Published: April 26th 2012April 26th 2012
My home exchange with Helen and Enrique on the German Dutch border was lovely and on Friday I set off to drive to Amsterdam. Negotiating the very busy roads - mostly motorways was easier than it would have been since I had Sally Satnav to guide my way. I even managed to get off the motorways and cross a large parkland area The Hoge Veluwe National Park (a bit like driving through the New Forest) . In the middle there is the Kroller Muller Museum - a sculpture park and collection of many Van Gogh paintings as well as other artworks - so I spent some time there including time for a nice cup of coffee and Dutch apple cake. Japanese visitors galore seem to like having their photos taken beside a famous artwork....I prefer to look ...and having been to the Van Gogh and his Letters exhibition at the Royal Academy on London last year it was even more interesting to see more of his works. Almond blossom tree in particular grabbed my attention. You could spend a day there walking around the sculpture park outside ...and I saw my first Giacometti - I like these skinny figures. Angela, you
would would love it there. There was a series of Gilbert and George canvasses depicitng them on an english country walk...huge canvases - I rather liked them.
So it was on to the hotel near Amsterdam airport and Suzanne arrived on a flight from Newcastle late in the afternoon. We took advantage of the free hotel shuttle to the airport and then got trains into the centre. Our travels worked out well even after the train crash on the Saturday we managed to get a train round a different line back to the airport. And lucky we weren't on the train that crashed.
It's become a tradition for Suz and I to have a boat trip and Amsterdam is the place for that of course. So round the canals we cruised on various routes and also walked and walked enjoying the city sights lovely old canal houses , the bikes over the canal bridges, trees are just coming into leaf so it's turning green too. The sky was a bit ominous at times but the afternoon brought out the sun and we even has the glass roof of the boat moved back. After another dose of art at
the Van Gogh museum we felt we had enough art for the time being....it's a good strategy these days to book your tickets in advance for any museum and then you can skip the queue and go in the fast lane.
We had found a very nice restaurant on the Friday night and somehow found we were back in that direction on Saturday - so we knew how nice the food and service was so in we went...exposed brick walls with the lower half clad in wooden panels and chandeliers - there was a really nice atmosphere....and the food was very good.
For Sunday I was still trying to find windmills for Suzanne and the place we planned originally was a bit of a drive so I googled "where to find windmills near Amsterdam?" and up came this place Zaanse Schans - only about 9 miles. So off we went - and by the river there is a cute village and several working mills- very nice for walking around there. And wonders it didn't cost anything!!! I have found Holland quite expensive.
So after more nice coffee and Dutch apple cake we drove on a bit further
out of the city and were wowed by the sight of fields of tulips as we approached the Keukenhof Gardens. They are well organised for parking and with our pre-booked tickets in we went skipping a long queue. So this was something I have wanted to see since I was a little girl and my mum had been there ...and I was not dissapointed - it exceeded all my expectations. The floral displays are stunning, scents of masses of hyacynths assail you... there are wonderful tall old trees... swathes of spring flowers , small lakes and fountains... this is heaven if you like spring flowers. And to cap it all the sun shone and the sky was blue so we had a most wonderful 3-4 hours wandering around this beautiful place. Sorry my camera battery went so I havent got so many photos as I would have had - but Suz took lots for me so she will email them to me.
I had booked my final hotel night at a place called Wassenar which made it easy to get Suzanne on a bus back to the airport. This was a lovely small hotel in a woodland setting and
very friendly staff. So it was Bye Bye to Suz and great to have spent a weekend with my lovely daughter.
Monday it was driving back through Holland ( pick up,Shandy, my friend who was hitching the ride)then Belgium then France to Dunkerque for the ferry. In view of threatening storms I rang up and was told I could get an earlier ferry which was great and the crossing was pretty calm - then it's only about a 2 hour drive back home - on the way stopping in a pub in Rye for a guinness.
So that's the end of my travels for a little while - I think I will home for at least a month.
Love to everyone. xxxx
There are more photos below