London Diary – Tulips, Van Gogh, Canals, Windmills and more!

A few back to back trips on top of what has been a busy period of time, I am finding it difficult to keep up and thereby this quick entry.

Apr 27th – May 1st, Holland Highlights

Unknownst to us, we arrived at Amsterdam on King’s day, a mandatory holiday, and found the city literally high, many were out selling and buying at jumbo sale stalls that filled multiple wide boulevards near our hotel Hilton on Apollolaan, parties everywhere on the streets and canals in the historic downtown, and apparently, orange was the color for king’s day.

Heineken Experience at Heineken Brewery. Contrary to most reviews online, we were lucky to find no line and walked straight in. In line with the spirit for King’s day, visitors were given orange colored plastic crowns to wear. The roof top area has nice view. Only food option is a small stand on top level selling burgers and hot dogs. Cool experience overall.

About tulips. Keukenhof Garden is a must see but nothing beats the tulip fields in the villages outside the garden. We rented a tandem bike not far from the main entrance to the garden, went through multiple routes according to the map given by the bike place. It was tremendous fun. On some of the fields, tractors started to cut down the tulips. It turned out, only small portion of the tulips are sold, most are grown for the bulbs. It takes a few years for the bulbs to mature so each year at end of Apr, the flowers are cut down, until the bulbs are ready. Booking on discoverholland.com for combo ticket to the garden is a good deal, garden, bus and train all included.

Van Gogh Museum. I was over the moon at the museum. I love Van Gogh’s works, especially those from the last years, vibrant colors and unique brush work, realism and surreal quality all in one. Poor Van Gogh, have to give it to him, struggled and suffered what he did, still able to draw inspiration from and finding beauty in ordinary people and nature. My favorite paintings from the museum,

Cypresses and two women
Sunflowers
The little yellow house
Seasacpe near Les Sanity Marie de la Mer
Almond Blossom
Irises
Wheat field and reaper
Wheat field under thundercloud
Landscape at twightligh
Farm house
Views of Auvers
Garden With courting couples Square Saint Pierre

The line at Van Gogh Museum was long with hours’ wait time. We booked tickets from the museum’s website and went straight in without second’s delay. Make sure you get the No Waiting tickets.

We stumbled across L’Entrecote et les Dames, a French restaurant not far from Van Gogh Museum and enjoyed a superb dinner. They offer a set 2 course dinner, salad, Dover or steak for entrée, no more. But obviously they don’t need a bigger menu. The sauce for the steak is the best I’ve had. And they offer a second serving for the fish and a smaller second serving for the steak.

Edam is a lovely village north of Amsterdam. It is pretty easy by bus. We had a nice lunch at canal side restaurant at Hotel Fortuna, also picked up some famous local cheese. Don’t forget to check out its 17th century windmill a few minutes off town center.

On way back to Amsterdam, we stopped at seaside town Volendam. Food Corner on the water front is an interesting seafood café kind of place. You buy seafood by weight. Servers picked up the items by hands and handled cash in between. Mortified, I could not resist the temptation, fried fish, prawns, muscles, etc, all looked so good. And they did tasted great too.

A few fun observations. Holland is pretty flat where we’ve been. There are many crook buildings in Amsterdam, also in Edam. Amsterdam is an interesting mix, stark contrast between the historic downtown and ultramodern area like its World Trade Center. You most likely will pick up whiffs of that special aroma of Marijuana quite often. Easy to come across shops that sell different drugs in historic center. We came across Marijuana brownies and muffins at a flea market as we walked by.

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