Anyone who has had Leni’s chips would understand. Whether it is with her beef stew, her falafel, her mustard sauce or any of her fabulous meals, you just have to have more, and so we did. Stronger from our possibly generalised Netherlands’ chips experience, and sated with music, we headed back to the ferry on Hook of Holland.
The 4-hour journey started later than planned as the sheer loveliness and hospitality of the locals (and the possibility of more chips) were so hard to part from. Nonetheless, we made our way on the A7 heading south, passed the lovely hill- ‘bridge’ to Den Oever and beyond. It was getting late and the idea of an hour break to nap and recharge our batteries was feeling less and less unreasonable.
So we decided to stop at a reasonably priced hotel on the way and Hoorn was the selected city. We went towards and round the ‘centrum’ and grew desperate. That is were we saw it. It started with its first clue: it read Westfries. Strong from my recent and still buzzing fried potatoes experience, I followed my instinct and as the car guide, recommended that we followed Westfries.
And sure enough, before we knew it, we caught sight of something spelling Guesthaus. With much effort, I contained a ‘I told you so’ but a version of it escaped even my most tired bosy and I exclaimed ‘Yesss!’ which you can freely translate as ‘I was right!’ if ‘I told you so’ doesn’t quite do the trick.
The car spaces seem to be mostly disabled parking but it seemedd to make sense as they were quite in front of the building and there were more parking spaces within a slightly more remote area. Rather than moving the car prematurely, one of my more level-headed travel companion decided to enquire first as to availability and upon confirmation, unload our luggage (in particular that huge piano I travel around with) before taking the car in a more appropriate space.
My friend therefore disappeared letting us wonder for quite a few minutes, while I realised I had not even fathomed the possibility that there could be no space for us. Impatient, we barely saw the rain starting, or the darkness taking over. A figure started appearing hurrying through these menacingly foreboding omens and it is when the weather’s whims stroke us.
So? I asked eagerly. My friend took the time to enter, close the door before turning to us. For a minute, I had again forgotten about the wetness and darkness outside or maybe they had prompted my expectations for a prompter answer. A laugh is what came out first. I reasoned with myself scolding myself about my impatience. But the laugh had nothing to do with my reaction I was about to find out. “There is no place for us here”, I heard. “What?! What do you mean?”, I was confused with the crisses on my enquiring forehead to prove it. “Well, it’s not a guest house”, were the next words, “it’s a guesthaus”. Well when it is spelled, it is that tiny clearer but there is still at least half the room for the some misunderstanding still present in the verbal pronunciation. Thankfully an explanation followed. “Guesthaus in Dutch means hospital”.
Well what followed was a confusion of laughs, nervous screams, exhaling sighs and the noises that come out when you realise that what you thought was the end of your journey was barely a break. I sat in the car, chosing eventually to laugh my head of at the idea that the mere mention of chips, albeit fries, had led me and my travelling companions astray.