Monday, May 31, 2010

Dutch Wonderland

When I was a kid, one of my favorite places to go during our summer visits to Pennsylvania was the children's theme park Dutch Wonderland. I loved the rides, the windmills, everything about it. I guess you could say that the Pennsylvania Dutch inspired my dream to visit the real Dutch Wonderland. Thankfully, the Eyjafjallajokul volcano held off and Marianna and I got to visit Holland...and during tulip season! A DREAM COME TRUE!!

On Saturday morning, we headed off for Haarlem, Holland to visit the hometown of Corrie ten Boom--a remarkable Christian woman who hid Jews during WWII. Her book The Hiding Place is one of my favorites of all time. (Read it, if you haven't!) We explored the little town a bit before our tour of the ten Boom house. The tour was really great. We got to go throughout the entire house and hear all the insider stories. How surreal to be walking through the home of such a courageous, Christ-like family.

After our visit to the quaint town of Haarlem, we got on the bus to Lisse to see the tulip fields! When we stepped off the bus, I was greeted by hundreds and hundreds of vibrant yellow daffodils and people-lined streets. We were thrilled to find out that we were going to be in Holland during the annual Flower Parade -- the largest parade in the Netherlands. We got our spot along the parade route and waited for the most amazing (and fragrant) parade I have ever witnessed. The theme was "A Journey through Europe"--how fitting for us!

After the parade, we visited Keukenhof Gardens--the most beautiful spring garden in the world, they claim! Oh and it was. I kept wishing that my Great Grandmom and Mom-Mom could have seen it. It was unreal. Here are a few pictures from the gardens, though they hardly capture its true beauty.

On Sunday morning, Marianna and I walked the streets of Amsterdam. It's a great city. I loved how the canals just run through all the streets. People love their bikes in Holland! You should have seen them. I especially liked the bikes that were decorated. They were super cute and helped with spotting your bike in a packed two-story bike rack. (Yes, they really have those!)

We got to visit the Anne Frank House. I have loved Anne Frank since middle school and was so happy to get the chance to visit the Annex. Otto Frank wanted the house to remain unfurnished since the Nazis stripped their home of all the wood and valuables when they were found. So the museum was bare, but it didn't even matter. The museum was absolutely incredible. Quotes from Anne's book were posted all throughout the house. They had lots of memorabilia of the Frank's in the various rooms and models of what the rooms did look like back when they lived there. My favorite place in the Annex (besides seeing Anne's precious plaid diary--that's a given) was Anne's room which still had the posters and pictures of movie stars that she put up to make the room happier. I just love her.

Unfortunately, we had an early flight back to Berlin, but I was so grateful that I had the opportunity to visit the Netherlands in the Springtime. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I do hope to go back some day and see more of Amsterdam!