Just a thought... There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met. [Jim Henson]
Welcome to Monday! And just like that, a week of wonders and windmills (and wonderful fellow travellers) has come to a close. After an 8 hour long flight from Amsterdam to Calgary and then a connector to Victoria, Rob and I arrived home late yesterday afternoon to an ecstatic little dog and fresh flannel sheets in our own bed. Ahhhhh.
First off, our trip out of Victoria was a breeze and we couldn’t be happier with KLM Airlines. Our 9.5 hour trip to Amsterdam last Saturday and overnight into Sunday was so thoroughly enjoyable that we didn’t want it to end. We even ended up with these little Delft houses (with Bols Dutch spirits inside) as souvenirs! We didn't keep them, though, giving them away instead at our own private "Oldies Dance" on the cruise.
Following a smooth private ride to our ship, we boarded the AMAStella in Amsterdam. Interestingly, instead of a lifeboat drill (standard procedure on a cruise ship), we were told where the life jackets are (top deck) and given a pleasant orientation in the 18-month-old ship’s lounge. Here’s that happening gathering spot during a quiet moment.
To a person, the crew couldn’t have been nicer, but let me tell you about the people who came with us. Our group of approximately 50 flew primarily from the GTA and was made up of former (and current) CHFI listeners. Gerry Koolhof from New Wave Travel in Toronto did an incredible job of preparing everyone for their trip, arranging hotel stays before and after the cruise, as well as transfers, and basically made sure our every need was taken care of.
Rob and I have travelled as paying clients of Gerry’s for years and we were reminded of why again and again this past week. A fantastic time was had by all - to a person - a lot of new friendships were forged and we’re already talking about doing this again next year, perhaps in the fall (to give you lots of time to decide) along the Rhine through Germany. But THIS time we want to take over the entire boat. That would mean 150 of us (or so). Do you think we should give it a try? Do you want to?
If you'd like to touch base with Gerry, you can email him here. He's still on the road, so he may take a few days to respond, but I promise he will get back to you.
Our first full day, Monday, we were in Hoorn, NL. While some took in this town steeped in Dutch East India trading history, Rob and I (and 17 others) were guided on a terrific bike tour through the Dutch countryside!
Did we see windmills? Yes - one under repair and one that’s now a restaurant.
Later in the week there was a spectacular bike ride through a whole huge area of windmills (some 200-300 years old); more to come in a few days. Did we see tulips? Well, the cruise is called Tulip Time! And although the previous week most of the fields were a sea of green, fortunately for us, the flowers bloomed. This is just one of the spectacular fields we saw.
Cycling carefully to avoid other bikes (plus pedestrians and cars) made taking pictures almost impossible. But Rob managed to snap a few on our digital camera while he rode.
Some of our fellow adventurers took in a trip to an authentic tulip farm (if there are farms for synthetic tulips, I didn’t see any LOL) while others toured a museum…
….and walked the town square. Did I say “square?” Try and find a square corner on one of these buildings!
There were probably millions more tulips as the week went on, but I can't go overboard (so to speak) this first day back with you. It was just such a FANTASTIC group experience and we can't wait to do it again next year. Who's in?
Later in the week I’ll share some pictures with Mike and let you know how he fared on this whole trip, plus the events that were planned just for our special group. I really do love the idea of taking over the ship for an entire week and hope you’ll think about it. I’ll have more details for you - if we are going ahead with a 2020 trip - in a few days, or as we get them.
In the meantime, I’ve got some sleep to catch up on. Thanks for coming along and I hope you’re enjoying the trip. “Dank Je” and we’ll be back with you tomorrow.
(@erindavis on Twitter)