May 14: Gardens and Good Food

This morning we left Belgium and headed into the Dutch countryside. It was a lot of driving, but it was very cool to see modern windmills alongside the traditional ones. We got into Holland and made a stop at the Keukenhof, the dutch tulip gardens.

The Keukenhof was amazing. We only had an hour to walk around and a lot of the flowers had been beheaded, but I could have spent hours there. They had some very touristy areas, like the Walk of Fame with flowers named after celebrities, and I was a little disappointed by the historical gardens. At least, I’m pretty sure what I found was the historical garden. Their system of labeling left much to be desired.

However, I saw some incredible flower displays and some truly gorgeous flowers. Some of the most interesting stuff was about the history of the dutch flower market and cross-breeding. I didn’t know that you had to plant the bulbs before the freeze. And that they harvested the bulbs in the fall, just like food crops.

I ended up in their gift shop and information area looking for a information on buying bulbs, and a very nice dutch woman working there told me that the bulbs I’d be buying now would be no good and that I should wait until August. Then another very nice dutch woman working there made me a little flower corsage. I also bought one of their five opening tulip vases, partially because it was very adorable and equally baffling.

Finally, we boarded the bus and drove into Amsterdam. Our hotel is outside of the city center, but really close to the tram station so not too bad of a location. We went to a very good nearby restaurant and I had some really fabulous asparagus soup and a quinoa and black bean burger that, and I’m absolutely not exaggerating here, was quite possibly the greatest human invention since Belgian beer. The texture and taste was incredibly close to a real hamburger and the flavor was just amazing. I’m going to really miss the food abroad and this burger in particular when I have to go back to the U.S.

Today’s song is Nothing Really Ends from a Belgian band called dEUS. As it’s our last day in Belgium I thought it’d be appropriate, plus they have a really interesting samba sound that I’m enjoying.


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