Posted by: ourtravelingcircus | July 21, 2012

From the sublime to the ridiculous

Every trip needs a really creepy experience, and we haven’t had one yet. It was time.

We took a long bike ride this afternoon, and stopped by a cafe for some much needed ice cream. I tried the door because we weren’t sure the place was open. It was a little dim and smoky inside, and I could make out a table filled with old men. At the same time, Tim tried another door, which was locked. I went over to tell him that this might not be the best place to stop but before we could talk, a woman opened the door Tim had just tried, and we all went in and sat down. The woman kind of glared at us and said accusingly, “Someone opened the door over there and then poof! They were gone. Why didn’t you come in?” She laughed and shook her head like this was the stupidest thing she’d ever seen anyone do.

We were a little taken aback at that but it was one of those situations where you feel a bit caught. We ordered ice cream and looked around. She had waved us to a part of the restaurant that apparently isn’t used anymore. There were piles of clothing on one of the tables, an ancient accordion on another, and the condiments had peeling labels and looked like they were about twenty years old. There was a chalkboard sign outside advertising “Oma’s Groenten Soep,” which I guess explains the collection of antique ladles hung all around every wall. There were about fifty sets in all.

I will say the ice cream was really great, but we ate it fast, wanting to get out of there because the whole atmosphere felt like something out of a bad movie. Tim went to the other room to pay and I made a trip to the ladies’ room. I opened the door and just didn’t expect a tandem bike to be leaning against the wall. The toilet was the handicapped variety, very high up, and very much like a throne. The lights wouldn’t go on all the way and I groped around the wall, trying to find another switch. The sink was covered in cosmetic bottles and hairspray, and there was a sign by the mirror that said, “Fifty cents, please.” To pay for the privilege of using what was quite possibly the oddest bathroom I’ve ever seen in the oddest restaurant was the last straw. I decided I didn’t need a bathroom if it had to be that one.

We almost stampeded to the door, all of us wanting to be the first one out. But the door we’d come in through was locked again. The woman must have heard us trying to open it but didn’t come back to let us out. We couldn’t figure out the lock and I have to say that I was beginning to panic about being caught forever in this place. We went through to the other side of the restaurant, and there was the table full of old men, still playing cards in a room that looked like it had been decorated in 1930 and preserved as a museum piece, complete with the card playing men. They stared at us in hostile silence as we tried to figure out how to get out this door, which wasn’t locked but still difficult to open. Whatever was going on at the table felt illegal, and we were so relieved to escape outside. As we got back on our bikes, we tried not to laugh loudly enough that they could hear us inside but it was really difficult.

Huizinga is not an uncommon name in west Michigan. Maybe they were trying to escape this branch of the family?

If you’re ever in Skerpenzeel, avoid the Cafe De Veehandel at all costs.



  1. I’d say this is the strangest ice cream place I’ve ever heard of.

  2. Completely hilarious! A Dutch girl I used to work with at Compulit always joked about the Dutch mafia – the Van Cosa Nostra. Apparently you found the source…

  3. Oh my goodness… How creepy….

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