Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Amsterdam Revisited....In Search of Tulips

I had the opportunity to take a trip to Amsterdam and the surrounding area again this past weekend.  A chance to see the tulips that I missed out on two weeks ago....or so I hoped.  Plus, the tour was with a group that would also visit Delft and Volendam with a very knowledgeable and entertaining guide.  Did I mention that it was also my first weekend away from my one year old daughter!  A much needed break for Mom :)

Our first stop was Delft, but along the way we stopped or at least drove by some very old windmills.




Delft was a sweet little city famous for its blue and white ceramic wares.  And Hello sunshine...Finally felt like Spring!

Souvenir shop selling the famous blue & white wares

Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) Protestant Church in  Delft Market Square

Decorative and colorful wooden tulips (for sale everywhere) with Delft  wares in the background

A view from behind City Hall with bikes parked everywhere
Next we headed to the Keukenhof Gardens with our fingers crossed that the tulips would be in bloom.  Well, since Spring didn't arrive in Europe until this week, the tulips were not really blooming.  There were a couple early varieties showing colorful blooms and tons of Crocus.  However, they had several indoor displays of flowers - one whole building full of tulips.  Enough for me to take over 100 pictures of flowers ;)

Flower beds of green awaiting us

Crocus making it feel like Spring

Some early tulips

One of my favorites

Colorful blooms abound....inside

Happy faces

The colors are so amazing!

Tulips, outside, in a bowl of course

Souvenir wooden clogs

My windmill shot (like the popular ones you can imagine) not so colorful
Next onto the hotel, on the North Sea, in Ijmuiden.  What an interesting place, especially in the off season.  We arrived at dusk and right before dinner so I unfortunately didn't get a chance to wander over to the WWII bunker tucked into the sand dunes.  However, I did wake up early the next morning so I could walk over to the North Sea beach.  Wish I had more time to explore this misty, sleepy seaside.  The little cottages along the beach look so very interesting (Trip Advisor has some better pictures as does Google).

View from hotel room, overlooking the harbor

Eerie & empty, the beach had about a dozen restaurants lining the dune

A lonely empty beach in the off season

Beach parking for bikes - love this!
We left Ijmuiden at 8am and headed to Amsterdam....in the rain wondering if the sun would shine.  Once in Amsterdam, I decided to wait in line for the Anne Frank House Museum, which I highly recommend, but order tickets online in advance.  The weather was overcast and wet (unlike the forecast reported) so no reason not to see this historical land mark.  Afterwards I wandered around by myself (a sweet indulgence, concerned only with what I wanted, how rare!) and stopped into my favorite restaurant Greenwoods for a cappuccino   Amsterdam is such a beautiful and friendly city.

The Anne Frank House Museum (very busy)

Prinsen Canal

One of my favorite restaurants, Greenwoods, great food and energy
Condom Shop in the Red Light District 

Looking toward the Central Railway Station 

After a few hours in Amsterdam we all met back up and headed to the home of Edam cheese, Volendam about a half hour away.  This is a cute little seaside gem of a tourist trap.  Here one can walk along the water and a smattering of tourist shops.  I highly recommend making your way past the tourist shops and stopping into the antique/second hand clothing store, BLIJ! aan de dijk located at Zuideinde 9.  The town itself is quaint and small with a great seaside view.

Seaside (makes me long for Lake Michigan)

Alley way with the sound of chickens clucking

Tons of restaurants mixed in along the stores

Boats galore of all shapes and sizes
  
A really great trip, well deserved and much needed vacation for this mom.  So much to see and do as the time continues to fly by....

Cheers!