With a little planning and a lot of dumb luck we stumbled into some of the most picturesque villages as we made our way toward Hilversum where we will be meeting our daughters for a week of cycling. Maarssen is a village north of Utrecht on the River Vecht - a lovely river with an unlovely-sounding name at least to English-speakers sounding like someone with lung congestion trying to catch a breath... something like Fegkscht. Nevertheless it has wonderful boats, gorgeous castles and a great waterfront French restaurant where one can sit in the sun and watch the constant parade of classic boats passing through the drawbridge.
From Maarssen we pedaled along the Vecht, past castles, and on through deep ancient forest to the beautiful village of Lage Vuursche, The name means literally "Low Fire" - the entire forest is called that although we haven't figured out the origin of the name.
"The village has a Regal status because Princess Beatrix once again lives at Drakenstein Castle. Although the castle is almost completely hidden from view, it has a great appeal to many."
The Princess (actually the Queen Mother) must have been in residence because the security around the castle was very heavy. There were so many attractive restaurants and we had so little time that we took a glass of wine and a small snack in several, ending our evening with a luscious coffee ice cream concoction at the cozy 150 year old hearth of De Lage Vuursche.