Thursday, April 16, 2009
Waterways of Holland and Belgium - Day 10
On our last full day in Holland we were scheduled to go to the Keukenhof Gardens, 70 acres of gorgeous gardens, showcasing the work of Holland's bulb gowers. Keukenhof bills itself as the world's most beautiful spring garden. I cannot compare Keukenhof with any of the other famous gardens, but it would be extremely difficult to exceed the beauty we saw. We had been assured that even though the fields were rather bare, there would be no shortage of tulips here. There were some tulips that had not opened, and the fritillarias were just starting, while the Dutch iris and crocuses were about done. But there were hyacynths, tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinths nad crocuses blooming in profusion. There are about 15 kilometers of paths through the garden, all paved, and all easy walking. You can even walk on stepping stones in the lake, where the mute swans will meet you, hoping for a handout.
The Willem Alexander pavillion has the most amazing display of tulips and daffodils, plus other flowers such as lilacs, cyclamens and amaryllis. Most of the plantings throughout the garden are formal, but there are also areas of informal planting that are also beautiful. In my journal the only thing I could say about this garden is "!!!".
I've put a few picture up here. If you would like to see more photos from our entire trip, please go to http://gallery.me.com/harryiii. The section title is Tulip Cruise Highlights.
We had a very long flight home again. We discovered that our flight from Amsterdam was leaving 3 hours earlier than we had originally thought (glad we found out about that!). We expected an extremely long day based on the times of our flights to Texas from Newark. However, we were able to get on earlier flights from both Newark and Dallas. The airline assured us that our bags would be coming in on our original flight, so we planned to pick them up the following morning. Just in case, we checked the baggage carousel from our actual flight, and discovered that our bags had actually come on the correct flight! That was really nice, because it took us several days to recover from the jet lag.
Our final verdict is that this was a cruise very much worth doing, even if tulips aren't your thing. We had a wonderful education about both Holland and the Flemish part of Belgium, and ended up with an even greater respect for the Dutch people and what they have done to develop their country. We were told that while God may have created the world, the Dutch created Holland. When you see how much reclaimed land there is, the result of marvelous engineering feats, and how alive the country is, you can't help but admire the people. ( I just realized that I never wrote about the storm surge system they built in the southwestern part of the country. It is another amazing testimony to the Dutch ingenuity.) We are really glad we did this trip and highly recommend it.