Our trip of a lifetime to the Netherlands.
The impetus to travel to Holland was two-fold: a Nederphile since the age of 13, I have always wanted to live in the Netherlands and highly regard the Dutch for their ingenuity and hardwork. In addition we both admire their love of their land and how well-cultivated every aspect is of the country. Hence the reason for flowers - I guess you could go back to the time of “tulip mania” when the Netherlands was on fire with speculation for the price that could be had from the tulip. Originally an import of Turkey, it caught on like wild-fire and became a prized possession of the wealthiest citizens [even leading to the collapse of markets, etc.].
Adam’s interest stems from his grandfather’s whole-sale flower business that he started as a young adult. An immigrant from Italy, he joined his family at the age of 6 to work the land on the peninsula and to grow his farming business into a booming pumpkin and flower business.
Holland holds special interest for us because of their constant and enduring attention to the land, and to propagating what has become a global commodity. And it adds beauty and life to our surrounding environment. Our trip started off with a flight from SFO to Amsterdam aboard KLM. The dutch flagship carrier, the airline is the oldest airline in existence dating back to 1919. We landed at Schiphol airport, picked up our car, and drove to our AirBNB in the lovely town of Gouda, about 1 hour south of Amsterdam. A quintessential Dutch town, it has a glorious history of wealth and prestige [beautiful St. Jan’s Kerk is an example of the city’s former glory]. Today it’s a quiet hamlet of beautiful old homes and canals. Our apartment overlooked the square where the former stadhuis/town hall was located [our vista was of the stadhuis, and to the right was the old weigh house]. The most delightful part of being there was being present for the opening of the seasonal cheese markets that occurred on Wednesdays.
We toured the countryside, visiting villages and cities [Rotterdam, Den Haag, Leiden, Delft, Haarlem, along with a beautiful castle that belongs to the Van Zuylen-Nyvelt family [who married a Rothschild] - the castle www.kasteeldehaar.nl was beautifully restored and is the site for modern day weddings.
The piece de resistance though was our visit to the famed Keukenhof, or kitchen garden, which once belonged to the countess of Hainaut and her castle. The garden became a commercial property in which local farmers who then display the best of their flower bulbs intricately arranged in a beautiful wooded area along the dutch coast. Visitors delight in the spectacular display of flowers and expositions that allow you to walk amongst the tulips fields, narcissus, hyacinths, countless ranunculus, and dahlias. Expos for orchids, and a flower arranging demonstration that left nothing unexposed! We were in awe of how fantastic a place this was, complete with a “hurdy-gurdy” style pipe organ that electrified the experience. Wow what a day!!
We can’t wait to go back and explore other parts of the country in a style that the Dutch call “gezellig” or “coziness”. Embracing the beauty of the cultivated landscape where the Dutch leave nothing untouched- a truly “created” country filled with nature and interesting architecture, culture, art, and history.
OUR TOP 5 THINGS TO DO:
1. Flower lovers HAVE to visit Keukenhof, also known as the Garden of Europe. It is one of the world's largest flower gardens, situated in Lisse, South Holland, Netherlands.
2. Taste the famous local cheese of Gouda. This Dutch city south of Amsterdam in the province of South Holland is known for its namesake cheese and seasonal cheese market, regularly held on the medieval Markt square.
3. De Haar Castle is located in Utrecht, Netherlands, near the village of Haarzuilens.
4. Delft, a canal-ringed city in the western Netherlands, is known as the manufacturing base for Delftware. Treat yourself to some beautiful hand-painted blue-and-white pottery.
5. Stroll along the canalside and soak up all the magnificent architecture. Colonial, Medieval.... The Netherlands has it all.
Thank you Holland, we’ll be back!!
1. There are 20 national parks in the Netherlands, as well as hundreds of woods and lakes.
2. There are still over 1,000 traditional working windmills in the Netherlands. 19 of these can be found at the Unesco World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk.
3. What we now know as gin was invented as “jenever” in the Netherlands in the 16th century and originally used for medicinal purposes.
4. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage. It did so in 2001.
5. Today, the Netherlands is the biggest producer and exporter of tulips in the world.
Thank you for taking the time to read and share our travel adventures.
What topics would you like us to cover in our next blog? Let us know in the comments below.
Warmly, Adam & Eric