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Friday, January 21, 2011

Holland Tulip Time Cruises


A spring trip to Amsterdam and Holland is not complete without a cruise through the Dutch countryside to see the tulip fields in bloom.

In addition to  visits to such famous sites as Haarlem, Delft, Rotterdam, Gouda, Amsterdam and the windmills of Zaanse Schans, boutique canal and river cruises include two of the most popular destinations in Holland. Not to be missed are:

Aalsmeer, close to Amsterdam, is the home of the world’s biggest flower auction. The auctions are held early in the morning but they are still very popular. Many tourists put their wish of sleeping in aside for a visit here. And it is not just for tourists, local cultivators and 1.500 foreign growers send their products to the auctions. The flowers are sold to buyers all over the world, more than 75% of the flowers and plants sold at the auction are exported.

Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden (32 hectares) is located between the two towns of Hillegom and Lisse, south of Haarlem. The park attracts 800.000 people during the open hours of eight weeks each year and it's one of the most photographed sights in the world. For the season of 2011, 7 million bulbs have been planted making the flower season something very special to look forward to.

To find a listing of cruises, view our newsletter - Tulip Time Cruises Newsletter
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Friday, January 7, 2011

Queen's Day 2011 in Amsterdam

HM Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Prince of Lippe-BiesterfeldImagine an annual celebration so anticipated that one million visitors are willing to travel from all across Europe and join the 750,000 locals for the world's largest street party. For more than fifty years, the annual Queen's Day (Dutch: Koninginnedag) celebration has been enjoyed throughout the Netherlands on April 30th, but none rival Amsterdam's.

Queen Juliana, the queen for whom the party-turned-carnival recognizes, was actually born January 31st, however weather during the season has never been suitable for such a grand outdoor festival, complete with music, food, and endless crowds of people.

More than a time to commemorate the Queen's birthday, participants dressed in Orange (as the Queen hails from the House of Orange) find themselves shoulder to shoulder trading valuables and other silly gifts, socializing, and freely drinking "event beer," which is available with a deposit fee and served in recognizable plastic containers.

Public transport is not available for most of the day and the streets become so crowded that even the city canals offer no relief - thousands of people escape to boats. Despite the overcrowding, the atmosphere is relaxed and joyful. Queen's Day is actually preceded by Queen's Night (Dutch: Koninginnenacht). Beginning the night before around 7 p.m. party goers will find festivities at local clubs and pubs. Young people are known to roam the city while others prepare for tomorrow's market.

Free Market (Vrijmarkt) - Dutch are known to love trading, even according to popular Netherlands website. The Queen's Day Free Market allows anyone and everyone to trade various types of items from home for items ranging from broken toys to excellent savings on electronics, musical instruments, and almost anything else you can imagine.

The Vrijmarkt is mostly a social occasion where if any prices are displayed, they are symbolic and "fun." Known as a great family activity, children are allowed to actively participate in the trading, selling, and buying. Queen's Day is a time of extensive partying, even boat travelers can be seen dancing on boats in the waterways, as rock music blares across the city from pubs, the streets, parks, and every other location.

Traveler's wanting to be in Amsterdam for this occasion cannot wait until the last minute. It is highly recommended that travel arrangements and accommodations are made months in advance of the April 30th Queen's Day Celebration. A good alternative to staying in a hotel is a boutique canal hotel barge!
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