Tiptoe through the Tulips and More
Amsterdam is one of Europe’s treasure troves for lovers of architecture both in the historic and in terms of modern design; the charming gabled houses, houseboats, and canals of Amsterdam are downright romantic! Bicycles by the hundreds of thousands keep all the population in great shape and moving. Not to be missed in the city is the Rijksmuseum which opened its doors in 1800, moving to its current location in 1808, now completely renovated in 2013 it is itself a masterpiece, because they have taken the creme de la crème and put it in one wing, thus you have a convenient capsule of the very best! There is Nemo, the science center and The Whale, a housing block - two top modern designs, perfect for a city built on water. The city is built on 90 islands, 62 miles of canals and boosts more bridges than Venice, with 1300 in total.
Amsterdam is a gem to behold, wander and taste! We do a walking tasting tour of herrings, cheeses, Dutch pancakes at Pannenkoekenhuis and the famous apple cake at DeBakkerswinkel. We’ll arrange samplings of Belgian fries and all their toppings plus fresh herring in a much-loved local café while learning about the history of Dutch cuisine. Sit down inside the city’s leading cheese shop for a cheese-tasting session. And hear tales of the 16th-century Dutch spice trade while you sip on spirits and traditional drinks inside a 17th-century distillery. Prosit!
If you are lucky to be there in Spring, a magical eight weeks between March and May,
one final day must be spent in Keukenhof, the jewel in the crown! This is the biggest and the best flower show in the world! The Spring gardens of Keukenhof are a privilege to view them, people come from all over the world to see 6 million blossoms in full splendor. The views here take the breath away. Over 100 different companies co-operate to plant 6 million bulbs not only to be admired, but also to be a source of inspiration. Different garden themes cover over 32 hectares, all different bulb varieties, aromas and color spectrum. Harmony between nature and culture reigns here because there is art positioned throughout the garden and trails adding to the overwhelming beauty. Tulips as tall as children -- with heads the same size just astounds. An Austrian botanist brought the first tulip to Holland in 1593. And after seeing their magnificence in Keukenhof, it can be easily understood what created the “tulip mania” in the 17th century. But like Silicon Valley and the housing market, the “tulip mania” bubble burst and people lost total fortunes in speculation.
The gardens started as a kitchen garden on a hunting estate, but in 1949 after the war, the local mayor decided to open it as a showpiece for bulb exporters to illustrate their production. Holland today exports 2 billion tulip bulbs alone each year!
If you have a week to spare next Spring, you would be doing yourself the greatest favor by heading to Schipol. Indulge yourself, a river cruise is perfect for a traveler - you don‘t miss a moment as scenery just glides by, plus you dock directly in towns - perfectly convenient for a stroll. Being on board is so relaxing; take the time to linger over a meal matched with fine wines, read a great book from the library, get a massage or just get to know new friends. And whatever you do -- don’t miss Keukenhof Gardens!!
Dutch Pancake recipe (use oven proof pan) and have your favorite jam handy.
3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
3 Large Eggs
¾ cup Whole Milk
½ cup All-Purpose Flour
¼ teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
¼ cup Sugar (Plus 1 Tablespoon)
1 tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice