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.

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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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