Hello to everyone from not-so-sunny Europe! Apparently it's summer here now, but you wouldn't know it. I was looking forward to finally having a birthday with sunshine and warmth, but alas! it was not to be. It's about 12C today, colder than it normally is in Melbourne at this time of year!
I spent my big day walking the streets of Amsterdam, and making my way to the Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. It has a lot of history, other than that linked to the tulip, and is hundreds of years old. It has a pretty good collection of euphorbias (not as big as mine, but some new species I don't have). The whole gardens were set up after the Black Plague to house a collection of medicinal plants. The herb garden is still there, though mostly containing culinary herbs.
The glass houses are amazing - on a scale unlike those in Australia's bot gardens. One had three separate climate areas, one full of Australian and South African plants, one was tropical and humid (to the point of fogging up my camera lens), and one was a dryland cactus and succulent collection.
Then there was the glasshouse with the butterfly and food plant collection (including coffee, tea and chocolate ... oh, and coca seedlings). It was interesting to see plants like jojoba, guarana, vanilla etc. that you don't normally associate as being a plant product (usually ingredients in a shampoo or something).
Lunch was an elegant affair (not) in the orangery at the Hortus - smoked salmon sandwiches, a pot of tea and a brownie (not that sort) - actually this is about the only place where you can buy a brownie that's NOT filled with hash, but that's another story.
I ran out of time to visit the zoo, but not to worry. I'll probably visit the one in London later on. Tomorrow morning I'm off to Aalsmeer, home of the largest flower market in the world! (it's only exciting to horticulture nerds). It all starts early, so I'm off to bed early tonight - no partying in Amsterdam for me.
Will attach heaps of photos, although probably not all at once. Some of the tail end of South America, some of my one day in Madrid, and lots of Amsterdam. Hope you like tulips (kidding).
excellent bus stop fruit stalls
between Cuenca and Quito, Ecuador
(must stop speaking spanish - it just confuses everybody).
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