Sunday, July 17, 2011

Het Loo Palace, Apeldoorn, the Netherlands:

Last weekend I went to Het Loo Paleis (English: The Woods Palace)–which is historically the residence of the House of Orange-Nassau. The palace is done up in the Dutch Baroque manner, with a restored Baroque/French formal garden around back, to match. Dutch history is so incredibly layered, rich and always full of subtle surprises. The place was originally built between 1684-1686 for stadholder and Prince of Orange–King William III and his wife Queen Mary II–who together made up the duo 'William & Mary'. That's right people, the King of England, was once Dutch. I have a thing for Baroque architecture–usually palaces–and their gardens. The way the plants/shrubs have been just perfectly laid out and meticulously trimmed, gives me chills. For me, formal gardens and their curved and trimmed components come from the pages of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'. So, for me, in visiting Het Loo, the imaginary and intangible come to life. Love that. These days, the palace–once a pleasure retreat–is a national museum open to the public. Stop by and seep in the history. Have a stroll through the garden. The Netherlands really is, such a beautiful place. And one of the reasons, I feel, is due to the scale of the built environment. Everything is just a bit tiny-er in the Netherlands. There's even suffix a suffix that you can add to the end of almost any Dutch word, to make it the 'tiny' version. I give you: lepel (meaning a spoon), and lepelje (meaning a 'tiny' spoon). The je suffix in Dutch basically brings the scale of anything down to, Dutch scale. I really like that. Because who really wants to say things like 'the small cup' in English, when in Dutch you can say 'kupje', meaning a tiny cup. A very non threatening tone can therefore be added to almost any Dutch word, with je. Kerkje, stoelje, huisje. It's so fun, and I love that about Dutch. And I've learned that saying 'I love ___', to profess your love for, say–your favorite pair of pants, is a very American expression to use, when in Europe. People here don't love things. So really, you could say that Het Loo is a, paleisje–a 'tiny' palace. It quite tiny... but still grand, like most of the Dutch landscape. It's moments like that afternoon at Het Loo, that remind me of why I wanted to move to Europe in the first place: for the architecture, for the history, for the art, and for the relaxed and liberal lifestyle that so well suits me. And not to mention all that lekker Goude Oud kaas–which in English, means cheese.