I had never been abroad until a work assignment took me to the Netherlands in the mid March in 2005. Our first day/night after the eight hour flight from Detroit was in Amsterdam. I remembered a great suggestion from fellow travelers, when making an international flight “not to go to sleep” when you arrive but continue to go about your daily activities until nighttime in your new time zone. I followed this suggestion and after dinner we were off to at the lovely was Hotel De Nachtegaal (Golden Tulip) Lisse http://www.hotels.nl/lisse/nachtegaal/
The Golden Tulip Nachtegaal is located in a well-known dune and bulbfield (tulips) area. Although I was in town in March, the hotel is ideally located near the beach, the sea, lakes and dunes, as well as the lively cities Amsterdam and The Hague about 30 miles away (48.2 km), 33 minutes by train.
The hotel has a trendy restaurant, a swimming pool, sauna, solarium and rental bicycles and boats. Nearby in seaside town Langevelderslag (Noordwijkerhout) we enjoyed a variety of restaurant choices, and settled on a quaint and colorful Mexican Restaurant, where we enjoyed conversation and margaritas. Timing of our extended business travel was perfect, as March is the opening of the world famous Keukenhof Garden http://www.keukenhof.nl/en/20/tourist-information.html. This year the Keukenhof opens on March 24, 2011 with a beautiful array of floral designs and garden displays.
An afternoon tour at the Keukenhof, walking among the tulips, the crocuses and other spring blooms was a colorful way to whisk the “winter blues” away.
At the conclusion of my business travels, I traveled to Lisse, a small town where company headquarters (Swets Information Services) was located. I stayed at a small traditional hotel, the Hotel de Duif http://www.centrehotels.nl/nl/hotels/deduif/kamers and enjoyed a lovely euro “apartment-type” suite at the bargain rate of less than $100 US/74 EUR. The Hotel de Duif located in Lisse, a picturesque village also known as the “heart of the bulb-growing region”. Lisse has traditionally been central to bulb-growing, not just due to its location, but also because of its role in the cultivation of, and trade in, bulbs. To this day, Lisse is still home to a thriving collection of bulb fields, major bulb auctions and bulb export businesses. I remember walking one morning to a local Pancake House and saw an elderly man walking his dog while wearing wooden shoes. Watch out however for the local friends who want to share a toast over some“jenever.” Dutch Gin, traditionally “jenever” is served in completely full shot glasses that have just been pulled from the freezer. The first step to drinking jenever properly is to keep the glass on the table, bend down to the glass and take the first sip without holding the glass. Before you know it, you will be dancing!
On my last day/night in the Netherlands I returned to Amsterdam. I was able to visit many local tourist attractions including the Anne Frank House. It was a solemn way to remember my visit to the Netherlands, a land of colorful flowers, artistic masterpieces, great pancakes, incredible chocolate, and friendly people.
It was an amazing trip overall, and I can't wait to go back! If you haven't been to the Netherlands yet, start practicing your Dutch with Mango, pack your bags, don't forget your clogs and make your way to the country that is famous for its tulips!