According to the date, spring has finally arrived. Rain and snow from the last few days doesn’t really give that impression, but the fields of flowers in the Netherlands do, and generally the best time of year to see them is late March through May. Seeing as K has wanted to see the fields of colour for quite a while, we recently had an impromptu trip to Holland-we packed our bags, booked a room last minute, threw our sleeping bags in the car just in case and headed westwards.
We arrived fairly late in the small town of Noordscharwuude but were greeted warmly by the family that runs ‘De Oude Koolschuur’, possibly the smallest Bed and Breakfast I have ever stayed in. Located in the attic of their family home, ‘De Oude Koolschuur’ is a one-room hide-away, with a double bed, a small bathroom area, a tv, cute furnishings, and free wifi. At my height (181 cm or about 6 foot) the facilities lacked a bit of headroom, especially in the bathroom, but I didn’t mind at all. We slept perfectly and topped off the great experience with a visit to the bakery in town. Delicious!!
Like most tourists, our visit to the actual tulip fields was on bike. The day was long- we picked up the bike from Noordwijkerhout and headed around the fields, along the sand dunes and through the countryside. We had lunch in a small town and waited to watch the parade of flower floats come through, complete with oversised sheep, dresses and shoes (this year’s theme was fashion). I have to admit my interest in the flowers dwindled quickly, but the change of scenery with the sand dunes made it all more captivating. Being out on what the Germans call a ‘Holland bike’ also added to the charm, and I felt like I got my exercise in as well as my sightseeing.
The bikes were pretty snazzy things, with their own locks attached to the mud guards and solid kickstands. Unfortunately, my one-saddlebag transportation system left my bike pretty off-balance, and it was also pretty windy. It only took one miscalculation and my bike, back wheel locked, was blown over. This would have been less than drastic if it had not been standing at the edge of a small irrigation canal. Frantically I scurried down the green-covered slope, buried my hands in the plants to keep from sliding in, and retrieved our semi-waterproof saddlebag and the bike.
Seconds later I regretted my actions, as stinging nettle burns spread from between my fingers and across the palm of my left hand. And so, hand burning whenever I came into contact with anything, I left the Netherlands with great, beautiful and painful memories.