Cheese, tulips and the canals...

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Europe » Netherlands
May 1st 2011
Published: March 13th 2018
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Amsterdam is known for its beautiful canals and nightlife. Talk about cycling and Netherlands is the country that flashes across your eyes.

A few friends at office and I booked a weekend trip to Amsterdam and Belgium through Start Tours ( a travel company providing guided tours) starting from London. From London, we reached Dover in a bus and from Dover to Calais (in France), we took a ferry across the English Channel. It is about an hour and a half ride on the ferry. On the bus at Calais, we drove first to Brussels, spent a day there and then arrived in Netherlands.

That morning, we first visited Simon Hoeve cheese farm and clog factory in Katwoude. Gouda cheese is from Netherlands and the cheese farm we visited, had varieties of Gouda and other cheese. We were also given a demonstration of how the cheese is made and stored. We then came to the clogs section. Clogs are traditional wooden boots which are carved and painted in bright colours. We were also given a demonstration of how the clogs are made. At their shop, when I tried on a pair, they were heavy! But the colourful clogs with beautiful designs were lovely !

When in Netherlands, you cannot miss seeing a windmill. It is an icon with which Netherlands is mostly recognised with. Coming out of the cheese and the clog factory, we walked towards a traditional windmill with four blades attached to the top of a cone shaped roof.

We then drove down to Volendam, a picturesque town and a bay area. The boats and yachts anchored along the canal and the bright orange tiled roofs of the houses and buildings gave the town a very elegant look. After having spent some time there and having had lunch, we headed towards Keukenhof garden in Lisse.

Keukenhof garden – one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever visited. And the different shades and colours of the tulips in Keukenhof make the garden an exquisite one. As far as your sight goes, you can only see tulips. Red, pink, yellow, orange, purple, white and the shaded ones – one cannot stop falling in love with these beautiful flowers. We were lucky to have visited the garden during the first week of May as we got to see these flowers in bloom (The garden remains open only for a couple of months between mid-March and mid-May). Having spent a significant amount of time in the garden, we headed back to Amsterdam.

Later in the evening, we went on a boat ride along the world famous Amsterdam canals. I could see the city light up as the dusk drew upon the city, cyclists cycling along the road, heaps of cycles parked in a cycle parking lot and much more. What a beautiful city it is!

When we were back on the bus, our tour manager told us that there was a trip that could be arranged to the Red Light District of Amsterdam as it was one of the tourist attractions. If we (the tourists on the bus) planned to go, we would have to pay an extra amount as it was not a part of the package. The bus would drop us near the area after dinner and would pick us up after a couple of hours. Surprisingly, most of us on the bus including families with kids planned to go. We all knew it would be safe.

My friends and I were a group of 8 people, so we all decided to go. After dinner, the bus picked the willing tourists up and dropped us near the Red Light District area. Some parents on the bus were cool enough to take their teenage kids or younger ones to the area. Photography is strictly prohibited in the area . Our group walked down the road and turned left on to a street and that was it – the Red Light District. There were buildings on both sides of the canal with huge glass windows. And girls in erotic costumes stood behind the glass windows like mannequins. People sat on the edge of the canal and drank and smoked. There were theatres for shows etc. After having walked along the length of the street, we headed back to the bus. On the bus, I saw a parent having a healthy discussion about the area with her teenage child.

Next day, in the morning, we went to visit Madurodam in the district of Hague. Madurodam is a park with miniature models of the Dutch landmarks and its people. At around lunch time, we started from Madurodam towards Calais to take the ferry back to London.

I definitely plan to visit the Netherlands again!

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