We were on our way to Holland when it got me thinking about a book that I have read a while back by Bill Bryson and a particular part that stuck with me when he talked about a Dutch colleague that used to work with him for The Times, who after buying a house in Amsterdam and renovating it, walked around with holes in his socks for years after that which led me to thinking about a phrase ‘going Dutch’. Honestly, never liked the concept, but for years I hear these kind of remarks from French and Belgians about Dutch being… let’s call it very economical for the lack of the better word. I don’t know how they got this label? When Belgians would reply to my question, it would be something vein and in the sense that they drop by unannounced, eat and drink everything you have and never bring gifts. Regardless, people of the Land of the Wooden Shoes are exceptional. They excel at pretty much anything, from being tallest people in the world (average male 1,81 meter and for female 1,67 m), having some of the most talented artists (Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Vermeer, …), to obtaining a status of the most tolerant people in the world having legalized same sex marriage, prostitution and marijuana first. So, we could be talking just some neighborly jealousy.
We arrived just a little after lunchtime to the destination. Seductive tulip fields greeted us at the very entrance. Thirty years ago my husband came here as toddler and now we got to visit it with our munchkin. They must be doing something right to keep people interested in this landmark. It is the most beautiful spring garden in the world. More than 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths fill over 32 hectares with color and fragrance. You can get lost in pavilions featuring spectacular flower shows, take a boat trip through tulip fields in so called ‘whisper boats’ or explore the breathtaking surroundings by bikes which you can rent at the entrance. Those with green thumbs will definitely get inspired with the latest gardening trends. The most flattering pictures you can take in Mondrian garden and I just loved the historical Juliana Pavilion. Events and activities well thought out make much more out of your day then just wondering through the gardens. Unfortunately, we were late for the cheese tasting. A while back, there was an article in the newspapers about criminals who targeted cheese farmers in Holland stealing wheels of Gouda for what they suspected were rich Russians. Allegedly, Russians were ready to pay enormous sums for the famous cow’s cheese, since EU products have been banned in their country as a response to EU sanctions. However, I was relieved when I saw herring being prepared. They would grill it in iron barrels using wooden chips and than cover it with wet coffee bean bags to infuse flavor and ensure that its plump flesh goes bronze. If barely prodded with a single tine of a fork, it would fall of the bone in succulent heaps. Sugary waffles and fresh mouthwatering strawberries were on every corner as well a spacious restaurant with a beautiful terrace overlooking one of the gardens.
We sat for dinner later and enjoyed all the views being entertained with tourists trying desperately to take good pictures in wooden clogs which were laying around scattered for this sole purpose and watching the sun go down. Occasional groups of en actors dressed in traditional Dutch costumes from Vermeer’s time would pass by. They would be almost blinded with people taking pictures and chasing them for a selfie. I wondered if they realize on how many Facebook and Instagram accounts they will end up? They really looked the part. It reminded me all of a sudden of a movie with a young, still unknown, Scarlet Johansson who played the muse to Vermeer (portrayed by Colin Firth) in – ‘Girl With a Peal Earring’ set in 17th century Holland. Each scene in movie is designed to look like a Vermeer painting or a painting from that era and the chemistry and passion are so faithfully portrayed that sometimes you would think they were being serious but it was just a game they played. If you haven’t seen it, put it on your watch list.
We wrapped up the day heading for Amsterdam, which is not 50 km away…
Until then greetings from the Tulip Land 😚⚘.