Middelburg, Netherlands: The hotel with the parrot and the desperate need of beer

While planning our cross-country Netherlands+tiny bit of Belgium road trip, a city called Middelburg made its way into our itinerary. Why Middelburg?

Well, we just needed to fill in a gap between Alkmaar and Ghent (Belgium) and had already seen most of the interesting cities and touristic sites in between.

And we wondered; would we enjoy Middelburg as something more than just a random place to pass through while on our way to somewhere else? Or would Middelburg just be the insignificant hook-up you have while getting over a relationship before jumping into another?

Unlike most of the other destinations on our trip, we had absolutely no idea what we’d get up to in Middelburg, apart from drinking beer at some terrace bar. And believe me, sticking to that plan was as easy as pie!

Upon arrival at the hotel (Hotel de Nieuwe Doelen) I was given the key to a suite. I didn’t even realize I’d booked a suite in the first place, so I was pleasantly surprised. Whether the hotel had made some kind of mistake, or I simply just happen to have goldfish memory, remains a mystery. Before you ask, I didn’t pay a high price for the room!

Our suite was enormous and even had a jacuzzi in the bathroom. Did I use it? Heck yeah!

Before heading out to explore the city of Middelburg, we also discovered that the hotel has its own mascot: a parrot. One that talks. Well, it mainly just says “hello”. But how freaking awesome is that? I’m jealous. I want my own parrot too!

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So what did we get up to in Middelburg?

Not much. We were way too warm, sweaty and sticky to even function like normal human beings and all we wanted was to sit down somewhere in the shade with an ice-cold beer.

But we did force ourselves to walk around a bit and actually see the town center before escaping the heat and seeking refuge at whatever bar we’d happen to find.

We had picked up a city map at the front desk of our hotel, and studied it while wandering around.

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What seemed to be the most interesting landmark in the city, was the beautiful town hall, which is also where most of the terrace cafes were located. How convenient!

We struggled to get any clear photos of the Town Hall due to the sun blinding my eyes, my lens, everything – and me not being tech savvy enough to figure out how to take good photos even when the sun is getting in the way (I’m a slow learner).

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We also saw the Abbey Tower of Long John. Apparently you can climb all the stairs to the top and get a great view of the city. We would have done that if we weren’t so dehydrated from the sun. And lazy.

By the canal, we saw a lot of beautiful houseboats of different colors, decorated with flowers. I could definitely see myself living in one of those and waking up to the view of the canal every day. Now, that would have been spectacular!

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We finished our walk around town, and treated ourselves with a couple of well deserved pints at a terrace cafe on the main square. In lack of better things to do, I did a whole lot of people-watching and completely ignored my boyfriend for a sec. Totally not on purpose. And just like a toddler, my boyfriend will also do anything to get my attention – especially things that piss me off.

This time, he decided it would be funny to take sneaky paparazzi photos of me from awful angles, while I was sitting there, looking at people, drinking beer or texting. They were the ugliest pictures I’d ever seen and he refused to delete them. Sadly, they’re also the only photos I have of myself from Middelburg, so I might as well post one. The only one where I was actually paying attention to him and mocking myself as much as he was mocking me. What a healthy relationship!

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So, is Middelburg worth your time?

As unmotivated as I may have seemed to be – it was mainly due to the weather and not the town itself. Middelburg is actually a pretty charming little gem and I’d love to go back. And stay at the same hotel, obviously.

Because, how could you not stay at a hotel that has its own parrot?!

What else is there to do in Middelburg?

  • Are you traveling with children? Do you like theme parks? Visit the Mini Mundi miniature park, amusement park and indoor play area!
  • Another activity for the kids is the Kinderboerderij de Klepperhoeve – a farm/petting zoo with plenty of activities for the little ones.
  • Do you like to visit botanical gardens? Bring your camera and prepare to take some stunning photos at Middellandse Zeetuin Uilenbroek.

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The Story of my trip to Narbonne (South of France) – and why YOU should visit!

“Seriously?! You’re going to Narbonne….without me?”

Those were the words that came out of my boyfriend’s mouth after I told him I’d continue traveling for a week, instead of going home right after my trip to Toulouse. Little did I know that he had planned for us to explore that town together. Little did I know that he even knew anything about Narbonne at all – because I sure didn’t (then again, I’m not the French one in this relationship).

My reason for booking a night in Narbonne was no other than it being conveniently located as an overnight stay, before continuing my journey to Spain. Based on the photos I’d seen online, it did also look like a nice little place to hang out for a day. Not even for a second did it cross my mind that my significant other had considered it as a perfect location for a romantic weekend getaway and the ultimate place to go for a wine tasting experience.

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As I arrived at the Gare Routière (the bus station), I was greeted with sunshine. And heat. My black polka dot dress was accessorized with black tights underneath, and my cleavage and bare sleeves were hidden inside of my denim jacket. For the climate back home, that would have been a perfectly appropriate outfit for a spring day. Maybe I’d even add a scarf, just for the sake of layering. But here, all those layers were killing me. I was sweating like a pig. I felt like the spirit of the town was calling me, saying something along the lines of “welcome to Narbonne. Now, take off your clothes!”

My accommodation for the night was a lovely bed&breakfast called La Maison Gustave. The girl at the reception helped me carry my luggage to the room and gave me a list of restaurants to check out and things to do in Narbonne. The room looked exactly like the kind of bedroom I always wished I had; Scandinavian style interior, light colors and with a gorgeous view from the window. From my room I could see the old palace and it looked absolutely amazing! I don’t know about you, but that sure beats the view I’ve got from my bedroom window at home (view over a large construction site).

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For one second there, I imagined all the gorgeous Instagram-photos that could’ve been shot there. Just imagine a large coffee cup and avocado toasts and me in a silk robe, as part of a pretend “breakfast in bed” sorta photo shoot …Or don’t.

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I removed my sticky black tights and took off my jacket before heading out to explore the town. I wanted to visit the palace (Palais des Archevêques) and the Narbonne Cathedral which is situated right next to the palace, and I wanted to take some beautiful photos by the Canal de la Robine.

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As much as I’d like to pretend I’m not, I’m probably always gonna be that stereotypical woman who loves to go shopping. My fingers were itching to spend money on something new – whether it would be artisan biscuits, new books, sandals, hair care products, whatever. But, being on a limited budget I decided I’d be better off splurging on a huge meal later, instead of buying a bunch of stuff I’d have to carry around for the rest of my journey. So I went to a bakery and bought myself a pastry instead.

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Biggest regret of the day. The pastry, a religieuse (why on earth that thing is called “religious” remains a mystery to me), left my hands sticky with melted chocolate sauce going everywhere, while chocolate cream kept pouring out as I took a bite of the pastry. How was it even possible to stuff that much cream inside of that little thing? And why didn’t anyone ever tell me those should be eaten with a spoon, and not with my hands. My face ended up looking like a two year old’s face after eating chocolate cake for the very first time. Good thing I wasn’t there on a date!

I wandered around for a couple of hours until my feet started hurting, thanks to the combination of poor quality shoes and sweaty, swollen feet. Whoever said ballet flats are good for long walks is a big fat liar. By then I’d done quite a lot of window shopping (and no actual shopping), I’d visited the Tourism Office (to find out what I could have done in Narbonne if I had more time – or a car), I’d gotten lost while wandering off to places that turned out to be all residential neighborhoods with nothing to see (where an old man laughed at me and said “clearly you’re lost, little girl” in French).

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I finished the evening with a kind of expensive but delicious meal at Restaurant Gaia. The waiters were surprised, and seemed quite confused – kind of uncomfortable, even – to see someone enter the restaurant without a companion. As if solo travelers don’t eat?

Because of this strange welcome, I already regretted entering the restaurant by myself. I should have just ordered a burger somewhere. It would have made me feel less humiliated. But getting up as soon as I’d been seated, to make my great escape would look even more ridiculous, so I decided to stay.

I ordered a three-course menu, completely forgetting about the fact that I was alone and should have just gone for a main dish and get the eff out of there as soon as possible. To make matters worse, they didn’t serve wine by the glass, so I had to take a half bottle. Fine, I thought. It was probably small anyway. Right?

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Wrong. It got me drunk. And the staff gave me a bunch of magazines to read, while eating. Probably because I looked like a sad, lonely, pathetic little girl who’s getting drunk on her own and comfort-eating like crazy. I’m sure they thought I was single, with six cats waiting for me at home. I’m sure I would have thought the same if someone like me walked into a fancy restaurant all by herself, got drunk and ate a huge meal – without anyone to share the experience with.

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I must admit, though, the food was pretty damn delicious. By the time I got the dessert, I was too drunk to remember to take a picture. Hence its absence.

Before going to sleep, I watched Eurovision on TV and let my sweaty, swollen feet rest on the comfortable, Instagrammable bed.

Narbonne, I shall re-visit you. But next time, I’m bringing a plus one!

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So, if this post made you go “I’ll put some pants on, pack my bags and go there ASAP”, here are some ideas for what to do in Narbonne (apart from the things already mentioned):

In the town center:

Near Narbonne (by car)

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