We got up early, went downstairs for breakfast, stopped in at Reception to request the airport shuttle be booked for 10:12, and then went back upstairs to pack. Packing didn’t take long and we were soon heading downstairs with our suitcases……well, actually, Craig headed downstairs with the suitcases while I walked slowly down the skinny steps….firmly grasping both railings each step of the way.
We checked out and, while waiting for the shuttle, had a pleasant chat with the young woman manning the desk (a graduate student from Slovakia). Our scheduled appointment time came and went so she called to check on the van’s whereabouts. She returned and reported that there had been an error…..we were on the schedule for 12:12 but the company would try to have someone pick us up at 11:30. She suggested that we enjoy this rarely seen sunshine by passing the time at a nearby open-air market…..and that’s exactly what we did.
The reception desk was now being manned by a very genial gentleman. We explained that the shuttle was due to pick us up at either 11:30 or 12:12. We chatted for a while but when 11:30 came and went, he checked with the shuttle company on our pick-up status. He returned and sadly reported that we weren’t on their schedule at all so he had made arrangements for us to receive a refund at the airport, called a cab for us and offered to pay the difference between the cab fare and the refund. We thanked him but refused his generous offer…..the hotel wasn’t to blame for this mix-up.
The cab quickly arrived and we were at the airport 25 minutes later……collecting our refund from the shuttle company. We rolled our luggage over to the Sixt counter to pick-up our rental car and waited while the attendant finished a phone call and then assisted another client. After what seemed an eternity, the paperwork was in place and we headed over to the garage where we were told the car would be delivered shortly from another location. We waited and waited for the car to arrive….other customers came and went while we stood in the chairless lot. It was almost 2:00 pm before we were finally on the road to Otterlo and the Kröller Müller Museum in the De Hoge Veluwe National Park.
Holland’s a small country so in just a little over an hour, we exited the freeway and followed the signs…..first to the museum, and then to Otterlo. Otterlo’s a small town who’s only claim to fame is its proximity to the park and the museum. We didn’t need directions or a map. It was easy to find our hotel….the Grand Café Hotel Kruller…..we turned right at the first street.
We checked in and Craig carried our suitcase, tote and computer bag up the poorly lit spiral staircase to our room. Then we hopped back in the car and backtracked to the park following the signs we had passed on our way into town. Fifteen minutes later, we were in at the park’s gate having a “discussion” on whether or not to go in. Park admission was 8 euros each but didn’t include museum entry….that was another 8 euros each…..and then there was a 6 euro charge for driving into the park. The museum was going to close in a little over an hour and my thrifty Dutch husband didn’t want to spend the money. But I wasn’t willing to wait until tomorrow….that would cut short either our visit to the Openluchtmuseum or to Kinderdijk. The clock was ticking….there was no time for negotiation…..in a deep, rumbling voice that I didn’t recognize as my own, I said, “go get the damn tickets.” With his choice now narrowed to either getting the tickets or an exorcist, Craig did the wise thing and we drove into the park.
We drove for another 15 minutes…..through woodlands, meadows and sand dunes…..before finally arriving at the museum. Sculptures lined the path leading up to the contemporary, low-rise building that houses the modern art collection of Helene Kröller-Müller. Our goal during our short visit was to focus on the world’s second largest collection of Van Gogh’s works.
To better understand the evolution of modern art, the museum has displayed it chronologically. As we wandered through room after room, finding Van Gogh’s in many different “eras,” we were thrilled to also see works by Monet, Renoir, Gauguin, Seurat, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso and Mondriaan. We didn’t realize this collection contained so many other great modern artists.
But we weren’t thrilled with the special exhibition of Jan Fabre’s works. The first room in the museum housed his “Fountain of the World”…..a sculpture of a surprised man in a compromising position lying in a field of gravestones. The fountain…..hmm, how to be tactful….. “comes” on periodically. Mr Fabre’s lewd pencil drawings were showcased in the next room. Craig said he’d seen better work in men’s restrooms. Is this artist’s purpose to shock or to humor? We weren’t sure and we saw no redeeming value in his works. We’re children of the 60’s…..have we lost our edge and become prudish? Or was this just garbage? Perhaps a little of each.
It was nearing closing time but the outdoor sculpture garden was beckoning and the doors were still open so we headed outside and walked through the beautifully landscaped grounds, enjoying the warm sunshine and the works of art.
When our eyes and feet had tired, we returned to the car for a drive through the park. Along the way we passed Jachthuis Sint Hubertus, the Kröller-Müller’s hunting lodge, serenely set along the banks of a pond (what is it with the Dutch and phallic symbols?).
Bisecting the roads of the park were paths for walkers, bicycles and horses. Signs pointed to a Visitor Center and campgrounds, but we followed the signs to the exit and found ourselves in Otterlo……minutes from our hotel! Who knew there were two entrances? Wish we did.
It was still warm and sunny, so we sat on the hotel’s terrace for dinner….enjoying smoked salmon and smoked rib eye appetizers, then moving on to our main courses…..Spring Beef Stew for me and Rosemary Lamb Chops for Craig…..accompanied by a pleasant rosé from Lisbon and a warm apple tart for dessert. We finished dinner just as the sun was setting. A most pleasant end to a day that started badly.
Just a perfect day
Problems all left alone
Weekenders on our own
It’s such fun……Lou Reed