Tulips in December?

Trip Start Nov 29, 2011
Trip End Dec 10, 2011

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Flag of Netherlands  , Noord-Holland,
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Are there tulips in December in The Netherlands? That was the first question that came to mind when our friends Barry & Karen asked us to join them in Amsterdam the first week in December.   We had had such a good time traveling with them last December exploring Paris together.   By going to Paris in December, we had exchanged sitting outside in a Paris café or strolling in a park with a focus on museums.  During the week we were there we experienced a major snowstorm & cold spell.  Versailles on the day of that snowstorm and the trees lining the Champs-Elysees draping with snow and lit with Christmas lights was sublime. The museums weren't crowded and we attended a choral concert in Notre Dame.  We enjoyed our late afternoon happy hours in our small hotel’s bar area.  It turned out to be a blast.    So when Barry & Karen asked if we would like to go to Amsterdam in December we were open to the possibility. 

Amsterdam has been on my radar as a potential travel destination.  I have wanted to go for the museums of the Dutch masters and also the spring tulip display for many years. Harvey wasn’t sure about the weather the first week of December.    It’s true that we would never have chosen this time of year, but we had such a good time traveling with Barry & Karen that we said "yes".  The good thing in going when it’s cold & potentially rainy is that the museums and cafes will be especially welcome.  On a beautiful spring day, I would feel pulled to be outside even though I would want to enjoy the museums. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe we’ll return in the spring in the future.

I really enjoy researching our travel destinations.  Learning about the possibilities, the culture and history is the stuff that I groove on.  There is so much information available on the internet, guidebooks and the TripAdvisor forum that I go into a sort of cocoon where one idea leads to another from the name of a book to a movie to watch to a question on the TripAdvisor forum and on and on!  Over the years, our style of travel has morphed.  Our first trips were with a copy of “Let’s Go Europe” in hand and total spontaneity in lodging & activities every day.  As our careers absorbed us, the two-week vacations became more & more planned and choreographed.  Over the past several years, we’ve experimented with renting a cottage in the North Carolina mountains, settling in to the location and simply exploring in a low-key manner.   With our cultural tour to China earlier this year, we continued the theme of “peaceful exploration”.    Much like when we go to a restaurant and view the long list of dishes on the menu and select a few, I create a “menu of possibilities” for our destination.   The “menu” consists of places, activities and experiences that from our perspective will help give us a sense of place and appeal to our interests in art, music, history, culture and physical geography.    It’s a very subjective menu!  We try to choose one main activity for the day and then let the day evolve from there, with the list as a guidepost for ideas. 

So now the questions started flowing.  If not tulips in bloom, what does Amsterdam have to offer in winter? What museums?  What live concerts can we go to?  Are there any special events this time of year?   Is there a particular day trip that is of interest? How can we get a sense of place?

                                                                                    "Nothing happens unless first a dream."
                                                                                                                            -Carl Sandburg
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