Canal in Harlem
Today I met up with Anneke (one of our European guides) and our guest in Haarlem (located in western Holland) to check out the tulips on our Haarlem to Odoorn tour. Holland is a breathtaking country, where biking is the standard mode of transportation. There are almost as many bikes as there are people in Holland, 16 million and counting! Everyone bikes here and since the country is so flat, it makes for an ideal location for a biking tour. Not to mention it’s home to the Kuekenhof, the worlds largest flower expo. Today was the first day of biking on the trip, so we set out through the streets of Haarlem and along the canals that run through the city.
Once we got out of the city there are fietspads (dedicated trails for biking and walking) everywhere. We headed out to the countryside and through the woods. All of a sudden you find yourself in the dunes just outside Zandvoort. The dunes are part of a nature reserve, with a fietspad going through it all the way to the beach in Zandvoort.
We made it to Zandvoort where our guide Anneke was waiting with bananas and apples served up on a silver platter (the ALA way) we enjoyed our WOW moment while overlooking the beach and taking in the sea breeze.
Once we left Zandvoort and headed back inland, the tulip fields started popping up left and right. That’s when we knew we were getting close to Lisse, home to the Kuekenhof. The Kuekenhof was almost overwhelming to see; there are over 7 million hand planted flower bulbs each year, including 4.5 million tulips in 100 different varieties. Needless to say it smelled wonderful there and they had flowers that I couldn’t have dreamed up.
Sue playing in the tulips
After we got our dose of tulips we rode back into Haarlem where they were still displaying the floats from the flower parade. The theme of the floats was musicals; there were floats from the Sound of Music and Mary Poppins.
Sound of Music float in Haarlem
Holland is great choice for a biking tour: easy rides, plenty of fietspads (bike paths) and an amazing diverse landscape. I don’t know any other country that you can stroll by canals, play in the sand and frolic through tulip fields, all in the same day! That’s it for my first Austin-Lehman adventure, it started in Holland and ended in Holland. But along the way I got to drive on the autobahn though Germany, see the Austrian Alps, cycle through Tuscany, save the leaning tower of Pisa and smell the tulips of Holland.
This has been a trip of a lifetime, a big thank you to my boss Dan Austin for sending me on this adventure. With a 35-year legacy as an adventure travel company and specializing in multi-sport, hiking, biking and family travel experiences that are immersed in history, wildlife, culture and geography’s natural beauty. It’s no wonder why Travel + Leisure ranked us #1 in 2009 and #2 in 2010. The service and experiences that our trips provide is extraordinary. With guides who go the extra mile to make each and every moment special to offering adventure vacations all over the world. I got to see first hand that ALA is the real deal and I can’t wait for my next adventure!
Never stop exploring,