During this long Pentecost weekend, one of only a handful of non-working holidays in the Netherlands and the last holiday weekend of Dutch Spring-Summer 2020, we ventured outside Amsterdam town for another one-night staycation, our second for the year. Same as in Texel last month, it had to be someplace quiet, far from crowded and worth the money and effort – a tall order given our geographic limitations. We’re not off to California to visit family this year, or go on a driving tour of the U.K. or France; Asia or South Africa, or anywhere a flight is needed, would be asking for trouble with the situation likely the status quo for a long time coming.
After days of scouring Google maps for our magical someplace, we agreed to go south, to Limburg close to the Belgian border, to yet another Relais & Chateaux outpost (because they’re usually reliable), to the green environs of an estate dating back to the 13th century, all of which looked good on paper and which begged to be seen to be believed. On the fateful day itself, after two hours of driving we were in the quaint town of Valkenburg, our humble, blue Ford Fiesta parked shoulder to shoulder with Porsches and Audis in the gravel parking lot. Under the shade luckily.
The first order of the day was lunch, which got complicated because of Teko’s prickliness with the options and the price – delicious but admittedly it did turn out to be the most expensive lunch in recent memory by far – then followed by a drive to the American cemetery nearby, which turned out to be closed by order of the current White House chief resident. Already two strikes after only a few hours.
Unknown to us, we were given an upgrade to a second floor Senior Suite, which was nice with its elaborate, exposed wood-beam ceiling, window views from three different sides, large bed and spacious bathroom with a tub for Teko. Upon finer inspection though, the exposed electrical wiring that ran all over, the broken AC, no USB outlets, scratches here and there, and a bathroom in need of an upgrade were all disappointing especially given its star-level and high end affiliations. The property overall though is beautiful with plenty of green spaces, brimming with history which I loved, and the service staff as good as expected. The room service for dinner wasn’t that bad either.
As fate would have it Teko and I are both still gainfully employed (I hope with all my heart this continues for as long as I’m around), and which is more than can be said about many millions of others right now, and since discovering new places is the one strong pastime we have in common it would have been a shame to spend the extended weekend at home, more so since I hadn’t been outside our apartment in almost two weeks. I did miss our apartment after just one night away so we decided to checkout early the next morning, grab a McDonald’s nearby, and admire the baroque pilgrimage church on the estate before heading back to Amsterdam.
For better or worse this bizarre world we’re in has changed, and the time’s come to learn to treat it differently – in a more distant, more moderate, and hopefully more sustainable way.