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 16-21/4 2001   DIARY  

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 We just have time and money for a little quick holiday. The tulip fields in the Netherlands are enticing, and I may find some exciting plants for my collection of CAUDICIFORMS. It turns out we are too early for the fields, and the Netherlands and especially car hire is not quite cheap, but we get a really good trip:
16. We leave home about half-ten in our rented Ford Fiesta. 9 hours later we are in Groningen. We were delayed by 1.5 hours of slow driving around Hamburg, otherwise it went quietly at 120-140 km / h.

Germany is very similar to South Zealand. An eating and peeing break, then another with Brakwurst and soft French fries. Crosses the border with 120 km/h. Huge walled barns with a narrower farmhouse at the end. Canals, flat fields. Planning the trip on our atlas, which unfortunately has only the railways and not the roads. Is in doubt at a branch on the motorway, and asks a Danish truck driver for directions. We see one other Danish car.
Arrives in Groningen at 17.30. Really nice town. Canals with large houseboats, special fashion, museum, many churches, huge pedestrian system. Many eating / drinking places. Have Mexican dinner after the walk. Outdoor menu, but only in Dutch - uh .. That's might be ... Dinner 90.25 golden Hotel 111G / night. A golden = DKK 3.42

17. Buy two pairs of sunglasses for Rikke. Out to Hares and see the botanical garden. Large Chinese / Japanese department and large greenhouse with cactus and bromeliads. Giant elephant foot: 1 metre in diameter. Batatas, orchids.
Large wealthy quarter with thatched red brick houses. To Zwolle through agricultural land; horses, sheep, black-bred cows on a stable. Pollo for lunch, fun church; large with small tower on the side.
Zwolle and Groningen look very English. The houses with small fenced front gardens and the building style itself. We see the first tulip fields, but there are no buds. Huge though. We drive over the big Flevoland island and get to Amsterdam.

We agree to drive as close to the centre as we can. The streets become very small, very unidirectional and stuffy. We stop and as we find ourselves on a map, it turns out that we are right in the centre.
It is the redlight district with showcases. Some are fat, others in latex and chains and some are very pretty in bikinis. There is hash shopping, channels and several show windows. We try to find a hotel, but here in the area, it is per hour. Walk out a bit from the centre and find one. 195 g / night. When we are booked in, we find a parking lot under the opera house; 50 G / day !.
A few glimpses of sun during the day, 6-8 degrees. Many bikes. Trams in the centre. Postcards and flowers for Rikke's mother! Many houses from 1600, many churches. Italian Dinner, 68G.

18. Rikke takes a tram out to the van Gogh museum. B goes out to Hortus Botanicus which was founded in 1638. Palm house with Cycas, up to 300 years old. Two flowers; he and she, last seen 30 years ago. All the garden plants from nature. Butterfly house. 9 Welwitshias, Jatropha, Dioscoreaceae, Bowiea, Coccinea, Kendrostis, Fockea, Agavaceae, Brachystelma, Convolulaceae, Vitaceae Madagasker Kalanchoe beharensis. Long talk with the gardener.

Very small garden and only a few signs. 10G They are no longer supported by the university.
Zoo, where is the entrance? Walking almost all around the garden with a few Germans. Harsh fee: 28.50 + 0.50 for toilet! 2.50 for the map. Not that great or impressive. Only Dutch signs. Rain showers, rain and sun. The ungulates are gone, or fenced extra due to foot-and-mouth disease.
Back after Rikke. Finds flowers and clothes. Indian dinner 100G. Going home through Red light.

19. Too late,  and we have to pay 100G for parking, heading towards Aalsmeer (approximately), which is the world's largest floral action. Huge, 1 hour to closing time. Find a hall, I have what they have.
Towards Leiden; flat fields, mills, canals. Running on dykes; 5 meters down to the houses. Hortus Botanica in Leiden. You park in a parking lot on the outskirts of the city, and then take a minibus to what you want to go in town. The price is reasonable: Stay as long as you want, and by bus: 10G. Drink coffee first and then see their brand new greenhouse, which has a special exhibit with bromeliads.

Rotterdam. Arboretum: Cypostemma yuttae, Adenium glaucium, Pachypodium succulentium, Euphorbia hedyotoides. The most exciting ones are again closed inside. Rikke was sitting out in the hall, so I spend only 20 minutes in the garden.

Gauda. First, we can't find a hotel. When we finally find one, we get our own little apartment with separate bedroom, tub and kitchen for 154G. Buy sweets, coffee and Amarula (Baileys) for the tub. Spanish Dinner Tappas 100G. Some hail but also lots of sun. I have a cold!

20. Watching the Great Church. Beautiful stained glass. Then we drive back to Rotterdam to find Groos Scholten (teacher years later, it really was Grootscholten). First try to find the botanical garden again, it may be they know him. Runs back and forth several times, but without finding the garden we drove directly to yesterday! Going into a regular flower shop, where the cute girls do everything they can. End up with two phone numbers, but that's not them.

Then we must move on; The Hague SeeLife. We find the city and the area it should be located, but not a single sign. Asking us forward. Even from the parking lot, we have to ask for directions - talk about bad
signage! Then we find it, but have to wait a really long time for the guy to get his swap money by pipe mail!

Rikke wanted to borrow the toilet, but was told she had to wait, it was inside the hall. The couple in front of us get money back and I pay with Visa, as I started by saying. Only on the amount! Well, that is why we should wait for the change money!

Finally inside a small saltwater aquarium, whose force is the breeding of seahorses, rays and sharks. They have a tunnel under the shark pool. Their half-meter sharks are not as impressive as the North Sea Center's bull sharks. We have breakfast in the aquarium. I could have used the toilet, but the parking ticket expires now.

We are driving up to Amsterdam, I would like to go down to banks of river Single to buy some more caudiciforms. Parking - now it's probably free; the other cars have nothing in the windshield. Still have to pee. Trying 10 hotels - busy, last hotel we try has a vacant mini room with mini bed and then it is disgusting. We jus drive to Utrecht then. Yellow clinging to the front wheel as we get back.
It costs 135G to have the stain removed, and then we have to wait an hour - and I still have to pee and my cold bubbling merrily - the only thing merrily about me at present time.

Once we have freed the car, we drive to the Single Flowers Market. When get there at closing time, some shopping are already closed. Finds some big caudiciforms. 220G (95G the first time), but then there are also some exciting plants for the window sill.

Eating Turkish dinner. Very nice plates, 90G. Hotels on the outskirts of the city are also busy. It is starting to rain and we are driving to Utrich. No hotels in downtown, others busy. Then we have to go to Groningen 187 km. The first hotel we find here is busy, so we find the one we used earlier- only one room is available!

21. Quick bath and breakfast. Spends the last little money on gasoline and cola. A little shopping and then 11.30 towards Germany for German food. Trying to get winersnitzel, but have to settle for gordon blue. 52M.
When the ferry 17.45. The hometour offered lovely warm sunshine. Where was it when we needed it? At 20.00, Rikke looks at postcards at the gas station outside right outside our town, where we buy some food.

Price with car: 16,000. Better weather, more plants, cheaper and flowering tulip fields would have been nice, but it was a good trip!


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