I go on a journey... do you want to join?
I am leaving, may I take you with me on my journey?
September 2021 and I was on a roadtrip through Italy. Driving around in my little car without a plan. On my own. From adventure to adventure. From place to place. From day to day.
And somewhere, of course, I had to return home. To work and life in Haarlem. The work I was convinced I would do until well after my retirement and to Haarlem, where I would never leave again...
From my last destination in Italy, I am looking for the route back home. Via Austria? Switzerland? Luxembourg catches my eye. Via Switzerland to Luxembourg home. On the internet I look for a place to stay for the night. A small castle appears on my screen. It doesn't let me go when I look at the rest of the accommodation. I have to go there. Something special is going to happen there, I feel. I literally write this in my travel diary on the day I book it:
"Something special is going to happen there. I must go there...".
A beautiful route takes me to the castle, which dates from 1634. I am immediately enchanted. In the centuries-old hall I meet the lord of the castle. A totally overdressed English dandy. We look at each other. Something happens. An indescribable look of recognition. The place is magical. All the stories that have lived there for almost 400 years. You can hear them if you're very quiet...
He invites me to dinner in the evening and picks me up in his bright red Morgan vintage car. The sun is shining, the roof open, the wind in my hair. In the restaurant, he asks me to tell him my story. He wants to know why I hit him. And I tell him. About my life. About the somewhat awkward and painful beginning, about all the beauty I have now. At the beautiful point where I am now, full of passion and fun with many dear beautiful people around me. The perfect job. In a beautiful country in a lovely house in super nice Haarlem.
I book one more day and then I go back home. With pain in my heart. I would have liked to stay a bit longer.... It feels like home here.
Pascal, the lord of the castle, and I meet in Haarlem. He is a busy and inspiring man, with an extreme eye for beauty and detail. One of his activities, as an architect, is buying up old dilapidated buildings and renovating them. This was the case with the Château de Clémency.
He has turned it into an experience. Five rooms, each with a theme. There's The Sherlock, you feel the stories, you smell the mystery. The Roaring '20s. A room from the 1920s. The golden year of travel. People travelled in luxury on beautiful cruise ships. And there is The Peggy's. A room inspired by the Belle Epoque. The beautiful century, the golden age, life is allowed to be celebrated. The fourth room is The Tribute. A tribute to the hard working steel and mine workers.
The last room is Pascal's Angels. And since recently renamed Pascal's Angel. Because the only angel who may live there is me. Long story short: I have been living in the castle since January. The top floor of the castle is a beautiful loft, where I have taken up residence. And from there, I get to manage the castle. Welcoming guests and giving them a pleasant stay. The philosophy of the castle is meeting and having fun. It has a communal kitchen, a living room/library, a garden and even soon a sauna. Of course, there is also a lot of beautiful art and wonderful details. It is a journey in time. And above all, time to enjoy and relax.
See for more info our website: www.chateaudeclemency.lu
Follow your heart... always....
Mayke van Straalen