Don’t be surprised if one of the first things you see when entering the grounds of Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn is a peacock. They walk around in the stables area, and if you’re lucky they show you their lovely colours.
I visited the palace a week ago to see the exhibition “Sisi, sprookje & werkelijkheid” (Sisi, fairy tale & reality), which was opened by Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and the great-grandson of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Archduke Michael (* 1949) on 9 April. It opened for the public on 10 April and will be on display until 27 September 2015. It is the largest exhibition about the Empress outside Austria ever. Badly readable signs, especially at the beginning of the exhibition, but I hope the museum keeps the promise that they will be better soon. Too much complaints. But the exhibition itself is a must for people who are interested, not only in the fairy tale princess from the unforgettable and romantic Sissi-films of the 1950s with Romy Schneider and Karlheinz Böhm, but also the ones who are interested in “meeting” the more realistic version. From childhood to death, from the engagement and marriage to her travels and beauty obsession. Everything is there. Including an item about her two visits to the Netherlands in 1884-1885. In case you didn’t know … she loved to travel. Unfortunately photographing is not allowed inside, so all I can show is the banners on the wall of the wing of the palace where the exhibition is being held. When I went to have lunch in the café, I had a special Sisi-chocolate with my tea, and I had one of the few Austrian dishes on the menu. There is a wonderful book published in connection with the exhibition, with the same title, written by Katrin Unterreiner and Patric Aalders together with Anne-Dirk Renting, and published by WalburgPress. Only in Dutch though as far as I know. I accidentally happened to meet Patric at the palace and had my book signed.
After my visit to the exhibition and lunch I went into the park of Castle Het Oude Loo. The park, unfortunately not the castle, is open in the months of April and May. Unfortunately I was there a bit too early in the season. May is definitely the best month to go. The weather wasn’t very good, and I was lucky it only start raining at the end of my walk. I had brought my umbrella though. The castle is a 15th century hunting castle with a moat around it. It is still in use by the Dutch royal family occasionally. This park is not included in your entrance ticket for the palace though.