Monday, April 18, 2005

Dutch treat 

Friday--The Keukenhof

Friday morning we set off for the Keukenhof and enjoyed a day of wandering through the beautiful gardens. The weather was cool and cloudy, but the rain that had been forecast was absent. I figure if each picture is worth a thousand words, I can be brief in describing a few of my favorites.

Here are some closeups I took throughout the park:

The kids posed with the rodents (Ears, Ratzo, Cheezer, and Pellet), who were modeling their authentic Dutch footwear:

I broke with tradition and hopped into one picture, along with my good friend Ratzo:

The kids had a great time playing on the playground:

I thought this group shot came out nice. Some day when I have extra time, I might Photoshop myself into it:

The manicured gardens were beautiful, but I was especially enthralled by the fields of flowers that surrounded the park:

The only negative thing I have to report on from the Keukenhof is the food. We had one truly unimpressive yet disgustingly expensive lunch that day. My advice to prospective Keukenhof visitors would be to take a sandwich along with you!


We took the train into the city Saturday morning. The weather was cold and rainy, and Mike was coming down with a cold, so it was rather bleak.

Our first mission in Amsterdam was to find NEMO. Really. NEMO is the biggest science center in the Netherlands. We bought the kids' admission tickets and set them loose, and then Amy, Jenny, and I hung out in the coffee shop while they played.

From NEMO, we made our way over to Artis, the Amsterdam zoo. We braved the elements to visit the zoo, because it is the only zoo in Holland that has a giant anteater, and Annabelle is all about anteaters these days ("They're endangered, and NOBODY IS DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT!!!!"). Unfortunately for us, anteaters have the good sense to stay in on truly icky days, so we had to settle for watching the anteater over a video monitor as he slept in his den. Annabelle did enjoy posing with this picture of an anteater:

After the zoo, we stopped in Waterlooplein to watch a 3-D movie about Holland. While we waited for the next showing, the rodents posed in this fake red-light-district scene:

What to say about the movie? Gosh, I don't know. How do you say "sucks" in Dutch anyway?

We went to the movie at my insistence, and by 5 minutes into the show I was whispering to Jenny, "I feel like I need to start apologizing as soon as this thing is over." By 10 minutes, I was thinking I should buy everybody's tickets.

The film quality itself was atrocious, but that paled in comparison to the cheesy special effects. In an effort to give us our money's worth of 3-D experience, the film makers had birds and bees flying at us for no apparent reason and little Dutch girls poking at us with umbrellas. At one point, the film showed windsurfers, and suddenly a screaming mannequin on a surfboard shot across the stage in front of the screen.

The film left me with many unanswered questions. Why, for example, were those people having a dinner party on a raft? And are there really THAT many helicopters in Holland? And what's up with that scary sand-castle Buddha anyway? We left the theater thinking that perhaps the movie would have made more sense if we had eaten some wackie brownies first.

We walked from the theater back to the train station. We could have made the trip without actually entering the infamous red light district, but Jenny really wanted to see it. So we made a quick detour down a side street where we got to see marijuana plants growing in a shop window. Further down the block, we had the strangest offer of the day: "Live sex show! We offer a family discount AND have free babysitting!" Um, yeah, dude, I'll leave the kids with you . . . NOT! As Mike said, "What do you want to bet they would put us to work making the brownies?"

We drove back to Germany yesterday, stopping off in Spangdahlem to check out the international bazaar at the Air Force base. Now we're getting ready to take off to Poland day after tomorrow for pottery. Yes, Chris, even the special pottery items!

What do they do with the fields of flowers that surround the formal gardens??? I agree the fields are amazing themselves.
That's where they get the bazillions of tulips that they export each year to other places (like Germany) where people (like me) can go buy them. :-)
Wow. Those are gorgeous photos! The "free babysitting" during the sex show made us laugh!
By the way, what kind of camera do you have!?
I've got a Sony Cybershot DSC-V1. 5 megapixels. I love it, but my next camera will recharge the flash faster.
Bonnie: I'm so glad your blog corrected whatever ailed it when you first posted this entry -- I kept meaning to e-mail you, but work intruded -- I was unable to read past the third photo before, no matter what I did. This has happened once or twice before... damned i.e. Glad to know there will be 'special' pottery in your future...past?
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