This was an altogether different kind of spontaneous adventure for us. I'm talking, the kind where you rush your child off to a doctor across the border, because you decide that he deserves to see a pediatrician if he's miserable and crying from the pain. And no - just this once - our local general practitioner wasn't able to make the decision for us (as is custom here in The Netherlands). In my opinion, we're perfectly capable of deciding when and under which circumstances our children need a "specialist".
Many Dutch will disagree with this, but old habits die hard, and I feel so much more comfortable visiting a doctor specializing in children when my kids are sick. Just call me crazy.
Granted, the Dutch medical system works for many people and has a lot of advantages, but too often we've walked out of the general practitioner's office - sick and miserable - without a single test having been performed. I suppose my upbringing in a overly-preventative, money-hungry, we'll-test-you-until-the-cows-come-home-so-long-as-you-can-afford-medical-insurance, healthcare system has left a lasting impression on me. :)
Long story short, we drove for two hours to get superior medical attention from a pediatrician in Aachen, Germany, specializing in the privately insured. She took tests, determined exactly what Lukas had (a severe case of Strep Throat), and prescribed medicine that could only be picked up from the pharmacy at 4 o'clock that afternoon. Which meant we had time to kill.
How did we spend that time? Exploring the nearby Dutch city of Gulpen, just 17 km down the road. It was there that we took a walk around the gorgeous pond, beneath the pink flowering Hawthorn trees, ate some deliciously hearty Dutch pancakes at the historic "Pannekoeken Molen", and let Lukas tinker around on the playground for a bit -- allowing him to forget about his relentless burning throat, if only for a moment.
The moral of the story? You have to do what you feel is right for your kids... even if it involves ridiculously long drives for things seemingly absurd to others. Afterall, who knows where you'll end up, and what you'll discover along the way.
Gulpen - and surrounding South Limburg, with its endless rolling hills - brought us a bit of sunshine on a seemingly dark day. And Lukas? Lucky for us, he's feeling better already.