.
On our last day we mooched around the Hague all five of us. Our hosts showed us the Binnenhof, the Mauritshuis and one of their favourite bars. I’m very appreciative of my yearly trips to the Netherlands. Each year, things change and we find ourselves at different points in our lives. We spend a long weekend together in a cosy flat somewhere in Delft, Den Haag or inbetween and we hang out, siblings, parents and friends, halfway between host- and holiday mindsets.
Thank you Will, Lucien, Jessie, Laeti and Dad. Here’s to our next European meet-up.