Day 5 – Captain Rob!!!
We decided to have a non driving day so we headed over to the town of Vinkeveen and hired a motor boat for 40 euros so we could explore the surrounding lake at our back door. Rob was finally Captain and I was his first mate.
We puttered along past baby sheep grazing contently in the fields beside the canal.
We navigate our way under low, low bridges where you had to hit the deck or you would surely lose your head.
We floated up through beautiful tranquil canals full of bird life with willow trees weeping aimlessly over into the dark mirror like waters.
Past houses, old stagnant boats and into the vast lake.
There are many islands our in the lake so we anchored ashore and went to explore what is called Island 7. Here amongst the covered reefs Rob spotted a rare gem. Two birds’ nests!!! The nests were full of plush down like feathers and topped with 6 large eggs. We only studied in awe from a distance so as not to scare the mother off!
We sailed on together enjoying our new found skill in boating!!!!
Our day started on the road by being stopped in our tracks as the road opened up to the heavens for the floating traffic.
We headed to see the coastline at a Dutch Seaside resort town of Katwijk. Here we found a gorgeous picture perfect coastline lined with trendy beach shore rental cabins and huge cafes filled with quaint cushioned lounges fire pits to relax at. Now we understand how the Dutch enjoy their vacation time. The tide lines were abreast with people enjoying their time fishing, cafes and restaurants were crowded and you had really watch you didn’t get scored crossing the road. Very few people walk anywhere here in the Netherlands – even grandpa rides a bike no helmet down a narrow road looking out to the sea view unawares that he is drifting within a cat’s whisker of our car. This is the land of Peter Pan where men stay young forever!!!!! Maybe bike riding is the secret to staying young as the whole country is obsessed by it!!! Bike riding is in their blood a push bike should fly on their national flag.
We headed off track on one of our spontaneous adventures that took our breath away. We spotted fields of hyacinth glowing gleefully in many brilliant colourful hues of the rainbow. As we walked through these flowering fields fully in blossom we were overwhelmed by the sensory experience. The incredible scent of fields full of hyacinths was an amazing experience. It smell divine and with it came the sweet sounds of the loud drum of humming of the enormously large bumble bees. A real sensory overload. Wow is all I can say!!! We wandered aimlessly full of awe for at the beauty a field of flowers’ presents.
On our walk back to the car we stopped at another gem! A patting animal farm set up for families to bring their young ones to. It was free to enter and had a community kitchen where people gathered to chat and have coffee. There were squawking snorting piglets who wanted a lot of attention, a really friendly big black shiny cow, big floppy ear bunnies, goats, tiny miniature ponies but the heart warming story was a surrogate mother sheep feeding two new born tiny calves. This is the hands on experience young Dutch children get to have. Also just before entering the area we also saw a deer park with a huge stag standing proud in the field. Flora and fauna is intertwined into life over here in the Netherlands.
A little further along our path and we once again were faced with fields of stunning daisies, more hyacinths and tulips. Flower admirers were out in droves biking along the flower field route. There was a real sense of calm and serenity amongst those who came to wander through the fields of colour.
We were eager to find out more about the flowering fields. We had many wonders. This is why teachers need to get their students out of the classroom!!!!
We were wondering when will they be picked as a lot of fields had open flower buds which would mean they wouldn’t last long.
After researching we were horrified to find out that after 2 weeks of blossoming petals they will be topped by a large tractor. The stunning flowers glory will end on the field floor, not collected or used for their scent. Topping the flower allows the stem to get more sun which improves the quality of the bulb. At the end of the summer the bulbs are harvested which is quite a big process ploughing them up using huge machinery and then they are washed, sorted, dried and packed. One tulip mother bulb is a little like a garlic bulb it produces many smaller bulbs. This is where the money is in selling the bulbs.
We realised this is why it is so special to visit the flowering fields as they are sacrificed and will never make it out of the fields to decorate anyone’s table.
So our next wonder was where are the tulips grown that are sold for their flowers???
This was a little disappointing to find out that they are grown indoors in enormous tunnels in countries such as Kenya. In this huge greenhouse tunnels they can control the temperature. The growing plants are cared for by robots. Yes that really takes the romance out of flower growing. After the flowers are carefully picked, bundled using x-ray machines they broad a night plane and make their way to the Netherlands to the flower stock exchange for a Dutch flower auction. This means that auction starts at the highest price first and ticks down as purchases compete to buy bulk flowers that are then flown all over the world to retailers for sale to the public.