DUTCH DREAM WEEKENDS
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Margreet Reijntjes (52)
Journalist, Radio Presenter
With my beloved Steven (55) I have two sons (14 and 15 years old)
FRIDAY 17:00 hrs
DINER AT HOTEL ‘DE JUFFEREN LUNSINGH’
We have arranged to meet a group of old friends in the Hotel ‘De Jufferen Lunsingh’ in Westerveld, a beautiful estate in the middle of the woods in Drenthe. From 1724 to 1780, five spinster sisters lived in the original house: the Misses Lunsingh. We take a walk through the woods before we sit down to dinner. The Drents landscape and the many elegant, prancing deer which we see on the way are a joy to behold. During dinner, we share our thoughts and ideas. It is a most memorable evening.
SATURDAY 10:00 hrs
BREAKFAST AT THE BEACH
At 10am, I breakfast with my beloved and our two sons on the beach in IJmuiden, at Timboektoe. We enjoy bread rolls, and drink coffee and tea in this relaxing beach eatery on the Noordpier. After breakfast, we go for a walk with our dog Easy. As usual, a new ball game is invented during the walk. With rosy cheeks, we depart in the direction of the Gemeentemuseum (City Museum) in The Hague. The art deco building, designed by Berlage, and drenched in sunlight, is itself worth the visit; striking yellow bricks and a monumental entrance hall. Wonderful exhibitions are on view at the museum.
SATURDAY 13:00 hrs
CYCLING OVER THE WADDEN ISLANDS
The Dutch landscape lends itself to bicycle trips. The cyclist can quickly cover a lot of territory and the there is much to see and experience in the quiet surroundings. On Saturday morning, I go with a group of girlfriends to the most easterly point of the Waddeneiland, Terschelling. I went there often when I was very young and hold very fond memories. We cycle along well laid shell paths and experience the peacefulness of the vast farmland, with the sound of the godwits flying over the fields of yellow buttercups. On the way, we stop for an icecream and pick blackberries growing on the side of the road.
At the end of the day, together with our families, we sail in our boat over the Loosdrecht lakes. It is a lovely, balmy summer evening and we consume the wine and snacks we have brought along. Every so often, we take a dip in the cool water. We play a round of vollyball in a shallow area of the lakes. Our final destination is the terrace of ‘De Dikke Muis’ (The Fat Mouse) in Loosdrecht where the sun never seems to set.
A few months later, on the same lake, we do a long skating trip. Nothing pleases me more than to glide over the frozen lake on a crisp winter day; the ultimate freedom of motion. To warm up, we drink warm chocolate milk with rum in our old local cafe ‘De Toog’ in the Old West area of Amsterdam.
DINNER AT THE RESTAURANT THE LOBBY IN AMSTERDAM EAST
I dine with three ex-colleagues at the trendy and vintage restaurant ‘The Lobby’ in Amsterdam East. It is a convenient place to meet because it is easy to park the car. A former government building has been given a hip, new lease of life. We have reserved a table in a quiet corner. The food is excellent as is the conversation.
After dinner, we take in a ballet by the Netherlands Dance Theatre in the Amsterdam ‘Stopera’. The Netherlands Dance Theatre belongs to the top five modern dance groups in the world and all their performances are worthwhile viewing. The dancers are graceful and powerful, and the show is breathtaking.
After the theatre, we drive to the ‘Suite Hotel Pincoffs’ in Rotterdam, located in the monumental customs building at the Kop van Zuid. The hotel was established by a couple who decided to follow their dream, after a career in journalism. Pincoffs is the epitome of taste and class. Each room has its own design and furnishings. Enjoy a welcome drink in the hospitable lobby. Our children are still talking about the ‘bitterballen’ (crisp ragout balls) which they ordered via room service.
Sunday 11:00 hrs
DUTCH COUNTRY RETREATS
On Sunday morning, we breakfast at big picknick tables on the terrace of restaurant ‘Brambergen’ on the Natuurmonumenten (Heritage) estate ‘Boekesteyn’, constructed in The Golden Age as the (summer) residence of rich Amsterdammers. During breakfast, we look out upon the long lanes and the pretty water features.
After breakfast, I cycle alone to the Singer Museum in Laren, a place I like to visit. The museum was established in 1965 by Anna Spencer-Brugh, in memory of her deceased husband, the American painter William Henry Singer. They moved to Laren, the artists’ village in 1901 after a long trip through Europe. The villa they built, ‘De wilde zwanen’ (The wild swans) is now part of the museum. The exhibitions in the museum are always worth a visit. They are compact and curated with love. Before I depart, I visit the sculpture garden.
A DRINK ON THE CORNER
My beloved and I enjoy a drink in restaurant ‘Paisan’ in Hilversum, and our traditional order of fried calamari with bread and aioli. The restaurant is tastefully designed and serves good wines.
To end the weekend, we take in an evening performance of the play ‘De Vader’ (The Father) from the Zuidelijk theatre group. It is one of the best performances I have ever seen, about the bond between a woman and her demented father. The lead actor, Hans Croiset, was most deservedly awarded an important prize, De Louis D’or.
Naturally we end this weekend in the cocktail bar of the hotel American in Amsterdam, our usual end to an evening out together. The difficult choice made from an extensive list of unknown drinks. And of course, we try each other’s before ordering the next round. Playing the tourist in your own city.