After breakfast, I tried to take the most convenient and famous transportation of Amsterdam – the bicycle. I borrowed Tita Sonya’s bicycle and paddled away around their neighborhood. I’m not sure if it’s the bike or I just really haven’t done that for a long time, I fell down thrice. Haha! It was good that nobody was around when it happened.
A small car passed by me and I figured that it might be the guide who’s supposed to take us around Hengelo so I hurriedly went back to the house trying very hard not to stumble and fall down. I was right, Joe our very gracious tour guide got out of the car and told me that when he saw me biking from afar he knew right away that I wasn’t Dutch, I’m too clumsy on the bike to be a Dutch he said. Haha.
We headed to the palace of Twickel which was very lovely. It’s a little palace in the middle of a wide green pasture, it really was a relaxing sight. It’s a weekend retreat for the Dutch, lots of people were there having picnic but since the place was just huge you will not feel like the park was crowded. Trees, green grass, cows mooing, birds chirping, leaves of the trees making a relaxing sound – well, you get the picture. Coming from Dubai, it’s paradise for me. :p
We then headed to the city center of Hengelo. It was picture perfect, so perfect that it looked like a movie setting. They have preserved the quaint look of these houses that you will feel like you have entered a totally different time zone when you get there.
The houses were too perfect that it all looked like cardboards to me. Haha. I had to peek into one of those houses to make sure they were real. I was expecting to see a Stepford wife inside the house, complete with the neatly combed blonde hair and apron but it was an old lady seated on a couch in front of the television that I saw. The interior of the house was just plain-looking but it did have a cute little fireplace inside, I wonder if they still use it.
We walked some more on the narrow cobbled streets of this city. I really can’t believe that all those perfect little houses were real. As per Joe our tour guide, the people living there are not allowed by the municipality to change anything on the exterior of the house. They would have to get a permit from the municipality if they want to change something even for as little as repainting it or changing the window panels. They want to preserve the classical and cozy look of the city.
We had an outdoor lunch afterwards at our tour guide’s residence. He is married to a Filipina who graciously welcomed us to their house. It was a lovely garden lunch and the hospitality shown to us by the couple were just remarkable.
After the lovely meal, we headed to the border town of Germany nearest to Netherlands – I forgot the name of that town. :p We just roamed around some shopping areas and headed back to Hengelo. During the drive, Joe started throwing questions at me regarding my religion. He is a Jehovah’s witness and I have no qualms about that. But religion is a very sensitive topic for me to discuss because it always end up in a sour note. I didn’t want to ruin this lovely day so I just told him that in Dubai, we respect each other’s religious orientations and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I was brought up as a Catholic and I admit that I am not a very good one, but in times of dire needs I still turn to my own belief and that’s what keeps me going. I will stand firm on what I believe in so he can just stop wasting his time on trying to point out the flaws of my religion because he will never be successful on trying to convert me to his belief. But he just won’t stop talking about it so I had to walk away whenever he starts a conversation about it. I feel bad every time I do that because I like him as a person and he was very nice to us, but if he was expecting to get something from us (say, conversion of religion?) from the kindness he showed us then let’s just forget this day altogether, a kind deed isn’t kind at all if you’re expecting something in return. He finally gave up when he figured out that I am really getting annoyed with him talking about religion. :p
Before heading back home, we had our final stop at the Vanderpole icecream parlor, the very famous ice cream maker of Hengelo. It really is a must-try.
At around 8pm, Donato – Tita Sonya’s son, brought us to the open-air movie showing of Mama Mia. It was in the middle of the woods and a really good experience for me, until it started raining. We had to run to the nearby cottage and wait for it to stop. It was already late then and we have an early flight to Lisbon the next day, so we decided to call it a night and headed back home.