Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Keukenhof Gardens and Flower-fields

As our coach approached the town of Lisse, just southwest of Amsterdam,  we could see the striped fields of rainbow colors in the distance.  Rick planned this weekend trip to Amsterdam at peak Tulip season and the Keukenhof Gardens and Flower-fields were calling us!

The gardens are only open from mid-March until mid-May.  7 million bulbs, not just tulips, are planted over 32 hectares - undoubtably the world's most beautiful spring garden!  Enjoy a few of the highlights!

If you use your imagination you can almost smell the blue hyacinth and hear the bees buzzing and the quiet water fountains.  (I won't mention the crowds of tourist from around the world!)
I can't think of a better way to welcome Spring!  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I Am.sterdam!

My first trip to Amsterdam and I'm left with  conflicting impressions....
The first,
intimate streets and canals, lined with bicycles, boats, and outdoor cafes. The 17th century architecture with it's slightly leaning buildings, peaked roof lines, and brightly painted shutters was charming.
We stayed in a fabulous Hotel - Andaz Amsterdam - part of the quirky new Hyatt Hotel chain.  It was new and funky and in the best location, between the Anne Frank House, Old Town, and the Rijks Museum.

This was our room...the fish represents Dutch industry, the back is a Delft tulip pot, stitched together with the 3 orange crosses- symbols of Amsterdam.  Very cool Hotel!
The first thing we did was find the Hop on-Hop Off canal cruise near the Central Station.  It was the ideal way to see the highlights of Amsterdam.  

Traffic on the canals could get a little crazy on a warm spring day! 

If you are a fan of Van Gogh you will recognise this!  I did get Rick to go to the Van Gogh Museum.  It was interesting to see how the artist's life and artwork changed throughout his life.  

My conflicting views of Amsterdam come from our tour of the red-light district, brimming with legal prostitution, sex-shops and "Coffee" Houses.  Our guide was VERY interesting - a "retired" hooker, actually from Oklahoma.  She was 30 minutes late, looked stoned, and a little shaky but she knew the back alleys and window lanes of the Red Light district and they all seemed to know her! Of course photos of the women are discouraged  but this is one of the famous coffee houses....Baba's.   

Complete with "cannabis" in all forms!
In contrast to the Red Light District and Old Town it was good to return to the quieter neighborhoods on the canals!