We were again up at the crack of down and along having breakfast ready to depart by coach to The Hague. On the way we passed more of the flood control barriers and passed through Rotterdam. When we arrived in The Hague we went straight to an art gallery. The prime exhibit there is a Panorama of Scheveningen, the seaside resort which is a suburb of The Hague. The panorama is a 360o painting done about 150 years ago. It is done seamlessly and is hung in a perfect circle 120 metres in circumference. The space between the observatory platform and the canvas is filled with sand and various artifacts making it difficult - virtually impossible, in fact - to tell where the "real" foreground and the painting join. The illusion was heightened when a guide walked out on the sand and appeared to grow larger the further she walked away. The trompe d'oiel effect is hard to explain. It just seemed weird, but extremely effective.
The weather was a continuation of yesterday's sun and warmth. We hope this is here to stay, though we have been warned to take warm clothes with us tomorrow.
We continued on to The Hague's administrative centre, passing many embassies, the International Court of Justice, many UN buildings and other notable sites. The Square houses on one side the old senate building, which has now moved to a new building next door. The centrepiece of the square is an imposing building which looks like a Church or City Hall, but in fact is a banqueting hall. We returned to the buses and went to a Hotel in Scheveningen where we had a sumptuous lunch. The hotel is a beautiful restored building with decorated ceilings and beautiful chandeliers. The lunch was delicious. We then had a walk along the promenade which was adjacent to the rear of the hotel and admired a beautiful sandy beach, complete with an English-style entertainment pier.
We were then taken the short distance to the Madurodam Holland In Miniature. This is a collection of various scenes from around Holland, all to scale and with working models. The trains run. The traffic flows, and the outside lane travels faster than the curbside one. Ships sail. It is very similar to the Swiss Miniatur we visited at Lake Lugano several years ago, but the models are on a slightly larger scale.
From there it was back to the buses and a drive to Gouda to meet the ship. There was a slight panic form our guide when she realized the ship was not where it was supposed to be and her phone call to the captain was not answered. Just then the ship appeared, coming backwards into the dock, with the captain out on the wing of the bridge carefully conning the ship in - hence his phone being unanswered!
We were rafted with another river boat - a much smaller vessel carrying a group on cycling tour. We were soon aboard and we sorted some of our photos and showered ready for dinner. After dinner we went up to the lounge and worked on the photos over coffee before returning to our cabin to complete the job.
Tomorrow is the big day and the reason we are here. We visit the Keukenhof Gardens to see the tulips - hopefully in full bloom. The weather has been cool till now, and there is fear among the guests that we may be disappointed in the display. Tomorrow will tell. We will return to Gouda for time around the town and then sail before dinner for our next stop - Schoonhoven.