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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Notre-Dame






Looks like this was the one and only time we got to see the Notre-Dame cathedral before the fire engulfed the 850-year-old gothic masterpiece a month after we returned from our trip to Europe.

 I am glad though that I had an opportunity to see it even if it was just a glimpse in the dark from our boat when we were cruising the River Seine.

850 years of history...

My feelings exactly.

Artwork by the very talented Donna Adi.

Donna's links  - https://www.instagram.com/donna_adi/
                          https://donnadi.com/

Musings Of A Tired Mummy

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Guess What This Is...

..image credit - arden_nl
Scroll down for answer.













This is a tulip field. Would you have guessed!?

On our way to the Schiphol Airport from Keukenhof in Lisse, we passed fields like this with rows upon rows of tulips.

Sharing this video of tulip fields taken with a drone by Youtuber voomedia.



FUN FACTS

Tulips only bloom for a short period of time. In the spring, growers remove the top of the flower: this is referred to as tulip topping. But how is this done?

Why are tulips topped?
The flowers are not actually important to growers. All they are interested in are the bulbs. The thicker the tulip bulb, the more money it raises. That is why blooming tulips are topped.

The process
Growers plant bulbs in October and allow them to bloom in spring. They then pass through each row to inspect the tulips. This involves checking them all and removing incorrect tulip species and tulips suffering from diseases.

The eventual sale
Once they have been approved, the tulips are topped; this means cutting the flower from the stem. This is done because flowers actually consume a lot of food, and this food is needed to grow the bulb.

The more food a bulb receives, the bigger it gets. The larger bulbs are sold to garden centres and other growers. They then use them to cultivate tulips, which are sold as cut flowers; exactly like the ones in your home!

source : https://www.tuliptoursholland.com/the-tulips/what-is-tulip-topping/

Off with their heads!


It's sad to see a monstrous machine rolling into a colorful tulip field and chopping off these beautiful flowers from their stems, leaving rows of green behind. And an occasionally tulip that is to small to be topped.

Musings Of A Tired Mummy

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Day 8 - Keukenhof

We toured Europe in the late winter but luckily for us, our last day was the first day Keukenhof opened its doors. The gardens are open only 60 days in a year from mid March to mid May.

Keukenhof (English: kitchen garden) aka Garden of Europe, is one of the world's largest flower gardens. According to the official website for the Keukenhof Park, approximately 7 million flower bulbs are planted annually in the park, covering an area of 32 hectares (79 acres).

There are more than 800 species of tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, orchids and lilies!


Inside the Willem Alexander Pavillion


The variety of the tulips in all shapes, sizes and colors is dazzling.


These fringed ones are most unusual!






Flower Power
The theme for 2019 is Flower Power - The Strength of Flowers.




You can't tell from this picture but the Flemish rabbits in this park are huge. They are the size of a Shih Tzu!



Keukenhof's official video


Adorable tulip bags in a souvenir shop in the gardens

Our last group photo with Marios, our driver from Poland.

That really was an amazing trip and I loved every single second of it! I was so high on life during those 8 days that even an injured foot couldn't hold me down!

The 30 of us left Malaysia as total strangers but we returned home as close buddies. During those 10 days (8 days + 2 nights on the plane), we bonded over meals and newfound common interests. We shared big laughs and a couple of misadventures like one big family.

Along with our souvenirs and photos, we brought home wonderful memories we made together that will certainly be relived over and over again.

Ours was a pretty mixed group. We had a lady from Singapore, 2 Indian families, an elderly couple who were in their 70s and 6 sisters-in-law who left their kids behind with their husbands for this trip so they could take a break!


Throughout the trip, we always got each other's backs. When I hurt my foot, my travel buddies were really concerned and took good care of me. When M was in shock after discovering her bag was stolen together with her passport, we calmed her down and comforted her. We worried and fussed over Mr. O (the septuagenarian) when he fell in the glacier cave. Thank God, he was alright.

We came home totally exhausted but euphoric; our passion for travelling well and truly reignited.

In fact, our whatsapp group is already planning our next trip!!


Musings Of A Tired Mummy

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Day 7 - Amsterdam

After a lovely buffet breakfast, we were briefed by our guide the activities that were planned for the day. We were doing 5 places in Amsterdam : Zaanse Schans, Volendam, the canals, diamond factory and Dam Square.

ZAANSE SCHANS

Zaanse Schans  is  a neighborhood in the Dutch town of Zaandam, near Amsterdam.

Historic windmills and distinctive green wooden houses were relocated here to recreate the look of an 18th/19th-century village.

In its heyday, the Zaan region was an important industrial area dotted by hundreds of windmills producing linseed oil, paint, snuff, mustard, paper and other products. Many of the Zaanse Schans' characteristic village houses are now museums, gift shops or workshops while others are used as private residences. Some of the windmills are functioning still.


The scenery was surreal. It was like going back in time


A private residence

People (mostly tourists) walking past a village house that has been converted into a souvenir shop.

Think Netherlands, think clogs!


Inside the Clog Workshop

We were given a short demo on how clogs are made


Love this dude - he reminds me of Paul Rovia aka Jesus from Walking Dead.
Tom Payne. No?

The heavenly smells of chocolate and freshly baked stroopwafels wafted over us as we wandered around the village.

Inside one of the many adorable souvenir shops.



Clogs are a popular tourist souvenir.

The cheese farm was my favourite place to visit in Zaanse Schans. Upon arrival, we were given a short demo on the cheese making process, after which we were invited into the shop to taste their smorgasbord of cow, sheep and goat cheeses in a variety of flavours: pepper, paprika, pesto, truffle, and even coconut!!


Generous samples and free tasting!  Cheese heaven!

Blue lavender goat cheese!

Smoked Jalapeno Cheese
The hubs bagged a couple of these. They were amazing! I never knew Dutch cheese was this good.

VOLENDAM

Our walking tour began with a lovely fish lunch in the picturesque fishing village of Volendam.

The Lunchroom De Koe B.V. where we had our meal.

The fish was as fresh as it can be!

Strolling along the vibrant street named Haven


The village is awash with souvenir shops, cafes, seafood stands, a cheese museum, a photo studio...

Charming wooden houses where people actually live line one side of the very narrow street and the sea on the other.



The place is so touristy that one tends to forget that people really live here!  Locals, shopkeepers and delivery drivers use the Haven and main roads to get on with their daily business. We witnessed a lady missing her foot getting rolled over by a delivery truck by a couple of inches!



Although the village stole my heart, I don't think it's fun to live in this neighbourhood. Busloads of tourists amble the very narrow street daily. Imagine strangers gawking and snapping photos of your home!


THE CANAL CRUISE

A day in Amsterdam isn’t complete without a cruise along the canals of the Dutch capital. There are 165 interconnected canals and are the most iconic structural feature of the city.

Seeing Amsterdam from the water was fun and interesting. And certainly relaxing after all those walking tours we had been doing for the past 6 days.



I was most fascinated with the colorful houseboats that moored along the canal banks. I spotted gnome statues, flower pots, wind chimes, garden furniture ... and even a barbecue stove on the 'patios' of these boat houses!

We cruised past the Anne Frank House and many other historic landmarks and bridges.

The Anne Frank House
image credit - daryll_mitchell
This is the house where Anne penned her diary while she was in hiding.





You can see the houseboats from the 0:37 mark onward

2,500 houseboats dock along the banks year-round. It was once considered a sign of poverty to live on the water but today’s modern, electricity-equipped houseboats are some of the pricier properties in town, starting at around 250,000 euros minimum.

A houseboat in front of the Dancing Houses


These are called the “Dancing Houses” on the Amstel river. The soil was so swampy that homes along the canals had to be built on stilts. Over the years they settled and sunk into the mud, so now many of the canal houses in Amsterdam are tilted and leaning forward!

Interestingly, did you know that you can rent a houseboat on Airbnb?





Rijks Museum

After the cruise, we were corralled into the bus and headed to Dam Square for more shopping and dinner.

DAM SQUARE

The square was bustling with activities and throngs of tourists when we reached there after whisking past the seedy De Wallen neighbourhood aka The Red Light District.

Yep, everything you've heard about the infamous RLD is true! The red lit windows from behind where slightly clad ladies stood like mannequins were as real as they could be!

It is strictly forbidden to take pictures or videotape the ladies behind their windows.

Word of advice - NEVER take pictures of the ladies in the windows. I've heard from a couple of sources that the girls are not too happy about this (understandably so), and show their displeasure by throwing a cup of pee at the poor unsuspecting tourist!

'Window-shopping'  in the RLD was definitely quite an experience and certainly an eye-opener!

But I digress. Anyways, back to Dam Square...

A brief history
Dam Square was built in the 13th century when a dam was constructed around the river Amstel to prevent the Zuiderzee Sea from flooding the city. Through the centuries, buildings mushroomed around the Square. Special events were (and still are) held here, making Dam Square the most popular and important location in Amsterdam.
In the 1960s, Dam Square was famous for the hippie population that hung out here.

Buskers are very much a part of this vibrant square. And pigeons too!

The Royal Palace

Standing proudly in the middle of the square is the National Monument which was built to commemorate  the casualties of World War II.




While window shopping in the vicinity, we came across many souvenir shops and establishments that sold cannabis edibles like cookies, brownies, chocolates, lollipos, ice-cream, drinks etc.


So, did we try them and did they get us stoned?  Find out more in an upcoming post!

Musings Of A Tired Mummy

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday