In April we went to the Netherlands in search of the country’s fabled tulips. Luck was with us and we got there at the precise peak of the tulip season. We stayed in Amsterdam at the Conservatorium Hotel. The hotel is only a few years old and was built inside the walls of the city’s old conservatory of music which had moved to newer quarters. It clearly is one of Europe’s best. And unlike other five star, hotels its staff was uniformly friendly and helpful. Its location is also the best in Amsterdam. It’s a very short walk to the Concertgebouw, the Rijksmuseum, and the Van Gogh Museum. There are many restaurants within walking distance, but a traveler must choose carefully as their quality varies enormously.

We traversed the Dutch and Flemish towns and countryside abroad the Viking Lif which at the time we were on it was the newest ship in the Viking fleet. The ship is beautiful and its staff is first rate, especially housekeeping. The itinerary and tours were also excellent. But there were problems. The food was mediocre and that’s a stretch. The table wine was undrinkable. It was so bad that I wondered if it had been watered. Meals in the main dining room are single seating and served at a precise time leaving little room for tardiness. Dining is open seating and the smallest table in  the dining room has six seats. Thus, you never know with whom you’ll be with unless you’re traveling with a party of six or more and even then you might not be able to sit together as there’s a mad rush to be seated as soon as the dinning room opens.  You can eat on the terrace, but the selection there is meager.

I’m reminded of the old Borscht Belt joke. The food is bad. Yes, and the portions are so small. The cruise falls under the heading of “I’m glad I did it, but I wouldn’t do it again.”

The photos below were taken with a Canon 70D fitted with a Canon 24-105 mm L series lens. All there images were captured in RAW format and converted to jpeg in Lightroom 5.4. All manipulation of these images was done in Lightroom. The pictures can be viewed at a larger size by clicking on them.

Children playing on "Amsterdam" in front of the Rijksmuseum

Children playing on “Amsterdam” in front of the Rijksmuseum

Amsterdam home now an office building

Amsterdam home now an office building

Ships in canal

Ships in a canal

The building below lean so furniture can be hoisted to the upper floor and moved into the building through the windows as the stairs are too narrow to allow furniture access to the upper floors.

Leaning houses alongside canal

Leaning houses alongside canal

More leaning buildings

More leaning buildings

The pictures of the flowers were all taken in the Keukenhof  in Lisse outside of Amsterdam. The name means kitchen garden. It is only open from mid March to mid May and is typically at its best in mid April. We lucked out again and got there on its best day of the year with the sun out – a rare occurrence in a town where it rains 214 days a year. I’ve been to many of the world’s great gardens, but none surpasses Keukenhof.

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