Tulips and windmills: Just another day in The Netherlands

Fields of tulips, The Netherlands

None of us would imagine a trip through The Netherlands without seeing tulips or windmills. But, of course, tulips don’t bloom year-round. And with that thought, we figured that if we booked a tour of Holland in May, we wouldn’t expect to see tulips in bloom.

But Viking’s cruise — Holland and Belgium — had other plans. Knowing that we were opting for the advertised “trip through a tulip farm,” we anticipated hearing about the business of planning, fertilizing, harvesting, packaging, and shipping tulips from one of the premier growers in the world.

But we never thought we’d be fortunate enough to actually see blooms on stems. But we did. Although a bit past their prime, the blooms charmed us with color and stature as they swayed in the early-morning breeze.

Here are the tulips, budded and full-blown, their swoops and dips, their gloss, and poses, the satin of their darks.

Margaret Atwood

But the surprises took another turn. The owner of the tulip farm (after her informative slide presentation) revealed a fortunate random act of kindness: her neighboring farm owner had planted several rows of late-blooming tulips that we could see if we re-boarded our buses and headed out to his farm — a surprise that lifted the spirits of all on board.

Red tulips: The Netherlands

Perhaps it was the vastness of the land dedicated to these brilliantly colored flowers that impressed us. Or the careful tilling of the land, the planting, cutting, harvesting, and shipping. Whatever it was, we learned first-hand the remarkable nature of this business.

Tulip farm owner sharing secrets of trade, The Netherlands
A tulip farm owner shares secrets of the growing and harvesting of tulips in The Netherlands.

The magnitude of the acreage as well as the backdrop of elegant wind turbines looming in the background formed a vision that will stick with us for a long, long time.

Tulip farm near Hoorn, The Netherlands
Last-blooming tulips on a farm in Holland

On the way back to the cruise ship, the bus driver stopped at De Herder windmill so we could wander around the structure and marvel at its construction.

De Herder windmill: The Netherlands

According to a website dedicated to the history and use of flour mills in the area, Meelmolen de Herder is near the site of one that could have been built in the 1500s. We were allowed to walk around and take pictures, but the interior of the windmill was not available to us.

De Herder Windmill near Hoorn, The Netherlands

I found that I loved taking pictures of this foreign-to-me structure, and I loved trying to capture smaller, more interesting angles rather than shots of the whole. I could have stayed much longer, taking in the details of the exterior, the tower, and the rotor and hub. We all could have.

Our next post will feature the windmills of Kinderdijk, a famous UNESCO World Heritage site filled with windmills in a natural, still-workable place in The Netherlands. Thanks, as always, for traveling virtually with us.

See the Netherlands,

Rusha & Bert

This post is one in a series prompted by a recent trip to The Netherlands and Belgium. Thank you to Viking cruises (Holland & Belgium 2022) and our travel agent, Lauren Gunnels of Ortelius Travel Advisors, for the arrangements and free time to enjoy the scenery!

10 thoughts on “Tulips and windmills: Just another day in The Netherlands

  1. WanderingCanadians

    How lucky to see some of the late blooming tulips for the season. I love how they come in such different colours and varieties. I’ve been to the Netherlands a couple of times, but never during the spring.

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      We now understand why so many people do go to Amsterdam in the spring — the tulips must be outstanding when seen in large expanses. We saw what we saw, and we’re grateful. But if I return, I’ll try to time the trip a bit better. Really interesting talks on the production end of tulip season!

  2. Curt Mekemson

    No tulips for us, Rusha. We started our Rhine River cruise in Amsterdam and have now returned here to fly home. We leave tomorrow. I really do like this city and The Netherlands in general. Peggy was actually a high school exchange student here in the 60s. I’ve been here several times but never managed to make it when the tulips were blooming. Glad you got to see some! –Curt

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Peggy was lucky to have been there for more than just a couple of days as we were. Amsterdam would be a great place to explore for several days/weeks. We’re glad we saw some tulips, but there was so much more that we enjoyed, and we know you did as well. Happy travels.

      1. Curt Mekemson

        I really like Amsterdam, Rusha. It is one, colorful city, filled with colorful characters, gazillions of bikes, fascinating architecture, good food, and the fun canals. –Curt

  3. dawnkinster

    Isn’t it wonderful how the people want to share their farms with you, want you to see all the beauty and understand the history. Love tours like this!

  4. Armando Garcia

    Hi Rusha. Your photos are inspired and your words lend such a wonderful new hue to the experiences we both shared. I read your text as if I was experiencing all this for the first time. I need to go into your blog and read up on our earlier pots of call. I’ve missed them and want to relive them through your eyes.

It makes our day to hear from you.