There are times when a woman just needs a break. A break from reality, a break from husband and kids, from cleaning teh kitchen and doing the laundry. Times when a woman needs to be with other women, share stories and tell secrets, laugh at silly jokes and be among the understanding of other women. This past weekend, I had that opportunity. I am refreshed from the experience. And I had a really terrific time.
We headed to Den Hague, which is the government capital of Holland, and entered a quite luxurious hotel complete with glass-enclosed bathroom. Tâlk about shock! We decided then and there that we'd be using the public toilets 7 floors down to do our duty. The glass enclosure left nothing to the imagination and was truly alaughable design. But it did do that...we had plenty of laughs from that special room in our "house". And, after looking at the skyline view from the top floor of the hotel, we decided we'd happily deal with the bathroom issue. The beds were hard, but did my back good. And the breakfast...well, it was the best I have seen in any hotel I've been in. It was a real treat complete with real bacon, pancakes and even maple syrup! YUM!
We took the tram into the center of den Hague where we sat on a terrace for coffee and a light lunch, then visited the old prison which was quite a shocking experience. The tools they used to torture and kill the prisoners in those days was a site to make you cringe. Branding, smashing bones, chopping off heads...ugh! I got a tshirt from there...and when I got home Erwin said ""Wow, you can wear torture!" But it is a true replica of the past, and the visit did make us think hard about religion and the role it plays in society, about the advances (or not?) we have made since those early times. And as always, I absolutely loved being in the midst of such histroey, touching walls from thousands of years past, feeling those 'ghosts'of the past.
We visited the many special areas in the Hague...the Peace Palace which we got to a bit too late to really see (all that walking made for tired legs, bodies, and spirits), but we did have a great look around the Binnenhof where the government officials do their business. We saw the Palace where the Queen sometimes works, and so many statues that just intrigue me. I think that sculpture is my very favorite art form. It's so creative and alive.
We then headed to teh IMAX theater where we saw a film on the African Serengeti which was really marvelous. After seeing the hot air balloons flying over the fields of grass, it made me want to take a trip even more so. We'll see if that time ever comes. I had the most fun watching my friend Sharon's face...she was so expressive throughout the film and gave me a chance to see a bit deeper into her soul. It was nice.
Scheveningen, here we come. We caught the tram from Imax and headed to the beach scene. It made my blood pound with adrenaline. That first glimpse of the sea, so much water it goes to the end of the earth, waves crashing against the shore, lights flashing from the restaurants littering the beach, the pier so strong haging in the water, the sun just a vision behind clouds of red, blue, and yellow, the scent of the sea filling you....it was really beautiful. Though I wasn't rasied as a beach baby, the ocean and the sea brings me peace. I could have stayed sitting there all night long...but we had to have some dinner...so we headed to a Mexican restaurant where we actually got real and good Mexican food. My favorite by far was the refried beans...oh, so yummy! I wish I'd ordered two plates of just beans (but then there may have been problems later with teh whole glass-walled bathroom thing! haha). We managed to catch the last tram back to the hotel before night was upon us. I was ready for sleep...but not just yet...we had birthday candles to blow out and a last look over the city skyline...
Wake up to the beep of the cell phone alarm...3 minutes too early! But other voices too, women with whom I'd shared a day of wonderful excperiences were ready to get on the move...more to see...
We got ready, headed to breakfast, and then checked out of Sir Winston Churchill's hotel. It was as grand as he. We took the car back to Scheveningen beach so we could spend the day there, playing in the sand, putting our feet in the waves, picking up shells and flat, smooth rocks. We shopped, just a little, not too much, and we had drinks on the terrace overlooking the beautifully alive crashing waves. We watched children play soccer on the sand, couples walk hand in hand barefoot, and seagulls come gliding to the earth from out of thin air. And then, we stepped into this sandy world ourselves. I took the shoes off my feet and dug my toes into the wet coolness of this other world. I stooped to collect some sheels...blacks and white stripes, blue and brown, white...and then I headed for the water. After the first rush of cold tingles slipped through my body, I was at peace. The sounds of the waves crashing onto the shore took away all the other sounds around me and I was one with nature. It filled me completely...adn it was a perfect end to a perfect girl's weekend away. A break from reality, a break with women and friends, and it was simply wonderful!