Cold wind and blowing rain greeted a small group of travelers who broke away with me for quick side of Amsterdam. We had just landed with a total of 26 people joined me on a Tulip River Cruise of the Netherlands last week, I blogged every day about our adventures and wanted to wrap up with some stories from a great trip.
We were on our way to the Floating Flower Market, a place filled with just about everything you could imagine for the garden. Amsterdam is a beautiful city, charming row houses look out over canals. In Europe there are always surprises for Americans walking the streets. Bike lanes and roads are hard to figure out and we spend lots of time alerting our friends to fast moving bicycles, cars and trolleys headed in their direction. While walking down the street past coffee shops reeking of marijuana, we're greeted by a strange window filled with faces. I have no idea what this business was, but it was one of those things you see in Europe that makes you wonder and laugh at the same time.
We were there to see how the locals garden and see how they use plants. In one town we saw daffodils planted on the roof of a Dutch home. It was just one of the cool ways they plant.
But there's a rich and painful history here too. I did a story a Emmy Busmen, who's mother endured living under Nazi occupation for most of her teen years and I visited the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, filled with 1749 soldiers, most killed in WWII's Battle of Arnhem. Many of the grave stones included personal messages from family. J.W. Hope was killed on September 20th, 1944. This was written on the bottom of his grave; "I miss your smile. With you I spent the happiest days." Standing among all those white grave markers and reading the personal messages on each puts life in perspective.
No trip to Holland would be compete without seeing windmills. One of the best places to do that is Kinderdijk. It's a place to see lots of them together and climb a working mill to see how the miller lived there with his family.
But the highlight of the trip was a visit to Keukenhof Gardens. Only open for eight weeks, this bulb display is one of the most magnificent gardening displays I've ever seen. It's something I wish every gardener could see. Of all the gardens I've seen over the years, Keukenhof stands shoulder to shoulder with the best.
I think the one thing that made our trip to the Netherlands so wonderful, were the Dutch people. They are resilient, funny and love to garden. What else could you ask for?