Monthly Archives: April 2011

Everything’s coming up.. Tulips!

Yesterday, April 25, 2011, marked the day when I made the pilgrimage to see “the tulips.”  This was an important trip for me, as I can now answer the following questions from family, friends, acquaintance, etc:

Q: Oh you lived in Holland?  Cool.

A: Yes, Holland was amazing.

Q: Well I don’t know much about it, but I think.. oh right- don’t they have like, tulips there?

A: That’s correct, Holland is well known for its tulips.

Q: So did you ever go to see them?

A: YES!!

Yes I did.  I dragged my poor boyfriend (who was not too keen on seeing thousands of pretty flowers) to the largest tourist attraction in Holland.  We thought we would be the only ones there under the age of 55, and over the age of 10, but luckily this was not the case.  There were other young people there, and other Dutch people as well.  (It’s common in Holland that most Dutch people have never, and will never see the tulips).

Keukenhof is actually pretty well done, considering it’s basically like a giant garden in the middle of nowhere.  Although it was jam packed with tourists, you still get a sense of being in this slightly surreal world.  The entire place is just so happy; tulips in every color possible lay in beautiful patterns on the ground, there are fragrant trees at the peak of their bloom, and birds sing as if on cue.  There are the typical Dutch treats as well: fresh stroopwafels, Beenham sandwiches, appeltart, Poffertjes and more!  I kind of felt like I was Dorthy and had just landed in a Dutch Oz!

We were lucky to get to see the hat fashion show, which they do every year on Easter Monday, as well as tour the indoor gardens named after Dutch royalty.  Keukenhof has all sorts of activities on every day that they are open from March 24- May 20th.  My advice would be to pick a weekday when it’s not so crowded, charge up your camera, and prepare to see more flowers than you’ve ever seen before.  If you go, visit: Keukenhof.nl for more details.

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I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bikeee!

To travel with ease in Amsterdam, you must own a bike.  This is an indisputable statement.  Though there are trams, buses, and a short metro line, the best way to get where you’re going is to hop on your bicycle and ride.  Learning to bike in such a busy city with narrow streets takes much practice, as I learned upon my arrival here.  In the States, bikes are often seen as a “problem” on the road.  In The Netherlands, the opposite is true: to the bikers (which is most of the population) the cars are the problem.  Bikers always have the right of way, and in the case of a bike/car accident, I recently learned that no matter what the situation, it will be the car drivers fault 99% of the time. Because it’s the law that vehicle drivers need to be aware of bikers, and give them the right of way at all times, things remain relatively safe.

Cycling as a form of transportation has its pluses and minuses.  A major minus is cycling in the rain, wind, sleet, snow or hail; in a word: miserable.  However I must say, that the overall benefits conquer the negative component.  Biking is an excellent form of exercise, it’s often the quickest way to get somewhere (at least in Amsterdam), and it is good for the Earth!

The most impressive thing about the bikers in Amsterdam, is the number of things they can do while on their bikes.  This includes but is not limited to: calling & texting, eating, applying makeup, singing opera, putting on/taking off clothing, carrying various household items, and transporting many children.  Biking is a way of life, not just mere recreation.  The important thing to remember as a tourist in The Netherlands is that biking is serious business.  If you accidentally step into a bike lane here, it’s the equivalent of standing in the middle of a multi-lane highway in another country.  If ten bikes have to suddenly brake for one tourist, it’s not a pleasant sight.  You will get sworn at, you will have obnoxious bells rung at you, and you will think twice before you step in a red bike lane again!

A few photos to celebrate this unique form of transport:

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Dining Outdoors

Pasta in front of the house- with Simon (photographer), Hugo and Matthijs!

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