Friday, April 24, 2015

Doing CELEBRATION the Dutch Way

Because this is the time for the tulip fields to be bursting with bloom, Astrid and I made the decision over a week ago that we would go looking this past Monday.  And since we were also waiting for the "invitation" to go pick up my "for life" staying permit at Immigration in Rijswijk, near the tulip fields, I said "It would be just like God" to have the invitation in time to hit both birds with the same stone.

Guess what!  My invitation came last week Wednesday, in plenty of time.

So we first drove the hour's drive to Rijswijk, a suburb of Den Haag (The Hague).

We walked into the Immigration building, picked up the number for my turn,
and, before sitting down to wait, were immediately directed to a booth where I picked up my card.
It took less than 5 minutes from beginning to end.

I am now officially a European Union Long-term Resident.
It means I can now live anywhere within the EU.
I need only to renew my permit every 5 years (like with a driver's license or passport).

PINCH ASTRID because this means she never has to worry about job security on my behalf again!

As we left to go back to our car, Mother Nature was celebrating with us!

From there it was to the tulip fields!

 As we drove along, Astrid had a great brain fart as she saw where we were,
16 km north of The Hague.
Let's first stop in Katwijk aan Zee by the North Sea for our koffie break!

And we did!
It would have been unforgivable to be that close and not SEE the sea.

Speaking of seeing, look at that darling church, built in 1461.
It's the St. Andrew's Dutch Reformed church, also called the Old Church or the White Church.

What is it about the sea!?!?!

And how can you resist this kind of art on the beach!?!?!

But...we were on a mission to see the tulips fields and did not linger in Katwijk.

It so happened that the first BIG field we saw was in Noordwijk, so that's where we stopped.
It's known for its bulb flower fields, just 11 km from the Keukenhof gardens.
(Remember when we were there back in April of 2010?!)

The colors were so bright my camera could hardly stand it.
Well, that's my story.  Actually, I had to mute them waaaaay down for Shutterchance.... you see here.  Maybe I was really too hyper that day and needed calming down?

So many varieties of roses tulips.  Did you know they have no smell?
I think the Netherlands would be asphyxiated by now if they did.

There was a section of newly formed blooms/buds... well as a section of hyacinths at the far edge of the field.
Hyacinths bloom before tulips, but they're obviously still in season...and smell BIG TIME,
making up for all the tulips all around the world that don't.

(remains of the day)

Because it was a Monday, there really wasn't a crowd. 
Lucky for us, I think we all were quite manageable in our celebration.

  As we left to go home, my excitement was heightened by seeing a heron at the side of the road.
  Herons are extremely skittish and can stand still for a photo if they allow you to get close enough.
Usually they fly away immediately (out of the image!) whenever we get close enough.

Sorry for how jerky this is's better than nothing, right?
We were in the car, which was not ideal.  Next time I hope to be standing outside.

And finally, of course, the weathervanes of the day.

That evening, once back home, Astrid treated me to a 3-course meal at a nearby restaurant.
How can you beat such a day of celebration!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Change gears now to closer to home, lest I forget my citadel walk from this past Sunday.

I borrowed Astrid's Garmin GPS watch to see if my walk would show what I expected.
It did!  You can almost see the ramparts.
The green drop is the Start and Finish point at our backdoor, walking counter-clockwise.
It was 4.38 km (2.72 mi.) in 1 hour, 4 minutes, stopping to take 15 pics and 6 short videos.
Not bad for a new knee! I'm ecstatic.

And to show what our citadel looks like right now, LOOK.
The yellow everywhere is rapeseed, believe it or not.

How can we NOT love where we live!

Even our windmills celebrate with us!


  1. This post is so great on so many levels! Of course...congrats continues to be in order!! And oh my...those tulip fields. Words can't describe and even as beautiful as your images are...I'm sure photos have a hard time matching the beauty as you soaked it all in! And yes, there is SOMETHING about the SEA. LOVE!

    1. I just realized that what's in this post, Robin, is about this past Sunday and Monday...two days in my life here in the Netherlands. You're so right about all the "levels." So much to see and do. I still pinch myself. Thanks for following along!

  2. Super exciting! The card, the knee, the tulips and everything else around you. I love how you live and celebrate life always.

    1. Thank you, dear sister. With so much to see and do, it would be a sin not to celebrate as much of it as possible!

  3. Oh Be Still my Heart! Those I'd love to see them. I've been to the big garden, Kukenhof is it?, but I'd prefer the many fields. And you two look so happy with faces to the sun. As Gotham Girl writes, this post is so great. Happiness, health (look at you bending over to take photos!), the gift of the Heron and my favorite: Astrid in the chair beside the bronze lady. Beautiful! Thank you for inviting us into your life.

    1. Be still my heart, indeed, Susie. I think I often feel that way even more so now after 5+ years. It just gets better and better. And there's never a sense that I'll possibly see it all and then go "ho-hum!" Astrid will get a kick out of your liking her in the bronze chair. Any time we see such a sculpture, we try to remember to get her in it. So fun! :) Thank you.

  4. Beautiful photos, Mom! I didn't know that tulips have no scent. I also didn't realize how close you are to the sea (please forgive my absolute lack of geographical awareness). I can hardly wait for Nicholas to experience all of this!

    1. Actually, Amy, it wasn't until this year that I realized that tulips don't smell. Then it dawned on me how good that is at this time of the year! The Netherlands would be asphyxiated every Spring by the scent everywhere!

      You have no idea how much we are waiting for Nicholas to come. I really hope it'll be something he remembers the rest of his life!

  5. First off, congratulations!!!!! The celebratory coffee break with that fabulous looking pie smothered in whipped cream looks devilish.

    Next, OMG, how wonderful to see the fields of tulips. Do they cut them and sell the flowers?

    1. Thanks for the congrats, Maria. I am tickled pink and am so glad I can associate that day with the tulip fields!

      These tulips here are too far gone to be sold for commercial use. Astrid assumes they are grown for test purposes and/or for the bulbs. The tulips just starting to bud are the ones usually sold commercially.

  6. It was a real celebration day. The staying-permit, the weather, the sea, the tulips, good company and to end the day with a I am NOT ready yet to die and go to heaven (grin).
    I hope to experience many more times days like these. We often pinch our self and ask, is this real?
    A fabulous post and I love the picture of the walking the citadel, what a great visual that is.
    I think I will borrow the picture of me next to the lady in bronze, for the day I retire........

    1. I couldn't have said it better myself! THANK YOU, MLMA. IHVJ.

  7. I am exhausted....just the coffee, tulips and beach and I'm pooped...but yippeeee you are now official!

    1. Exhausted but happy, Donna!?! It's hard to beat what I just found out is considered the 7th happiest country on earth. :)