Everyone of our traveling party had a favorite destination in mind when we planned our April adventure in Europe. Tom got us started with his desire to take a river cruise down the Rhine. Tish seemed happy at every place we went. I dreamed of the fast Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris, which departs in four hours. Darlene dreamed of the tulips.
That’s why she booked us for two nights at Hotel de Duif in Lisse, the Netherlands. Our junior suites were reasonably priced and offered fast Internet and spacious accommodations. But the real draw is the hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Keukenhof, an incredible park of tulips and other flowers. There you can rent bikes and ride along rows and rows of tulips in the fields. We spent yesterday among the tulips, and Darlene is over at the park for a final dose as we prepare for departure by bus for Amsterdam.
On our first night in Lisse, we ate at an Italian restaurant. As we were leaving, Darlene asked the waiter for examples of traditional Dutch cuisine. He appeared irritated at the question and told her, twice, “This is an Italian restaurant.” That might have been a dead end, except for the fortunate circumstance that a local couple, Simone and Henk, were listening from a nearby table. As we left, they offered to prepare a traditional Dutch dinner for us in their home the following night. How about that? We made our way to Sassenheim last night for an amazing repast and evening of shared culture. Henk works for KLM, so they travel a lot, and we hope they will rendezvous with us in the States some time in the future.
I have given my Google Glass to scores of curious people in the last two months for demos, but I have never seen anyone take to Glass as naturally as Henk. He bobbed his head upward at exactly the right angle, said “OK, Glass” at the right moment and took a picture across the dinner table. “You’re a natural!” I told him. As we were leaving their home in the taxi, I said that I hoped I would see Henk in Glass the next time we meet. Simone had noticed the same thing. “He really wants it,” she said. They will be married on September 12th.
Simone’s father owned a tulip business when she was growing up, and she said it is a very bad idea for tourists to walk among the rows of flowers to take photos. Of course that’s exactly what we had done earlier in the day, along with hundreds of others. I didn’t see any signs prohibiting this, so I figured it was okay. The problem, Simone explained, is that it is very easy to damage the bulbs or to bring diseases carried on shoes. I am actually glad we didn’t know this before our visit to the tulip fields yesterday by bicycle. It was an incredible experience to be in the middle of that much color and beauty.
I did not post as much about our river cruise aboard Ingvi, because the Internet connection was very weak. Our T-Mobile international package enabled texts and email checking, along with very slow web browsing. After getting this week’s Kindle Chronicles episode finished on Tuesday, I spent three days trying to figure out how to upload the audio before seeing an offer from T-Mobile to buy 100 MB of high-speed data for $15. That was enough to get the job done. I’m actually glad I was forced off the Internet for most of the cruise. In the future, people will probably pay extra for such opportunities, traveling to WiFi cold spots where everything happens at a crawl online, so you are forced to enjoy the moment. I know, I know. This is a pathetic admission of online obsession. So sue me and enjoy the posts.
We are packing up now for Amsterdam’s Station Centraal, where we will board the Thalys train for Paris. Darlene has returned from another hour of communing with the tulips. She saw an orange tulip with yellow on it that she loved. The video I took of the fields yesterday with Google Glass is available for viewing here.