John and I were staying about 15 minutes away from Heerenveen, in a little hotel in the middle of some farmland (technically in Steenwijk). The night before, we’d come in tired, and looked around just long enough to admire the rustic wooden floors and to be grateful for the sparkling clean bathroom and crisp linens and soft bathrobes …
but we didn’t realize until the morning that we had a beautiful view to the east from our third-floor windows.
The morning had dawned cloudless, but a little hazy, hinting at the completely clear day that followed.
We’d made plans with everyone else to meet up at Jonathan’s hotel at 10am, but woke up quite a bit earlier, so we were able to have a leisurely breakfast and spend some time exploring the area around our hotel. I mentioned before that we ate croissants every day for breakfast while we were in Europe; we assumed when we left Paris that that would be it for our daily morning pastries, thinking that the Dutch breakfast offerings would be more on the savory end, but when we walked up to the breakfast buffet the first morning, the first thing on the line was a basket filled with golden croissants.
I think I made John test-eat one before I committed, to make sure they were good. There’s no point in eating non-delicious food, especially if it’s not very healthy, although I don’t mind ingesting lots of butter if it’s for a good cause. (For instance, the cause of not leaving perfect, flaky, light croissants unconsumed.) There was no need to worry, though; the croissants were excellent. The rest of breakfast (eggs, mostly) was also good, although I ruined two eggs before realizing that the pepper grinders were filled with white pepper, which almost always tastes terrible to me and renders food inedible. (That “strong” flavor – let’s be polite here – is formed during the fermentation process that removes the outer black skin.)
After breakfast, we headed down the small lane adjacent to our hotel.
We saw some funny European geese in a field, which of course I couldn’t capture well without a zoom lens – but we did get a good look at them through our binoculars. Did you know that if you google “funny European goose,” the Greylag Goose’s wikipedia entry is the top hit? I’m not sure if that’s what they were, but I’m amused anyway.
Other highlights included ponies…
and of course sheep.
(If you don’t like photos of sheep, my blog is probably not the right place for you to visit in the next few days.)
It was wonderful to have such a change from the bustle and rush of Paris; we both agreed that having half our vacation in a big city and half in a secluded countryside was ideal. We hadn’t planned our trip with that as a specific goal, but stepping outside that morning and breathing clean, smoke-free air and taking a calm and pleasant stroll was a perfect counterpoint to the first half of our vacation.
We got a little caught up in our country walk, and despite having had plenty of time when we first woke up, arrived 3 minutes late to meet my family – but I think they didn’t mind too much. We all spent a little while relaxing in the hotel lobby, deciding how to arrange the morning. The racing was not scheduled to start until 4pm again, so Jonathan had several hours free to spend with us.
(Mom was there too, but the photo I took of her turned out too dark to salvage.)
We’d hoped to borrow the hotel bikes to ride around and spend a little time checking out Heerenveen, but they didn’t have enough available for all of us; instead, the 4 guys took the bikes and had an exciting adventure involving contemporary art appreciation and interpretation at small local museum, while mom and I took our cameras and headed out to a nearby walking path to talk (and attempt) photography. We did more talking than actual shooting, but I got a couple of photos I like; here are my two favorites from the walk.
When we all reconvened at the hotel, we still had some time before lunch; we decided to spend the rest of the morning playing on the most awesome piece of (adult-sized) playground equipment ever. Stay tuned – exhilarating and action-packed photos coming tomorrow!