As a permanent resident of The Hague and striving to follow in the glorious footsteps of my fellow English explorers, I readily put my name down to join the tour of the 13thSeptember. The description sounded wonderful and that was the reality also!! The tour included Ijmuiden, Haarlem and a pit stop for lunch at the impressive Duin & Kruidberg Country hotel.
The first stop was Ijmuiden, where the mayor himself gave us an informative and enthusiastic explanation of where the 850 million investment to construct a lock for accommodating the largest cruise ships in the world will flow to. (excuse pun) Our heads still reeling from the size of the investment and lock, we were whisked off to lunch at the Duin & Kruidberg hotel.
The driveway is simply breathtaking to reach this most hospitable of hotels and the view was naturally helped by the glorious sunshine.
Before lunch, we were treated to a talk by Dr Talsma, deputy commissioner of North Holland to the king. He discussed plans to accommodate an expected population growth of around 300,000 in the Amsterdam area during the foreseeable future. I use the word discussion as he provoked us with questions and even requested suggestions from the audience.
The talk gave us food for thought, and talking about food…lunch arrived. Suffice it to say this hotel deserves its Michelin star status for both service and contents. Our group walked off the excessive kilos by taking the opportunity to wander round the impressive sculptor gardens. Had the coach not signaled its intention to leave, most would have been quite happy to sit on one of the terraces, just soaking up the sunshine and views across the lake.
But the Haarlem of Frans Hals was waiting, with lively terraces, it’s wide assortment of lovely little individual shops, which elsewhere have been doomed by online competitors and not to forget the amazing architecture around the Grand Market square. We were so lucky with our timing as we were able to witness a choir in full song at the cathedral of St Bavo.
All in all, a most enjoyable, educational and tasty tour. I’m certainly going to sign up for the next ones.
It was Diplomat Magazine’s 2nd Excursion.