A March 2000 trip
to Netherlands by Irene
Quote: Just 20 minutes from teeming Amsterdam, Kaag Island, complete with car ferry access, was a soothing, cool, food and flower filled respite from Holland's cosmopolitan capital.
Hotel | "Hotel Orion"
Inside the half glass door to the left was a narrow long table just underneath the picture window snuggled up with a chair underneath and nudging the side of the first single bed, more like a cot. Efficiency was not a problem as we had clothes closet in the far left corner with the second chair, desk, telephone, televison hung on wall above the desk and a huge bath. Our quarters had more of an institutional feel than tourist with damask colored drapes and bed cover, no decorations on the white walls, complete with dull gray carpet. We later learned that it had a quite a reputation as a seminar hotel for local businesses. Heating was provided and as I did not see any sign or need air conditiong, we guessed there was none. Only problem, other than we had to give each other hand signals when we wanted to pass, was two twin beds, and not even pushed together. Well! we fixed that and tied the legs together with a towel. Now! This was the best - what they left out of the room they put in the bathroom and then in the shower. A huge yellow tiled rectangular bath room with a monsterous shower tucked the right end. Just maybe they needed that large shower for all those rustic sailing men long ago. Breakfast was served in the cafe down stairs and was never varying with eggs, cheese, coffee, tea, juice, and sliced loaf bread. Not the most of exotic of places, but comfortable and the owners and staff were wonderful with tips and information on dinning and attractions. The rooms were always clean and fresh. Hotel Orion is noted for it's quiet atmosphere, except for a occasional jet from Schiphol Airport and the rare wedding guest who runs the metal stairs on Saturday night. Our hosts were very quick to apoligize in the morning. Anyway, we just needed a place to stay to go see the wonderful bulb fields (Bollenstreek) and the fabulous Kuekenhof.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 11, 2002
Once inside the door, we were inside in the middle of it all. Immedialtely to the left was the kitchen mastered by lofty man who we found out could swing a wonderful skillet. On the left was the short narrow door to the eight table eating area, although we could eat at the bar if we chose. In front of us was the walkway to the dark oak semicircular bar, surrounded by the all the dark stained walls of lots of good times. We were really tired from the journey from Amsterdam and the warmth from the kitchen, the low comforting ceilings and the local laughter were very welcome. Our little blonde waitress did not speak much English, however the menu in Dutch was not that hard to understand. We manged to order a steak and decided to share, as the Dutch are known for their generous portions, but we were not sure if she understood.
After bit of a wait, she arrived with two monster plates, with a beautiful filet on each and crowded the table with bowls of salad, creamed potatoes, and and steamed spinach. Immediately we assummed she had not understood and tried to tell her we did not want two orderes and she quickly ran to the kitchen to return with the chef, who could not imagine what was wrong with his perfect fillets. Again we thought we were not understood and now we had the owner who was a bit fluent in English and wearly informed us that was only one order. Talk about Total Humilation. Our chef stalked from the room and we looked for the nearest table to hide under. Lucky for us the Dutch are forgiving and we devoured the crusty beef along with rich potatoes and tangy spinach before it got cold. We did not need to come back here but we did several times and we are still not sure if it was to say were sorry, or the place was delightful, warm, cosy, remarkable food for such a good price and right on the water, too. In return the owner, when he found out we collected beer glasses, stuffed a box with token glasses of all the beers he served in his bisto and glaldy helped us package it for shipping to the states. Two Willows is closed on Tuesdays, open other days 11 AM to 11 PM. and also accepts your Mastercard and Visa.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 21, 2002
Attraction | "Kasteel de Haar"
We seemed to have entered to the rear of the castle so strolling to the left we found the gateway and bridge across the moat and mounted the steep granite steps to enter. A circular stone staircase lead down down to the dungeon and what a nice dungeon. Would you believe bright cafe, tourist shop, restrooms in low ceiling cave atmosphere. A bit of a surprise since we were told the family is still in residence and but you can view the paintings, tapestries, and furnishings inside on the hour with a tour.
Opting for the gardens and view of the castle instead, we struck off down the path to the manicured formal part of the 100 hectares. Behind us the the spikey coned round turrets of the red brick monument pierced our overcast leaden sky as we admired the classic box hedge pruned to an inch of its life and marveled at the lush green landscage produced by this sometimes dreary weather. To the left of the main buildingwas another entrace with draw bridge and metal spiked gate waiting to crush all intruders. Nearby was chapel in the same style matching all the castle and gate houses with red and white striped shutters on all the endless windows.
After a long leisurely mistly walk we retuned to the moat and castle and then finally said so long as we passed the stables and the four car garage.
Castle and park $7.50- park $2.50- Gardens open Mon-Thurs 11-4, Sat.-Sun 1-4. The castle has changing hours all through the year and the week, so best to check with tourist office before your visit.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 29, 2002
De Haar Castle (Kasteel de Haar)
Haarzuilens, Netherlands 3455
Outside the busy town center of Lisse north along 208 on the way to Hillegon we found bustling farms and then with a burst of yellow and red the tulips and dafodills blazed across our view. Rows and miles of color blended with the next field and the next as our car creept through the mass of tourist buses and farm machinery. Even if you could go faster, we would not, as billions of blooms can not be absorbed in a streaking car. Pulling to the open gate of a spectacular mass of ruby red tulips ,we could not resist the urge to walk in the middle of all that vibrant color and spin roll after roll of film through my camera. We slipped from field after field of dafodills to Hyacinths and then back to zesty yellow tulips along a small back road meant only for bycicles. Now that would really be the way to see flowers up close and personal.
At the Frans Roozen Nursery in Vogelenzang you can even get a guided tour of how they get it all to market even the cutting of the blooms, seems as the cutting of the flower makes the bulbs divide and hence the cutting. The Amsterdan Tourist Board can help if you want as guided tour of the entire bulb district. We vistited the show rooms of the Nursery, but did not take the tour but slowly made our way home through the small roads of the South Holland province to the gentle hum of the mowing machines.