Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tulip or not tulip, that is not the question because there are so many freaking tulips in Holland

Day 7-13 (April 15 - 21, 2012):

 Well, we just completed our first guided bike tour! It was fun, stressful, entertaining, beautiful, and filling. We had 5 funny ladies from Texas who wore hand warmers inside their gloves (granted, it was colder than usual), and three different couples who were all very pleasant.
Day 1 & 2 of the tour were in Tulip country. We picked the clients up at the train station in Leiden. I was a little nervous about how to interact with them, what there would be to talk about, but we started off with Oma giving a walking tour of Leiden so there wasn’t that much time for awkward pauses. Noordwijkerhout was the small town where we stayed, and I was just about drooling over the gorgeous warmblood horses that frequently passed by from the menagerie nearby.
Canal in Leiden

The tulips were spectacular, although they are early this year because they got the three weeks of summer weather that we got.

Although the tour is a “tulip tour,” we actually only see tulips on the first two days. After the millions of flowers we saw, two days was enough. You can only take so many pictures of flowers.  

Day 3 & 4 were in Delft. Now I’m sorry Leiden, but Delft is the clear winner in my eyes! Talk about a typically Dutch, adorable little city.

Cute corner with view of the tower of the new church

There are two churches, one of which is leaning like the tower of Pisa! The Dutch weren't content to let it become a tourist attraction like the Italians though. Even before they completed the church they realized it was leaning (Holland is all soft, sandy soil, what do you expect?), so they decided to create some optical illusions to make it look straighter. It didn't really work, but it was funny to find out that they built the right tower taller than the left (the church leaned to the right), and made a few other things bigger on the right.

I climbed to the top of the tower in the new church! Here is a view of the old church and Delft

I could see myself living in Delft if I were to ever live in Holland. It kind of reminded me of the North end except bigger, older, and quainter. My room at the hotel we stayed made me feel like Veneer himself, as I had two stories, the top equipped only with a bed, chair, and two windows.

Check out that sky!

They had a market on our last morning, where I actually paid to pet a horse. Technically I probably paid to keep the music flowing from the organ the horse had pulled into the square, but I wasn’t really aware of the music as I pet, scratched, and loved on the beautiful Halflinger cross.

Day 5 & 6 were spent in the farmland southeast of Amsterdam. We saw more baby lambs than we had battery life in our cameras. (The week was pretty gloomy, so I didn’t take very many pictures, since I have two more chances to get the money shots)

The hotel itself was okay, overlooking a lake which our room didn’t have a view of, but the food was absolutely spectacular. The first night Oma and Pop found out the appetizer was going to be smoked eel, and they suggested that the waiter describe it as “smoked fish from the lake”. Worked like a charm. The next night I actually started talking with the Texas ladies about eating different foods and we talked about eel, which they said they wouldn’t eat, and it was all I could do to keep my mouth shut!

Scrumdidliumptious Bulvarian Creme. I think the dutch word for it is "Kwark"
The biking was very beautiful the whole week, but seeing all the baby animals and open farmland made the 6th day of biking my favorite. My tailbone thought otherwise.

Overall it was a really great week. Stressful at the beginning as I fretted about managing the emails after a day of biking, before or after the 2 or 3 hour dinner, but I managed. I’m already scheming about how much I will need for an assistant to answer the phone and emails while we are away next year. But it’s really not that bad. The people were all older, but very interesting, and it was really neat to hear all of their different stories. One guy had biked from Alaska to California in something like 39 days! We were able to skirt the issue of politics for the most part until the question of the next president came up; but would you believe it, I suddenly had to pee really badly. (It didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I was sitting with the Texans)

I could really get used to this life. 

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