We were again up early this morning and had breakfast. We were all on the coaches on the way to the Kuekenhof Gardens. These are the old cooking gardens - vegetable gardens - of a royal palace, but now display spectacular plantings of spring flowers. They are only open from late March to the end of May.
We travelled north for almost two hours. The first part was through extremely busy traffic, then freeway for most of the journey and a short distance on country roads, We had left the ship in rain, much to our dismay as seeing the tulips was the main purpose of our trip and after three days of really good weather. However, as we approached Kuekenhof the rain went off and as the day progressed, the clod lightened, and Christine miraculously got one photo with blue sky as a background.
The gardens truly are spectacular. We were somewhat disappointed that the harsh and late winter Holland has experienced has delayed the tulips and they were still green in many places, but nevertheless the gardens are well worth a visit with many varieties of flowers. Christine was in her element and took 199 photos today. I confess I took over 100 myself. One of the surprising things we learned today was that the vast fields of tulips you see in photos are not grown for the flowers. They are cut off and destroyed. The valuable crop is the bulb. These are exported all over the world where people enjoy the colourful growth.
We met again just after noon for the trip back to Gouda and the ship. It was a slightly shorter drive. We had lunch on the ship then set off to explore Gouda - the origin of the cheese, and pronounced chhhowda, not gooda as is so often hears when applied to the cheese in Canada. We went along to a windmill for photos then up by the main canal to the Church which is buried amongst buildings and not facing a large square as is usual in Europe. We went on to the main square and saw the old City Hall, then continued up the main street browsing the stores and doubled back along back streets to the ship.
We sat up on the sun deck for a while enjoying the warmth of the sun which had decided to come out. I sorted out some of the photos and Christine took more on deck as we sailed away towards Schoonhoven which we reached just as we finished dinner. One of the couples is celebrating their 20th anniversary today and the chef had prepared a huge blueberry marzipan cake. Unfortunately we had left our cameras charging and were unable to photograph it.
We went up to the lounge for coffee and the cake was distributed. We had live entertainment tonight with a singer who sang many old songs and a lot of people danced. The music was very pleasant to listen to and we are still enjoying it as I write.
Tomorrow we are off to Amsterdam, a city we know reasonably well, but another canal trip is in the works for the morning and is always an interesting way to see the city.