Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Kingdom by the Sea

Keukenhof Gardens

'Twas many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea . . . but in my case the kingdom was The Netherlands. Back when I was writing industrial training manuals, my company had a project in Spain, but the engineering was being done in Holland. So I worked in Haarlem for the entire month of May—you know, May? When the tulips are blooming?
We worked hard during the week with some great people. The Dutch are amazing. Their language skills put us all to shame. Most spoke at least three languages fluently. Few people can be witty in another language, but they could. They were helpful, patient, and nice to work with. Another thing that struck me was how many really tall people there were, women as well as men.
Dordrecht Harbor
Our group was given a choice of sharing a room in a more expensive hotel or individual rooms in a more basic place. The unanimous choice was individual rooms, and so we went. The motel was very clean and pleasant with a few differences. To say the beds were single was an understatement. Most of the men slept with their feet hanging over the end, and turning over required some care, but they were comfortable. The bathrooms were completely tiled with a drain in the middle of the floor. The shower head sprayed over most of the small room, so storing anything in the bathroom was out. Even the towels hung on the outside of the door. The clothes area was a raised floor topped by a rod. You stacked clothes on the raised area and hung things above, no door or curtain. But each room had a desk and chair with an Internet connection. Very efficient and not uncomfortable.
On weekends our time was our own. Hard duty, that. Keukenhof, the famed tulip gardens, wasn't far (nothing in Holland is very far). I went to Gouda (pronounced HOWduh) and Kinderdijk, to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and to Apenheul Primate Park, a wonderful zoo in Apeldoorn where the smaller monkeys roam freely among the visitors.
That May was one of the great experiences of my life. Sometime I'll tell more about this one. But if you ever have an opportunity, GO!
What are some of your favorite places? Do you enjoy traveling? What did you like least?


Polly said...

It's always Italy for me. I've been to five continents, many different countries, but there's nothing like Italy.

Ellis Vidler said...

I never got there. We had a choice once, Paris or Rome, and Paris won. But I'm glad I was there. So many wonderful places to see.

una tiers said...

I can't get past being witty in more than one language.
Una Tiers

Ellis Vidler said...

Gosh, Una, I can't even do it one. But I'm impressed by those who can.

Vicki Lane said...

What fun that must have been! My husband and I visited the Netherlands back in the early seventies. We were smitten by the houseboats.

Ellis Vidler said...

Vicki, it was a wonderful trip. The lush pastures and contented cows impressed me. Most of the cows were lying on their sides, sacked out. I never see that here.

Anonymous said...

I loved Quebec City & Montreal in May, never wanted to leave Brussels.

I want to travel as traveling was back then, not as it is now. I hope I get to see all of Europe someday.


Ellis Vidler said...

Brenda, I can certainly understand that. Traveling now is no fun. If I could skip the airports, planes, and hassles, just borrow a trick from Star Trek and transport myself to some wonderful place, I'd love to go again.

I got to Quebec and Montreal one August, and it was beautiful. There are so many places I'd love to see.