Netherlands – Day Eleven – Grande Tulip Finale

Netherlands – Day Eleven – Grande Tulip Finale

s I write this, we’re easing into Amsterdam Docks at 5 AM, bedtime chocolate melting on my tongue, coffee steaming, just having given the next boat dock-ward of us a nice wake-up nudge. It’s tulip day today. And it’s the day the wife packs, with all the hysterics and recriminations that brings.

Flashback: The last “final day” on a ship in Amsterdam, she broke her arm as noted HERE.

Fun fact: The cruise director told me that this ship takes 9000 gallons of fuel and on a full tank can run from here (Amsterdam) all the way upriver to Vienna. I have to admit that I’ve been thinking in the back of my mind about a computer game I could write, where you are a cruise director and war with the Soviets breaks out. You are way up river (Zurich) and you need to get your tourists down river safely to Amsterdam (or what is left of it). Along the way, you have to barter, bribe, or fight your way past locks and low bridges that might be set against you. Also, imagine other cruise ships, either radioing you for assistance (or trade), river pirates (on jetskis?) possible Soviet advances, nuclear bomb craters, fleeing refugees, aircraft strafing runs, all sorts of things. I’m smiling as I think of all those old cannons you see in all those tourist places – imagine arming your ship with them.

Well, it’s a nice thought anyway. I’ve always loved designing games in my head. As I get older, it gets harder and harder to find the time (my own, and others to play it). I remember my last game – Pathfinder, a truly wonderful game I wrote on Squiffy that hardly got any recognition at all. So I guess I’m saying that the hobby is no longer anything save a mental exercise to me now.

Time ticks down to our 6 AM breakfast, our 7 AM departure and all those tulips. So we’ll see. Wish I could read ahead in this blog (as you can) and see what it is I am to see.

So here we are in the current present. Today was a dreary cold day in Amsterdam, as many of them have been. We all boarded the bus for the trip out to the tulip… theme park? Showcase? Botanical gardens… I’ll go with that. Anyway, we were all dressed warmly but I really wish I did not have a cloth jacket (which holds water so well).

As we got close, our guide began pointing out the commercial fields of tulips on either side of the road. How to describe it? Think about a muddy brown field under a gunmetal sky, and suddenly, like the rejecting brushstroke of some Dutch master, a horizontal streak of red so brilliant it could serve as a traffic blazer. Then yellow, equally bold. And pink, eye-achingly bright. The entire bus was ooohing and aaahing and trying to take photos through rain-speckled glass, not realizing the absolute wonders waiting inside the park.

Through the front gate we walked, one of the first groups just as it opened, and the guide led us past artfully-laid-out display plots with tulips of multicolor heads, matched and contrasting to the fields around us. It was like Yellow Submarine, the colors bright and pure. We walked around, everyone half-listening to the guide’s talk and taking pictures of every head.

Of course, as soon as the guide turned us loose, everyone was off on their own, chasing their own literal rainbows. JB and I snapped about a hundred shots each, some of which should be positioned around this section of the blog. It was just amazingly spectacular. Leu Gardens, the botanical garden around the corner from us, is beautiful yet it only has two basic colors – green and brown. This was literally everything.

Of course, after three hours in the drizzle, we realized that hypothermia was starting to set in. Thirty minutes before absolute drop-dead left-behind bus boarding, we grabbed cups of coffee and quickly downed them. Then we returned to the bus, to sit and steam and shiver and eventually warm up. It was nice.

So, at this point, we’re getting our suitcases figured out and ready for tomorrow morning (when they scoop up our bags and take them to the airport). I am really not looking forward to tomorrow, with nine hours of air time (two legs) and four-plus hours of airport time (hopefully Reykjavík won’t be the mad balls-to-the-wall run it was last time). Even with the long day and early start, we won’t be home until 11 PM our time (with my brother picking us up at the airport, and then another Uber ride to our house).

I loved our time here. I met so many interesting people. But I just want to be home. I want to cozy in inside our little house, I want to pet the cats, I want to play my games on my computer and deal with my model train club. With all the cycling I’ve seen (today’s guide rode twenty minutes in the dark to be with us), I need to get my own ride back out on the trail. Like any journey, the return is the best part. You value the life you have and hold it much more lovingly after a long trip to a faraway land.

Any gripes and mishaps on our travel day, I’ll mention in a special addendum blog.

Thanks for coming with me on this blog.