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Published: August 8th 2007
The biggest flower gardens in the world
Yep - you can do all that (and probably more) in Amsterdam, where I headed on the bank holiday weekend (that’s what they call them here, instead of ‘long weekend’) with Grace (a friend from Oz who now works with me - yes it is a small world), her husband and a mate of his.
Before we went, we had some difficulty getting accommodation. We were trying for a houseboat or an apartment, but the fact that we only wanted to stay two nights meant nothing was available. There was also a lack of hotel rooms (excepting the extraordinarily expensive ones). However, at the last minute, we managed to get an apartment after all!! Could not have worked out better - the apartment was great, heaps of space, great view and right in town. Nevertheless, I don’t think I will change to last minute bookings - it’s too stressful!
Amsterdam is lovely - the crooked terraces, the canals, the great vibe (and not just for the reasons you’d think) - it’s all good.
On Saturday afternoon, we went to Kuekenhof - to take advantage of the great weather and check out the biggest flower garden in the world
Now imagine the fields all covered with tulips. Unfortunately, due to the 'unseasonable warmth' this year, we were too late to see that.
to see (and tiptoe through) the tulips. Unfortunately, while there were lots of tulips in the gardens themselves, the fields of tulips had already been harvested (bugger that unseasonable warmth). Apparently, when the tulips are blooming, the fields are an amazing patchwork of colour. They say you can even see them from the plane so it was a shame to miss out. Still, it was lovely, and we feasted on strawberries and cram as we wandered the gardens.
We returned tour chalet for a pre dinner wine and cheese feast and then wandered through the red light district - full of big groups of blokes in drag or matching shirts (go the bux weekends). Managed to stumble across the same ‘coffee shop’ I went to when I was last in Amsterdamge about 11 years ago. We then found a really cool little club which, although slow on the mojito making, had a DJ playing some pretty cool sets.
Next day was ‘culcha’ day. We headed to the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum (most famous for its Rembrandts). The Van Gogh museum was really interesting - the paintings are organised chronologically, so you can see the development of his style.
This was the view from our apartment - pretty good for a last minute rental!
I had no idea that when good old Vincent decided to be an artist, he had no idea whether he could paint. He just thought ‘Yep, I think I’ll be an artist’. Turned out to be a good decision. In the last ten years of his life, he completed 900 paintings and over 1,100 drawings and sketches - a solid effort. I also didn’t know that van Gogh painted in so many different styles - including Japanese styles. As for the sunflowers - you can thank Vincent’s brother Theo for those. It was Theo who encouraged Vincent to try painting in bright colours … a good tip.
We then made our way to the Anne Frank house - a sobering reminder of man’s inhumanity to man. It is so sad to think that she died one month before she would have been free. We then wandered all around town, checking out all the sites. We checked out the Bloemenmarkt - supposedly ‘floating flower markets’, but not really floating any more - more like flower stalls along the edge of a canal, the Dam, Leidseplein and the Museumplien - main squares, the many bridges over the canals and the churches.
As with all tourists, we were amazed by the number of bikes parked everywhere (including on the wrong side of bridges - see photos). I noticed that all of the bikes were pretty crappy - no Cannondales that I saw!!! I guess then it does not matter if they are stolen. There was some funky colours though - I guess to make your easy to spot in a crowd.
To sustain us, (and believe me, we needed it after all that walking) we bought some poffertjes - sweet mini pancakes, a traditional Dutch street food (yes - the weekend was all about the food). Speaking of food, we had a delicious dinner out too - all good.
The plan for Monday we to do a canal cruise. We wanted to go with this not for profit, semi-illegal (they say no license to take paid tours because of the monopoly of the major tour boats) company that have smaller boats, are more informal and can get into more of the canals, but unfortunately Monday was rainy. The not for profit boats are so little they have no shelter, so do not run in the rain and we were
forced to give our cash to one of the big bad monopoly companies.
The rain had one good outcome though - it meant that we got to spend plenty more time eating and drinking! Didn’t make the Heineken Brewery or see the windmills in town or get to hire bikes - so will obviously have to go back.
Oh yeah - and in case you are wondering, I did some, but not all the things listed in the heading of this blog. No more info - my parents read this!
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