Yesterday, we moved on from Apeldoorn to Haarlem. Originally, I had planned to stay in Amsterdam, but Rick Steves advises that Haarlem is much homier and friendlier and less crowded. Also, I found the hotel prices were much more affordable. Before we went to Haarlem, we decided to visit Apenheul, a special zoo that is home to monkeys and other related creatures. I knew it would be a very kid friendly place, but it was also fun for us to explore. We got there fairly early. As it turned out, getting there somewhat early was a good thing. The park wasn’t too crowded and there was plenty of parking available. It was 17,50 euros for each ticket, which was less than I was expecting.
We saw gorillas, ring tailed lemurs, orangutans, and other adorable primates, many of which were free range and allowed to walk among the masses. Most of them didn’t mingle too much with park visitors, but there were a few that were practically tame. Some people carried monkey bags with them because if you aren’t careful, they can get into your stuff. We had no such trouble. The only trouble we had involved rain, which got a little harder as we were leaving the park. We got out of there at just the right time.
It took about 90 minutes to get to Haarlem. Once we did, we found the hotel and the vast parking garage located right next to it. We checked into the executive suite I booked. I was lucky enough to have a $150 coupon, so it was really a steal. We are staying at the Carlton Square Hotel, which features a full and complimentary minibar. And when I say full, I mean full. There are generous decanters of whisky and cognac as well as vodka, gin, wine and beer. There are also soft drinks, peanuts, and chocolates… We stayed at the Carlton George Hotel in Glasgow and The Dominican hotel in Brussels. Both are sister hotels, but only the Carlton George had a free bar in it. The Carlton George wasn’t as nice as this hotel is. I have decided I like this chain, though. I would have booked their Amsterdam property, but it was too pricey.
After offloading our stuff, we went to a local restaurant and enjoyed some beer and burgers. Just across the street is a coffeeshop, where one can buy weed. Bill was a little put off by it, but I read up on it and it actually gets pretty good ratings.
Later, we went to the hotel bar, which offers a nice selection of whiskys and great 80s music, which did a lot to make me feel less old. Bill and I downed a few rounds as I said goodbye to my 42nd year on the planet…