Just a thought... The earth laughs in flowers. [Ralph Waldo Emerson]
Today, as this week comes to an end, I thought I'd put a ribbon on a trip that we counted down to for months - well over a year, actually - and that now is just a series of water-coloured memories. Make that canal-coloured.
I've shared with you moments with the guests who came with us (and from whom I've heard that so many want to attend next year if we take over the entire boat for the Rhine in 2020). But, of course, a trip to Holland and the rest of The Netherlands could not possibly be complete without a visit to one of the country's greatest treasures, called the World's Biggest Flower Garden: The Keukenhof.
Made up of 7 million flower bulbs blooming over 32 hectares, the work of nature, guided by 40 gardeners, was a lot to take in. And my former partner Mike Cooper was so excited to get there, he could hardly contain himself. Wasn't my Robbie surprised! (Many of today's photos, like the one below, are thanks to Mali Bickley.)
Open only 60 days a year, this is a world-renowned tourist attraction and, boy, we were lucky our cruise director Nick with AmaWaterways got us up and out on the buses early and through Amsterdam before roads closed in preparation for the big parade set for that same day. The attraction filled up hugely as the morning went on, but I was still so pleased to get pictures like the ones you're going to enjoy here today.
It did remind me a little of Victoria's own pride, the Butchart Gardens. Especially here.
I don't know if Butchart has these incredible beauties - the Camassia - but it looks like a palm tree sprouted tulips!
And how about this glorious purple tulip?
What wondrous colours hath nature's pallet!
Here are some more of the glorious sights of the Keukenhof, which includes plenty of indoor space and displays for those days when skies aren't as gloriously blue as they were for us in Amsterdam that Saturday two weeks ago.
And there are lovely animal displays and play areas; you saw Mike and me on the teeter-totter, but in the petting area you can watch a couple of real kids at play...
....or take in the brilliance of a peacock who's always ready for his close-up!
Speaking of which, here's your hammy correspondent as we get ready to pose for our final group shot. Oh, brother! (Anyone think Norma Desmond here, Mr. DeMille?)
And here's how that group shot turned out.
Ah, yes. So many wonderful memories and just a few that I'm saving for the middle of May for something special with did with our Lauren in mind. In the meantime, thank you for coming by and sharing this journal - this journey - with us. If you're at all curious about the chances of coming along for a trip on the Rhine in 2020, do send Gerry Koolhof a note. He's the koolest guy and a wonderful host...and he's the guy on the left in this shot. Have a GREAT weekend!