Want holiday inspiration for a long-weekend away? In our 3-part series, we’re sharing our favourite trips from Belgium. First up – our favourite road-trip getaways.
Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, the Netherlands is synonymous with tulips. We’ve visited Keukenhof nine times, since 2005, and I thought I knew everything there was to know. However, last weekend, we were invited to talk to a few of the people who work behind the scenes. Their stories were full of surprises.
Spring is here and our thoughts are turning to visiting Europe’s best gardens. Today we share photos of our 10 favourite gardens in Europe.
If you dig way, way back in the CheeseWeb archives, you’ll find the saga of our arrival in Europe. Those days, CheeseWeb was simply a personal journal for my close friends and family, back home in Canada. You’ll find a lot of (badly written) posts about our time in Amsterdam, from 2004 and 2005, but since those days, I’ve written very little about one of my favourite cities in the world.
Despite the relatively short time we spent living there, (7 months in total) it still feels like home, when we visit. So today I’d like to share a bit of my Amsterdam with you, with six things I miss about Amsterdam.
We have loads of food options in Brussels. I’ve fallen in love with cuisines I had never even tasted before settling in Belgium. But still, there is no decent Mexican restaurant in Brussels. If we want a nice, sit-down dinner of incredible Mexican food, we need to drive to Amsterdam. We NEED Los Pilones.
Spring will soon be upon us and I’m busy figuring out which gardens will be on my photography list this year. There is one place you can get your fill of gardens year round though – The flower auction in Aaslmeer, the Netherlands.
For the first few days of October, our little flat was rather full. My parents arrived on the 1st and the following day, Andrew’s Aunt Doreen and Cousin Sandra arrived. In order to avoid staying in such close quarters for the whole weekend, Andrew and I took the whole crew to Amsterdam on the train. The timing worked out well, as Andrew had a meeting outside the city Friday afternoon.
I took the rest of the gang into the city where we had some lunch and found our hotel. We then went on a bit of a walking tour through some of my favourite parts of the city.
That evening we were to meet Andrew at our favourite little jenever bar, Wynand Fockink. We were a bit late… Andrew had to occupy himself with beer while he waited. We finally made it and drinks were ordered, sampled and enjoyed. Then it was time for supper at, where else, Los Pilones. But it wasn’t the Los Pilones we knew and loved… they’ve opened a second location in the Jordaan and I think it was even more fantastic than the old one.
Bend, slurp, lift… drinking at the jenever bar. (Mine’s the purple one)
The next morning we were up very early to catch a bus. Since we couldn’t fit everyone in our car, I had organised an all day bus tour of the Netherlands through Viator. It was fantastic and I would highly recommend it. My only complaint was that the first stop was supposed to be at the flower auction in Alsmeer which I have wanted to see forever. On the Viator website they state that this is closed on Sundays and is substituted with a visit to a cheese and clog factory. Well apparently it is closed on Saturdays too. So cheese and clogs it was.
Having had all of the cheese and clogs we could take, we were off to Rotterdam. There we had a quick photo stop at the Hotel New York, which was once owned by the Holland America Line. We had a lovely view of the Rotterdam skyline and the Erasmus Bridge.
Our next stop was Delft, where we visited a delftware factory.Unfortunately the painters don’t work on weekends but we were given a brief explanation of the process and could see some works in progress. Of course there was also time in the shop at the end of the tour. Then we had a bit of free time in Delft to grab some lunch. Dutch pancakes seemed like a good thing to do.
Back on the bus, after lunch, and we were driven to Den Haag. We drove by the major sights, including the Peace Palace and the city’s beautiful government buildings. We followed The Hague with a drive through the lovely seaside town of Scheveningen.
Our final stop was Madurodam. To be totally honest, I’ve scoffed at this attraction without ever having been there before and I didn’t have high hopes. Madurodam is a miniature reconstruction of all of the famous sights in the Netherlands. I was expecting a rather sketchy mini-golf type recreation. I stand corrected. It was actually very well done and quite fascinating, especially if you have been to many of the places represented as Andrew and I have. Many of the models have working parts, including trains, planes and boats. It would be a fabulous place to take kids but it was fun for us adults as well.
Mom -getting down ‘tourist style’ at Madurodam
The Rijksmuseum – in mini
After Madurodam, we were driven back to Amsterdam and after a bit of wandering, we settled on a tapas bar in the Jordaan for supper. Doreen and Sandra would be leaving us Monday morning to continue their holiday in Barcelona, so we thought we’d give them a sample of what to expect. The food was great and the atmosphere was fun.
Dad didn’t care what we did, as long as he got to ride on a train…
The next morning we checked out and decided we couldn’t leave Amsterdam without the ever-present canal cruise. We took our favourite Blue Boat Company for a spin around the city. Despite the rain, it was a nice tour. When we finished, we hopped back on the train for an early night home.
Check out the Photoblog over the next week, for more photos from our adventures in the Netherlands.