If it’s spring in Holland, there must be tulips.

Today we decided to head west through Belgium to the Dutch lowlands in search of some of those endless fields of blooming bulbs. Alas, either our timing or course was less than perfect for we saw but two multi-hector examples. No worries, though, it was a great day. I will confess to moderately in love with the Dutch, their easy going life style and their warm, inviting land. Spending a day in the rural lands where the ‘real people’ live is my idea of a nice day’s travel.

Tomorrow it’s up early and off to Verona. I’m missing the Netherlands already, but looking forward to what’s coming.

The grain in spain…

In addition to all Dutch things that grow, Floriade draws exhibitors from around the world. Hands down, the best foreign exhibit this year was the Spanish Pavilion. To begin, the building itself was drop-dead gorgeous and once inside, there were a collection of ten kiosks highlighting the diverse agricultural regions of Spain. My favorite display featured side-by-side videos of wine making and olive oil production. The differences were trivial. More information…

Floriade 2012, etc.

The central event for this trip was Floriade, the once per decade horticulture show the Dutch put on, and that was Friday’s destination. This year’s six month exhibition is being hosted in Venlo, near the eastern border of the Netherlands and about 45 minutes north of our hotel in Maastricht. It’s always an incredible collection of all things growing, but for us the 2012 event was a perhaps a bit less dramatic than the one in 2002. With that being said, it is still an amazing collection of exhibits and we had great time.

Today it was off to the center of Maastricht to take in a few roman ruins, churches, etc. The town was packed with shoppers, tourists and folks just enjoying the warm, overcast spring day. To be noted, Monday is Queen’s Day in the Netherlands and Tuesday is May Day, aka Worker’s Day, in much of the enlightened world, so the visitor count around here is not trivial.

Today’s only bummer is that my new Tamron 35mm camera lens has failed. It still works, but after every image I get a failure message from the camera and either have to wait a minute for the message display to time out or cycle the camera power. I was determined to only schlep one lens this trip, so either the shooting will be slower or Laurel’s Shure-shot will be the only recorder, which is probably a good idea anyway.

I’m skipping the Google plus idea.

Hello Rhine, and more

The end of day 2 here and already time is just slipping away. It’s been a chilly, blustery first couple of days in Germany and the Benelux, but that was to be expected. The big surprise of Wednesday was actually seeing our bags arrive in Dusseldorf. Our connection at DFW wound up being really tight—like 25 minutes—and we pretty much figured there was no way the bags would make it. Having clean UPs this morning was a treat. DUS is a sprawling airport and the rental car ops there are a total C.F.

Last night we went out for the traditional first beer, caught the underground into Dusseldorf’s centrum and then grabbed a bit of dinner at Himmel & ÄHD, just down the street from our hotel. H&A features hearty German food and lots of beer all served around groups of long tables. It reminded me of U zlatého tygra in Prague only with a bit more emphasis on food and no pictures of Bill Clinton and Vaclav Havel on the wall. The rule in both places is when you arrive, beer is served and it keeps on coming until you say stop—tally kept with marks on a coaster.

Circadian rhythm adjustment is coming along. 11 hours of Zzzz’s last night was a plus.

Below are the Cliff Notes for days one through three.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Begin/end   the day in:

Phoenix, AZ, US / in flight


PHX-DFW-CDG on American Airlines

Main   events:

Fly, fly, fly…

Culinary   highlights:

Breakfast this morning was at Dick Clark’s AB in Terminal 3 at PHX. I   jokingly asked our server if they were having a memorial service for Dick.   Her surprising response was that yes, they’d considered it, but they were a   Host International franchise, and Host wouldn’t allow it.

What   we learned today:

You actually can make a 25 minute connection at DFW for a CDG flight   and still have your luggage the connection.


In Flight



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Begin/end   the day in:

Paris, FR / Dusseldorf, DE


CDG-DUS on Lufthansa

Main   events:

Arrival in Dusseldorf

Culinary   highlights:

The Mixte from the Brioche Doree on the lower level of CDG Terminal 1   was pretty good—may have had something to do with being rather tired and a   bit hungry. The real food find was Himmel & ÄHD in Dusseldorf. Laurel’s   Schnitzel was wonderful and my Sauerbraten was fantastic.

What   we learned today:

The Dollar RAC operation at DUS is a bit of a pain in the okole.


Tiptop Hotel National. Located in a charming neighborhood, it was a   nice place for a wonderful night’s sleep after 30-somehting hours on the go.


Date:  Thursday, April, 26, 2012
Begin/end the day in: Dusseldorf, DE / Maastricht, NL
Transportation: Peugeot something-or-other
Main events: We told Randy, the GPS, to take us to Maastricht without using   highways. It was a nice 3+ hour drive, but there must be 1,000 stop lights   between the two burbs.
Culinary highlights: Buffet breakfast at the National was as diverse as any we’ve seen and   I ate, per spec, way too much. The prix fixe dinner at the restaurant in the   Hotel Kasteel Vaeshartelt was delightful. My kaas (cheese) for dessert was so   rich—dried fruits, figs and berries all paired with creamy, rich traditional   Dutch cheeses.
Calabash: It’s been two days now, and other than setting off two alarms at DUS,   I don’t think a major international incident has been created. Amazing!


Hotel Kasteel   Vaeshartelt just outside of Maastricht.


Just about set for the Grand Departure, Euro 2012 version.

2230 and we’re  just about packed and ready to. Not bad! A whole 13 hours ’til we’re wheels up. Seemed to take a bit longer to get all the ducks in a row this time around, but there were a lot of extra-curiclular activities  going on the past couple of weeks. Anyway, once the door’s closed  on the 757, there’s not much else we can do. Very excited!

Less than 2 and still a few Q’s

Still playing with the best way to do the Dalmatian coast/islands. The plan has been to dump the car in Split; take the ferry to Korcula and spend a couple of days there and then do a bus/ferry trip to Dubrovnik. This is OK, but there’s an issue of getting rid of the car on arrival in Split–we either need to drop it at the airport which is quite a ways out of town, get someone to open the in-town office on Sunday (lots o’ Euros) or find a secure home for it on Sunday pm. Parking in Split seems not to be the easiest thing to find.

There’s also a problem with the transport from Korcula to Debrovnik. Before June, ferry service is rather scarce and it looks like we’d need to leave the island at 6:00 am. Yes we can, no we really don’t want to. The option currently under review is keep the car until we get to Dubrovnik and maybe just do a day trip to either Hvar or Korcula.

It’ll get sorted out. Two weeks from today, we’ll be in the Netherlands!

Less than 3 weeks to Euro 2012

Planning for Euro 2012 is just about wrapped up. In retrospect, we probably should have done all the transportation stuff first, but that didn’t happen and now we’re working on a little complexity with getting from Split to Dubrobnick via either Hvar or Korcula. It’ll all get and it’s starting to pretty exciting. This year, we’ve even mapped out those all-important laundry slots.

A new 17-50mm f2.8 lens for my Canon arrived today. It weighs a ton, but I’m loving it. I think it’ll be a much better choice than my “back to basics” 50mm of last year.