Travel Stories

The Netherlands – 2 Nights & 100 Years of Dutch Design (2/2)

From outside, in the dark light of night, the Havezate Marveld Aparthotel looked like a castle, or a replica castle, a film set of a castle. Inside it was something different.

I walked to the end of the long corridor and opened the door to my room, my eyes adjusted focus to look across the vast space and my tired brain wondered if I’d turned up in someone’s house by accident.

My room, for me. Two double bedrooms, a living room, dining area, terrace, kitchen (with dishwasher) (I didn’t use it), two toilets (I used them), and a bathroom that was so spacious the word ‘Jacuzzi!’ echoed from my mouth.

I tried to settle in. I spent twenty minutes trying to close the curtains before I realised it was one large curtain that I was pulling back and forth from the middle of the window. Eleanor came down to check on me and we (I) decided it would be more comfortable if we both went up and shared her apartment.

I helped Eleanor set up the Jacuzzi, it glowed red, gurgled and rumbled deeply. Like an angry vortex to hell.

‘Shout me if the bath demon tries to get you!’ I called, as I retreated to a safe distance.

In the morning, after a good croissant, we hopped on the coach to Harderwijk to visit the Stadsmuseum and preview the exhibition ‘Huszar van de Stijl’.

Such a pretty town, full of interest. I saw a sign for an ice-cream parlour and temporarily forgot my whereabouts.

We drank tea in the sun. 27 degrees Celsius and blue skies. In the museum I was drawn to the local artefacts, including a preserved cockerel in a jar.

Vilmos Huszar, a Hungarian who moved to the Netherlands, and for the last 30 years of his life lived and worked near Harderwijk, was one of the founding members of the De Stijl movement. A few years after the movement was founded, Huszar left and went his own way.

We climbed stairs and stairs. The exhibition part built, copper and pewter dishes laid out ready for their glass cabinets, the walls and gallery floor showing images of nature, of flowers, inspired in some ways by Van Gogh.

‘It is told he had a lot of animals including a pig,’ said our guide, I listened intently, painting a picture in my mind.

On to our next destination, and feeling creatively inspired I took it upon myself to make my own luggage tag from scrap paper. ‘You made this?’ said the driver, as he loaded my case into the coach’s undercarriage, ‘Yes!’ I said, proudly. ‘A little strange!’ he replied, turning away.

The sun had reached it’s highest point as we arrived in the medieval city of Amersfoort. The heat was hot. We stopped off at De Vier Broers where I won at lunch by eating not one, but two delicious croquettes.

We took the walking tour, stopping to admire the church tower (the only part of the church left after a gunpowder storage issue), then a quick loop round the city, through the Mondriaan Huis, past a spouting fountain, along the canal, and across to the Kunsthal KAdE.

Kunsthal KAdE, a bright and bold space, filled with bright and bold work. The current exhibition, ‘The Colours of De Stijl’ is a large collation of work with a strong focus on the use of colour, by the six protagonists of De Stijl alongside artist’s who’ve been influenced by them in the past 100 years.

It seemed so sudden that I found myself stood on the railway platform, Mondriaan themed chewy sweets in hand, destined for the airport.

I sat by the window on the flight home, the one hour journey back in time (leaving at 7.20pm, arriving at 7.20pm). The sun was setting in a beautiful cocktail of pinks. I thought about how amazing it was to be able to hop on a flight, and then travel across the whole of the Netherlands so quickly and freely, by road and by rail, through the flat tree scattered landscape and beautiful historical cities, to the undulating National Park, and back, without a worry.

172km from Schiphol to Winterswijk. I’d do it again tomorrow!

With the greatest thanks to the wonderful people of Visit Holland for hosting me in their beautiful country.