A small country.
We do not often stay in hotels or apartments in the Netherlands. The main reason is that we live in the Netherlands. We can usually travel back and forth in one day. Our country is so small that you can drive from the top north to the bottom south in about 3.5 hours. From west to east it takes you less than 2.5 hours by car. Yes, it is that small.
However, small distances can take long. And when you don’t travel by car some places may seem impossible to get to. In a city like Amsterdam it can take you an hour to get somewhere by public transport, even with the new North-South metro connection. Outside a city there are places without a regular bus. There are also places when they go only once an hour, especially during the weekends. Still, we have no reason to complain. Compared to other countries our public transport system is not so bad and overall our roads are pretty decent.
Due to circumstances we were not able to go on a proper summer holiday. To make up for it, I took our daughter Eryn away for a girls-week. I asked her whether she wanted to go abroad or stay in the Netherlands. Her answer was clear: stay in the country. I started looking for an ideal place to stay. Somewhere with a lot to do nearby, somewhere central. I soon discovered that Apeldoorn was a perfect place to stay. It has several train stations as well as bus connections. There is an entertainment park for children Eryn’s age, a monkey zoo and many other attractions.
Although Apeldoorn was first mentioned as early as 792 AD, it remained small for many centuries. The name is derived from the old words ‘apa’ and a conjugation of the word ‘treo’. It means ‘trees near the water’. From the 16th century onwards the city started to grow because of the paper industries. In 1684 William III of Orange made some decisions that were very important to the city of Apeldoorn. He bought the castle ‘Het Oude Loo’ (meaning ‘the old Loo’) and subsequently built a new palace nearby, which he called ‘Paleis Het Loo’. This Palace remained in the Royal Family for centuries. These days you can visit it as it is now a museum as well as a National Monument.
However, it was not the Palace that was important to Apeldoorn. King William I built a canal that leads from the river the IJssel in Hattum to Apeldoorn and later on all the way through to Dieren (the ‘Apeldoorns Kanaal’). He also made a gravel path to make Apeldoorn more accessible. He paid for all this out of his own pocket. These constructions created employment opportunities for the city and were good for its economy. The railway that was built in 1876 made it even better, although the canals were no longer needed. They closed them and only part of them reopened later on. They still regulate the water management in the area.
Until 2002 we had Cantonal Courts, District Courts, Courts of Appeal and one Supreme Court. The Cantonal Courts were the lowest level of courts. There was only one judge to assess the cases in this court. The former Cantonal Court of Apeldoorn was built in 1880. It was designed by J.C. Metzelaar, who also built prisons in Breda and Arnhem as well as some other Cantonal Courts. After the Dutch judicial reclassification in 2002, this building was still in use until 2005. However, in 2007 its purpose completely changed: it became a B&B and brasserie.
When I was searching the Internet for a central location to stay, I stumbled onto this perfect place. The building lies opposite the ‘Raadhuisplein’, a square that houses an almost daily market as well as the city’s Town Hall. Up until 1842 there was a Church dominating the – then – Dorpsstraat (‘Village Street’). Because of the construction of a new Church near Palace Het Loo, this old Maria Church was no longer necessary. They demolished it to make place for the new Town Hall and a market square. The foundations of this Church can still be seen on the square. About 40 years later the Cantonal Court was built right opposite this – then new – square. However, there were not as many buildings yet as there is today. The building looked very stately back then.
The walk from the train station to our B&B is short. However, you can take a bus when your luggage is too heavy. When you enter the building, it is as if time stood still. On your left some old stairs take you up to the floors where the B&B resides. To your right you can enter the area that is transformed into a brasserie. Unfortunately, our daughter is not into ‘high tea’, but they say that this brasserie has the best high tea and lunch in all of Apeldoorn. I love to try that out some other time!
Around the corner is the downstairs breakfast area for the guests who stay in the B&B. It borders a garden with fresh herbs and an outside terrace for when the weather is nice. My daughter used it to search for ants with the son of another guest. They had a splendid time! From the garden she could also walk into the kitchen. Although this is not a place meant for guests, one of the people was so kind to teach her how to make a soup.
The two top floors are reserved for the B&B guests. We were the lucky ones to have a room on the top floor. When we looked outside our window, we could see the lively market square. The room was small, but cozy. A bed, a couple of chairs, a desk, a tv. It was all we needed. Eryn especially loved the window facing the square, because she could sit in it and look at all the tiny people walking by.
One floor below was a diner area. We used it to cook our meals in the evening. This room has two stoves, two fridges and two sinks. There were also a couple of tables and chairs to eat your meal. On this floor was also a small basket, in which we put a piece of paper with our breakfast wishes for the following morning. On the Sunday the staff had the day off. So instead of eating our breakfast downstairs, we ate in this dining room. They had put everything we wished for in the fridge and more.
On the signs of the doors you can still see the old purposes of the rooms. It is funny to see how everything has changed. It feels a bit like secretly staying in a building after closing time, especially on the Sunday when the staff is not around. You feel a bit out of place. Luckily, I did not have that feeling in our bedroom.
The bathroom was next door to our bedroom. That was excellent, because it gave me the opportunity to carry our sleeping daughter to the toilet before I went to bed myself. It was very basic with a shower, a sink and a toilet. All we needed. And it all was very clean.
From the windows of the B&B that are overlooking the square you can see a huge 10-meter-tall gorilla on top of the Town Hall tower. Apparently, this air inflated gorilla was made by Lisa Roet, who is an Australian – Melbourne based – artist who makes beautiful works of art. They are mainly about the relationship between men and primates. Her work is quite diverse: from sculptures to film, from photography to drawings. And then this gorilla. Earlier in my story I mentioned that we could go to a monkey zoo. This is called the ‘Apenheul’ and it was created in 1971 by photographer, Wim Mager. In this zoo there are areas where people could walk around, whilst the monkeys are uncaged as well. The gorilla on the tower with the name ‘Baboe’ was a present from this ‘Apenheul’ to the city of Apeldoorn.
The faces of this B&B.
When you’re in the breakfast area, there are photos of all the staff working in this B&B and Brasserie. They are the faces of this B&B. During our time here we got to meet quite a few of them. All of them were exceptionally nice to us. Our daughter is always in the mood for a chat or to play round. Luckily most of them were charmed by her youth and enthusiasm. One of them told us about a work outing they had a year earlier. First they went on a steam engine, followed by a trip on a river boat. We were about to do the same daytrip.
Breakfast was always a relaxed moment of the day. Although we usually wrote down the same requests on our piece of paper, we got something different almost every day. There was a lot of variation in the fruit and often we got some extra slices of cheese or an extra cup of coffee. Whatever we got, the food was always fresh and tasty. Because our daughter eats porridge in the morning, I always asked for some warm milk and that was never a problem. The staff went out of their way to make us happy. Most of them are mentally challenged, but that actually gives this place something special. The staff seemed nicer to us and more sincere than in other places. And they all did they their jobs well.
We were very sad to leave when our week in Apeldoorn got to an end. It had been a great short holiday and we would definitely miss this B&B, especially its friendly faces. Our daughter immediately asked when we could come back. “Hopefully sometime soon”, I said. We had done a lot in that week and the B&B was a really nice place to stay at. But now it was time to go home to my husband, her father. Time to sleep in our own beds and for her to play with all her toys and friends back home. Maybe we can bring our male Travelharts with us next time?
Also on Travelharts.com.
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