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If you’re a florist, that is. I just returned from a fantastic bike ride here in Terneuzen.

Along my route today I found myself on the other side of town passing a garden center that I have had my eye on each time we have come here so I popped in. 20150414_120601

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I was in floral heaven for a short time.

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Almost as nice as the fields of flowers we saw growing on our way here Sunday from Amsterdam. Remember we went to Keukenhof Gardens on one of our previous visits and enjoyed it immensely but once is enough. Too many people in one place for our taste. Besides, I am trying to be easy on Kris so she feels like exploring Spain when we get there.

If you read my blog post from Monday you know that we stayed in Amsterdam for a few days after we arrived. Sleep is always a priority after a nine hour flight for both of us. I guess I don’t have to point out we aren’t as young as we used to be and I definitely need my beauty sleep. We grabbed a nap waking to a need for real food so we hopped on the metro riding it into the central station. This always helps us to get an idea of where we are and where we want to go in a big city. You can do the same with the hop-on hop-off bus too. Since we have learned to greatly appreciate the efficiency and cost of good metro systems we buy the “however many days you will be there” pass.

We exited the metro at Het Leidseplein; though a busy tourist area, it is a decent sized square filled with tables covered by canopies and heaters above your head. This is important when night temps can still drop to 40 degrees F. We found a table at Cafe Hoopman and ordered fish and chips plus a cheeseburger. Kris is still working out what she is able to eat so a variety is what we order. A short walk around after dinner, a sweater purchase (on sale and it was really cold) then back to the hotel to get to bed early for Friday’s day trip into Alkmaar.

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The first time Kris and I came to Amsterdam we visited for a week and did the whole tourist experience. This visit I had decided that we needed to take a day trip to Alkmaar (http://www.cheesemarket.nl/) only an hour outside of Amsterdam by train from the central station. Some of the best cheese I have ever tasted is here in The Netherlands. I am always trying to figure out ways to fit the largest wheel into our baggage. I haven’t succeeded yet but I will share it with you if I ever manage to do this. My luck I will make the evening news as “Tourist arrested trying to hide humongous cheese wheel in baggage home to USA.”

We arrived in Alkmaar just in time to see the last 45 minutes of the reenactment of the weighing, sampling, and selling of the large cheese wheels along one of the canals in the city center. Lots of stalls sold a variety of local cheese which we sampled and I only purchased one small wheel covered with wax and plastic. This is necessary to pass customs so I can bring it back home. Hard cheeses are okay to buy and bring into the USA but the soft cheeses you must enjoy here. There are stiff fines for bringing certain items through US customs and the soft cheeses are not worth the fine one must pay if caught.

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We also passed a haringhuis. You know, the stands that sell the slightly smoked (looks raw) fresh herring. I have repeatedly told myself every trip we’ve made to The Netherlands that I’d try this national snack food. Three years and four trips later I finally have. Kris took pictures of me while I sampled the herring while another couple from the USA asked me if it was slimy and awful. Surprisingly it wasn’t fishy nor slimy and quite tasty. The raw onions served on top of the herring gave it a good crunch. I still prefer other recipes used to prepare my fish.

Kris had read that Alkmaar is home to the Beatles Museum so we thought we’d try to find it but it had moved elsewhere to a larger location. At this point, Kris was feeling her recent surgery with the endless walking through Alkamaar’s large city center. We decided to find a cafe so we could sit for awhile and people watch. As we headed down one of the quaint canal streets we found the National Beer Museum De Boom. Here is the link and a few pictures- http://translate.google.nl/translate?hl=en&sl=nl&u=http://www.biermuseum.nl/&prev=search

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The tour in this 17th century building includes a look at the brewing process, various tools, equipment and machinery, and an incredible collection of advertising materials used to promote Grolsch, Heineken, La Trappe, Amstel, etc. over the last century. After you’ve climbed the steep staircase three floors you make your way back down to the pub in the basement. Did I mention that in medieval times and up into the 20th century this was a working brewery?

Outside the pub there is a floating barge on the canal where we chose to relax while enjoying one of the 86 Dutch beers that the pub serves from its “trying tavern” in the basement. Honestly, I have to say I enjoyed this self-guided tour much more than the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam due to the lack of crowds pushing at you from behind to get their free sample of Heineken at the end of the tour.

Kris and I decided that when we make our way back to this part of The Netherlands we will find a hotel outside of Amsterdam, maybe in Alkmaar to rest our weary bones before heading on towards the next destination.

On our way back to the train station we meandered through the streets enjoying the beauty of the city hall, old buildings and one of the churches. Then what did we happen to see- the last picture shows it perfectly.

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An Airedale named Ava was walking with her humans. Nothing like a doggie fix!

Next post will more of Terneuzen, oud Terneuzen to be more exact where we are staying this week.

Een goede dag verder!

Karen

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