Monday, June 21, 2010

My 65th Celebration

Since I made such a big deal of it and took 379 pictures (pared down to 229)...and have spent a week working on them...indulge me while I re-celebrate my big day from Sunday the 13th.

First of all, we drove south of Gorinchem on Saturday, 171 km (106 mi.), to visit one of the top cities of Holland: Maastricht. That's another post (and another 231 pictures still waiting to be processed). But that night Astrid treated us to a delightful Bed & Breakfast outside of the city Arcen where we planned to spend the day on Sunday.

If you're ever in the area of the Arcen castle and gardens, we definitely recommend Het Logement in Lottum as your B&B. Everything about it was delightful. It's a tiny village but it has the prerequisite high-steepled church and the windmill. Oh, yes, and the sheep! And because it's known as a Rose Village, the entrance and exit greets you with a trellis of roses (when in bloom).

After a delightful breakfast at our B&B, we left for the Arcen castle and gardens just 2 km away. That was the plan for my see the next most famous gardens in the Netherlands after the Keukenhof, which we had visited in April.

As castles go, it's not the most idyllic or romantic you'll ever see, but it is indeed a castle nonetheless...and THAT'S romantic enough for me on any birthday.

We had arrived half an hour after the gate opened and were surprised that we were amongst only a handful of tourists already there. Arcen isn't as commercial as Keukenhof and not as well-known (have you ever heard of it??) but it's every bit as spectacular and BIG. We could have spent the entire day there and not seen every nook and cranny.

How do you pare down a couple hundred photos to a few collages? Not the easiest thing in the world but at least you get a taste. As the day went on, more and more visitors started arriving, but even then it wasn't hard to get most pictures without any people in them.

Whereas Keukenhof is most known for its tulips, Arcen is known for its roses...except that it has been so cold here in Holland this spring (yesterday we actually had to turn on our heat at home) the roses are not all in full bloom. Still, there was plenty to see and nothing to disappoint.

As we moseyed along from one section of the garden to another, we came upon a central green house/pavillion called the Rosarium where this delightful florist was putting on a Floral Theatre:

As you'd guess, he was a Queen par excellence and thoroughly enjoyed playing the part.
Next thing we knew, he had changed outfits and came into the audience to pick ME to go on stage with him. Instinctively I knew it should not be me (even though it was my birthday), since my Dutch is quite lacking, and was able to think fast enough on my feet to offer Astrid up as the sacrifice. Lucky for me, she was a real trooper (and probably didn't need to know a word of Dutch)!

And just like that, Astrid, who has an incredible Green Thumb anyway, created with Mr. Florist a floral masterpiece...and I got to get up close and document it all.
Queen for a Day. And Astrid didn't look bad either. :)

Now, are you ready? Here's the frosting on the birthday cake: a Rose Opera in the garden dedicated to Ginnie on her 65th birthday! Seriously.

It so happened that when we entered the gardens first thing in the morning, before many others were there, we got in on the rehearsal of these two ladies who would be performing at 6 different times throughout the day. The first concert was at 11 a.m., the one dedicated to me. How can you top that! It's not that the rest of the day went downhill from there but Man! They totally made my day.

Remember when I made a big thing about SENIOR DISCOUNTS starting at 65? That day I saved €2.50 off my entrance fee because of my new age! And a week later, this past Saturday, I saved another €2.30 on the Fast Ferry to Rotterdam (another post). So SEE. It pays to turn 65. Someone at my Shutterchance blog said I should start a tally to see how much I will save in a year. Because I've started the tally, I'll be sure to mention the total savings a year from now. Trust me. :)

In the meantime, happy summer solstice! We've been in the 50s for a couple weeks now, unusual even for Holland. But I'm not complaining. I love cooling off after all the celebrating.


  1. Happy belated birthday, Ginnie! Looks like you had fun celebrating.

  2. Hey Ginnie...absolutely beautiful photos! fun to look at...
    Happy b'day!

  3. That weekend was one big party to us both, I enjoyed Maastricht where you ended up talking in Dutch to two couples, the ladies were so pleasently surprised (and I was almost a glow in the dark from pride).
    Arcen was a delight, those two ladies were/sang beautiful, the joy they showed from the performance was enormous.
    With the florist, I was not too eager to be there in front of the audience...I did it for you, I had fun though and it turned out I got a beautiful rose (it still is in a vase at our home)
    Your 65th birthday turned out to be a wonderful weekend, I am so happy for you.

  4. You went to Keukenhof and all these wonderful spots and only 379 pix? Oh Ginnie, I couldn't do that! I'd go mad trigger happy (I always do).

    Say hi to Astrid.


  5. how much fun! Your photo collages are simply amazing. This is the type of trip I long for as well!!!

    You are definitely a lucky gal!!! I think I have a few years before I can start my senior discount tally.

  6. This birthday post is magnificent, showing a tremendous celebration. What a garden, and all those glorious people obviously celebrating you. He picked you! And Astrid did a great job, it all makes sense. Those ladies dedicating their singing to you is priceless. This is a birthday worthy of 65. Superb!

  7. Karen: I had a blast! Thank you. I'll never forget it.

    Susan: Thanks a million. I know you are still basking in the memories of your cruise. I love that I can picture it all with you, since that was the first one I ever went on...the Inside Passage!

    Astrid: When you think of all the memories we have already had in less than 7 months, we are so lucky! I love that these trips are a delight to us both. You are such a good sport. I love that you so willingly accepted the task of assisting Mr. Florist, in my stead. Harstikke bedankt. :)

    PC: Well, yes, Maria. :) I am learning to take no more than 400 in one day, which helps me at paring-down time. :) Still, I know I keep too many. But at least I'll have the memories. Thanks. And Astrid returns her HI. :)

    ET: You have a few years before your senior discounts, yes, but every weekend you can do something fun even if it nearby. That's what we're learning. Holland is such a small country but almost every square inch is packed with stuff to see. I want to see it all! :)

    Ruth: Thank you, sweet sister. It definitely felt like a milestone by the time it was done and over. :)

  8. A delicious taste of Arcen. Happy Birthday!

  9. I wish I could stroll though such a gorgeous garden wearing such a beautiful dress. But you wouldn't want to hear me sing.

  10. Susan: It was VERY delicious, indeed! Thanks.

    Sham: HAHAHA! You gave me a good laugh. Except, I know you DO sing!

  11. Had to come back to see the reply! And I finally noticed your new updated picture at the top of your blog. :-)

    We were listening to a podcast and I said that guy is dutch, being from an area that I thought was where you guys lived... It was a different village.

  12. Oh wow Ginnie! Your photos are absolutely amazing and so full of energy, but most especially love the pics of Astrid on stage! So glad you had a wonderful birthday, you deserved it!

  13. A belated congratulations on your 65th birthday! It looks like you had a lot of fun celebrating it. :)

  14. ET: I have just updated the header photo again, Jen, and like this one better. We were back at Kinderdijk last weekend, so I just had to swap photos. :) Thanks for noticing.

    Mad: That Astrid is so fun to photograph, so you'll see a lot of her over time, I'm sure. She's such a good sport. Thanks.

    Tim: How fun to see you again! I actually had been thinking of you lately. WOW. Thanks for stopping by again.

  15. What a delightful post Ginnie and happy belated birthday. What a tremendous birthday “day” it was – something to remember and cherish. Your collages are outstanding – I love the one with the flowers, but the others are very good too. I just came back from Long Beach with hundreds of photographs. I had many photos of the farmers’ market where we went and did not want to use the little program my daughter had placed for collages on my laptop because it is hard to mix horizontal and vertical pictures. I tried Picasa - but that was my first try and when I clicked on collage it placed all the pictures I took in the collage, not just those of the market. So I deleted it. I have a lot to learn in the photo department. It was so sunny, my pictures are kind of washed-out, but I used them in my post anyway. Yours are lovely as usual.

  16. Vagabonde: Your use of collages is one of the reasons why I started making them myself! Ruth got me onto Picnik, even though you have to pay for the premium version. Totally worth it, as far as I'm concerned. I finally can manage my myriad images! Thanks for your vote of confidence...and your birthday wishes, however late! :)

  17. Some excellent shots you have shown me, Ginnie. And I can confirm that the place has been well maintained in the past 5 years. And the flowers and the gardens were a delight. There were no performances though - so i liked the costumes that the performers had to show off. And I can see you had a memorable day!

    1. How wonderful, Ayush, that you have seen this very special place with your own eyes and that it appears to be maintained well since we were there. I'll never forget that day, especially with all these images to help me remember what a delightful birthday celebration it was. Thank you for not only stopping by to look but to comment as well.