I’m a tulip lover, a cheese lover, an architecture lover, a history lover, a windmill lover, a total history geek. I love not only the slender beauty of a tulip, but also how they contributed to the emerging market economy that shaped the face of Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries. A Tulip Time Cruise on Avalon River Cruises was right up my alley, so I went.
Because I also love art, flying in three days early to experience the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, visit the Ann Frank House site, plus the Dam and the Royal Palace was a must! Experiencing the Westerkerk where Rembrandt and his son, Titus, are buried was highlighted by a student playing the magnificent, centuries old organ. Beauty resounded through walls that held a history deep and meaningful.
I learned so much- how the early ship trading relationship with the Congo is still vital to the Belgian chocolate industry; how the construction of the canal houses was marked by portico emblems that showed your trade; how the paper made that the US Constitution is printed on was made by paper created by a wind powered windmill; how tulips created the first ‘stock bubble’ and were stolen, traded and coveted like gold; how fighting the flooding of the delta areas was as critical as fighting the Vikings, then the Spanish, and finally Napoleon.
So many things informed my experience as I moved through a culture where history is in fully present in tangible ways. I am grateful to have experienced what I did, but I am hungry to go back for more. As a history geek, Amsterdam has the largest concentration per capita of museums anywhere in the world. I’m hungry for more of their Dutch Pannekoekens, too.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the tall, lean people who move with ease through crowded urban streets on bicycles, pedaling away while sporting excellent leather footwear and understated, elegant clothing… An affluent, educated, quite polite, and civil society impressed me to the core. I long to go back, and I will… I have so many reasons to return and if you haven’t been, you can only understand by experiencing it yourself. I didn’t even mention the cheese or Keukenhof Gardens. It’s all so much to take in, a wonderland… cheese, chocolate, pancakes, museums, and fields of tulips. What could be better? More time there.