Happy Birthday to Me!

Last weekend we went on a wonderful birthday weekend. Rather then asking for presents, I told the boyfriend I much rather just go do something. You see, the boyfriend is really good at birthdays. Last year, when we were still doing long distance, he took me to Liverpool and we went for a meal in this super fancy restaurant, Panoramic 34, with the most amazing view over the city. We dressed up all smart and fancy and I just felt like the most special girl in the world. The rest of the weekend we were touristing and I absolutely loved it. An organised tour with all the fun facts about the city, checking out where the Beatles used to hang out, we even visited a museum. My goodness, Liverpool is an awesome city! And on top of that, he got me some really fun presents and took me out shopping. Best. Birthday. Ever.

But then it got to his birthday and I failed. I couldn’t fly over on his birthday and all I had was a voucher for a play station game. Worst. Girlfriend. Ever.

So basically, from now on, he’s not allowed to do his birthday magic for me anymore because I cannot compete.

But what can I do, last weekend was out of this world.

We decided to book a hotel in Gulpen, the Netherlands, close to the border so we didn’t have to drive to far. We booked through Travelbird and chose for an arrangement with basically everything included, because with it just being a weekend in between normal work weeks, there wasn’t a lot of time for extensive googling and preparing.

When we arrived, we were welcomed with a simple but nice dinner: chicken schnitzel with a nice salad and chips. Tasty, and just what I needed after a long day at work.

We had a big room on the top floor, but I have to admit I was slightly disappointed by it. I loved the interior of the room and all, but it simply had not been taken care of well for a while now. Having worked as a housekeeper in a hotel myself, I know the things you are asked to do and I know that with 15 minutes for a daily upkeep and 30 minutes for a departure, you can keep the rooms looking sparkling and spotless quite easily. By doing basic daily upkeep and more extensive cleaning after a departure, a room will never look as worn out as the one in this hotel did. The hotel obviously invested in their furniture, having beautiful teakwood cupboards and modern bathroom facilities, but it simply wasn’t as vibrant as it could have been. The paint on the walls had stains, the shower had mould, the tap didn’t work well because of the built up calcium, and some of the lights weren’t working. That doesn’t happen when you have regular and decent housekeeping. I just find it odd how they would spend all that money on the fancy furniture and then not spending money on the upkeep. What a shame.

But that is really as far as the disappointment went, because our stay there was wonderful. I absolutely loved the breakfast buffet. It was an extensive continental breakfast. Several different kinds of bread, including croissants, raisin and sugar bread; a wide selection of spreads going from a variety of cheese and meat to chocolate sprinkles, honey, and jams; yoghurt, cereal and fruit; coffee, tea and juice; and a boiled egg for the fans. I love breakfast buffets. I went for seconds the first morning, and the second morning I think I even went for fifths.

Next on our planning: a hike. Also organised by the hotel. They had mapped out a 11km hike with a stopover halfway where we would be served a cuppa coffee and some vlaai, the local fruit pie (ours was a cherry one and it was delicious). The weather was quite decent for the end of October and we got to enjoy the beautiful autumn colours. (Seriously, autumn is my favourite season ever. The bad weather really can’t ruin the amazing colours and smells of a rotting forest 😉 ) Not really an out of this world feeling though, as we were not the only ones by far, but it hit the spot nevertheless.

In the evening we had a four course dinner planned for us in a partner hotel. We got back from our hike, had a read, had a shower, slid our feet under the table and enjoyed the heavenly food. My favourite was the soup: they served us a plate with some slow cooked duck, and in a big teapot they had the creamy mushroom soup that they poured over. It being mushroom season and mushrooms being some of my favourite things on this planet, I almost quacked like that duck would’ve done out of utter delight.

And how else to finish off the night then to find the local pub, play some pool, and have a secret laugh at some of the passers-by giving us the eye for being the worst but most fun pool players ever?

Before we went home the next day, we had one more hike in our feet. This one took us along the apple orchards the region is quite famous for. I had no idea apples that big could grow on trees that small, they don’t really look like trees but rather like oddly placed single branches. This hike we came across less people, and by the time we drove home we were utterly relaxed and I felt successfully celebrated.

I better start preparing now for the boyfriend’s birthday. Ow dear.