I was not sure what to expect of Holland (the area outside of Amsterdam that is actually more properly called ‘The Netherlands’). Of course I’d seen photos of windmills, dutch shoes, and tulips, but I wasn’t sure that this was something I’d really care to see in person.
Well, it was a pleasant surprise. We did a planned tour, which I’m always hesitant to do, as the whole tour group thing is rather restrictive. But as I’m learning on this trip, it usually ends up being for the best – especially when you have only a short or finite amount of time. In 11 hours we were able to take a stroll through Fallendam, a ritsy suburb of Amsterdam where neighbors compete to have the best, most showy window displays in their row-style homes; see a cute harbor town with a demonstration of how to make cheese at a dutch cheese shop; get on a boat and ride over to an island where I stopped at a fish stand to try pickled herring on toast; see a demonstration of how Dutch wooden shoes are made; stroll through a beautiful little windmill village; and spend several hours in Keukenhof Gardens amongst the absolutely beautiful flowers, namely the tulips.
So all in all the tour was worth taking, even despite the fact that we had a set schedule and route (something that typically drives my aversion towards tourgrouping on my travels). Yet, we were able to see all the main sights for which the region is known, -which would not be known if they were not unique or special in some way. Therefore, I’m happy and thankful for the opportunity to see them.
Moreover, on our tour group, I met some sweet Thai friends with whom I practiced speaking Thai – even though seeing and speaking with them made me miss my Thai friends and ‘family’ back in Thailand where I lived in the fall of last year.
In addition, at the tulip gardens my mom and I were able to capture and submit a photo for the ‘Hope for Houston’ organization that is promoting awareness and calling for more research for muscular dystrophy. Houston is a sweet, beautiful young boy from our home town who is suffering from this debilitating disease. So any and all awareness that we can spread for this worthy cause is a blessing, as was my experience seeing Holland and all its natural beauty.