Sunday, January 6, 2008
Old long since...
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne.
Like Valentines' Day, it seems that many a New Years Eves get accurately tucked away in the "Romantic Events That SHOULD Have" file. Theatrical images of thirty thousand balloons dropping over extravagantly dressed party goers. That special someone who had been watching you from afar makes a bold step from behind the last remaining seconds of the year. Healthy salutes to the old and warm welcomes to the new as teary-eyed toasts introduce bubbly beverages that never taste as good as they do on New Years Eve.
Fantastical scenes typically loop over and over in my mind as December 31st jogs toward me.
But the reality often looks something like going to bed at 10:13 pm with Pringles crumbs stuck on my pyjamas and the last drop of diet coke still lingering on my lips.
And with the way the last few years have been, sometimes Dave and I are together on that night. Sometimes not. Although it's always heart warming to hear his voice as the clock strikes 12, I love it most when we're together.
With a sigh of relief, I am happy to report that this recently passed new years eve turned me into a romantic once again. Sometime on the 28th, D got the idea to look for a fun place for us to go for New Years, and - miraculously - was able to confirm a reservation for all three of us at a beautiful chateau hotel in Valkenburg, a suburb of Maastricht.
After a 2.5 hour train and a short taxi ride, Chateau St. Gerlach welcomed us warmly with all sorts of holiday cheer. Even Number Five got a grand reception, complete with treats and toys waiting for him in our room.
St. Gerlach is part of a privately-owned chain of small boutique hotels, each of them residing in some fantastic old building which has been re-purposed as a five star lodge. To set the scene...imagine a set of rolling hills coming up behind the neck of a grandiose but petite castle, with a green lawn sprawl that looks like it could blanket a medium-sized lake. There are four buildings on the grounds, one of which used to be a monastery, and the estate's history dates back to the 12th century.
The owner has paired a few modern pieces of art against this perfect country baroque backdrop which gives both old and new a unique sense of balance and placement. Cozy rooms. Lovely staff. There was nothing we could've wanted beyond what was given.
We had amazing food while there...a 4-course dinner the first night. And of course the best of it being on the 31st...a black tie event (had to dust off a tux and dress, which in itself was huge entertainment...D worked on tying his bowtie for about an hour). A gifted culinary writer could do the meal more justice, but I will just say that if the scallops they served were the last thing left to eat on the planet, I would cross oceans for a bite.
The party continued after dinner outside the chateau, where they arranged a private fireworks show. We actually headed back to the room at 11:30 to tend to Number Five, who had been gnawing his tail down to a nub, scared by the miscellaneous firecrackers that had been going off all day. Surely this big display was going to put him over his puppy-sized limit for noise disruption.
So we welcomed in 2008 in our jammies, sitting next to a pile of well-serving formal duds, full of delicious food, holding our puppy in the dark and letting him know everything was going to be okay.
I think 2008 is going to be a great year.