Europe 2006 – Part 1

Our daughter was going on a summer course in Bonn, Germany, and it inspired us to get on the same charter flight and spend some time in Europe.  The trip was just short of 3 weeks and we rented a car for the entire trip.  We had more or less planned out where we wanted to go but only made hotel bookings for the first two nights.  Our first two nights were spent on the shores of the Rhine River in castles!    After landing in Dusseldorf, picking up the car rental we whisked ourself at break neck speeds to our first destination.

Night 1 – Hotel Castle Schoenberg

We probably did our castles in the wrong order.  Our first on the west side of the Rhine was a lovely well presented castle hotel with a full array of services and staff.  The feature was a romantic 8 course sumptuous meal on a terrace overlooking the Rhine.  However, the jetlag/travel day had taken a lot out of us and by the time the meal ended we were almost falling asleep at the table.  Note to self…take it easy the first day!  I discovered wine Schorle (a german style spritzer), yum!

During our two days along the Rhine we explored the quaint old villages, took a tourist cruise along the Rhine & learned all about the mysterious Lorelei

Night 2 –  Hotel Castle Liebenstein

This was in fact my favourite castle on the east side of the Rhine.  It’s what I call a Mom & Pop castle that had an aroma of schnitzel everywhere you went.  It appeared to be run by an older couple, the only staff we could see.  They carried our bags, checked us in, cooked our meals.  It was very inexpensive to stay here.  Our room was far simpler than that at Castle Schoenberg, however it had this wonderful big window that overlooked the Rhine and amazing views up and down the valley and over the hills!

Night 3 – After leaving Castle Liebenstein we headed southish on the east side of the Rhine and crossed back over and headed to Luxembourg where we stopped for lunch.   Travel for me has to involve water, and we might have spent a little more time in Luxembourg city had there been a water/canal system, after lunch we headed toward Belgium.  We were planning to overnight in Belgium, and of course had no room booked, we came across this beautiful hotel that I absolutely wanted to stay at in the main square area of Brussels, however, Johnny felt that $500/night was a bit excessive … sooo…night 3 we had our first bit of stress as we continued to drive and drive trying to find a place to sleep.  About 10 p.m. we found a hotel in Waterloo, Belgium and stayed there for the night…small room, but incredibly comfortable bed and wonderful breakfast in the morning.  Unfortunately, we can’t remember the name of the hotel and no amount of googling is finding it for us.  We think it may have been Ibis, but not certain.  Everywhere we stayed in Europe had amazing breakfasts included with our room rate, the perfect way to start a day of travel!

Night 4 – Day 4 was another example of the need for flexibility when traveling with no hotel reservations!  This day spent in The Netherlands.  I’m not a fan of huge cities, so we opted to give Amsterdam a pass, but visit Den Haag (The Hague) instead.  Den Haugue is a beautiful seaside city bustling with life.  It was a hot July day and guess what….not a room to be found!  So, we had lunch and a tourist information placed called dozens of hotels for us but nothing!  So….back in the car we went….heading up the coast…driving and driving…what you need to know is….I generally am all about location and a bit of a princess, I like my hotel locations to be ‘just so’…it’s all about the view & location……finally…..we got to a cute port style/seaside town Harlingen.   We spotted the ideal place, in the middle of the town where a canal comes down to meet the sea….of course… rooms *sigh*…….they had a great restaurant (Hotel Restaurant Zeezicht) overlooking the port and we had a terrific meal..all the while the front desk clerk was calling around trying to find us a place to sleep…..finally….he came up with something…not quite what we would have imagined…however, a camp ground on the edge of town had some rooms in the main building and they had one left!  So…$50 for a night… was a bit jail cellish, but the beds were comfortable and the breakfast the next morning was hearty!  It was just across the street from the sea (over a dyke) and we had a late night walk on the beach!  This was my first exposure to a european style shower/bath room where the shower where the whole bathroom is tiled and the shower isn’t closed off…you just shower and everything goes down the floor drain….Camping De Zeehoeve was an interesting part of the trip and a bit more upscale a campground than I’m accustomed to in Canada!

I’m quite enjoying re-living vacations past.  The rest of this vacation will appear when I’m feeling so inspired!


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