A Windy Morning with Windmills

Who doesn’t smile when they think of a windmill?  On this excursion during our trip on AMAWaterways, we had plenty to smile about.  

The rain held off for our visit to Kinderdijk a UNESCO World Heritage site with 19 windmills, some dating from the mid-1700s. In a country 40% below sea level, the windmills have played a significant role in pumping excess water into rivers to prevent flooding. Even Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport is below sea level, by almost 15 feet.

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Flower Power

Spending an afternoon at the Floralia Flower Show outside of Brussels was heavenly. Even if there were no flowers, who wouldn’t love visiting the grounds of the historic Kasteel van Groot-Bijgaarden. The immaculately landscaped 14-hectare park features beautiful lawns in every direction, shady paths for strolling, and a covered bridge. Birds were singing and flowers, naturally, were everywhere.

The show runs annually for about a month from early April until early May with more than 500 varieties of flowers. I loved the flower-peacock, think we could try that in Miami?

It was an explosion of color, take a look:

Welcome to Zeeland

After a morning cruising through locks and idyllic scenery, we have arrived in Zeeland in the southern part of the Netherlands. Today we are visiting Middleburg the capital of the province, in (as you can guess) the middle. From our riverboat, the AMAPrima, we took a two-hour walking tour into this charming city with origins dating back to the 1100s.

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Fields of Tulips!

The tulips are amazing.

Our first full day on the AMAPrima river cruising has been a delight. It helps that we are blessed with perfect sunny, cool weather. We cruised through locks, rivers, and lakes on our way to the charming town of Hoorn where we began our countryside drive to a working tulip farm.

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Miami like the locals

There’s more to Miami than South Beach. The Brickell area downtown makes for a great date night.  

Check out Brickell City Center: https://www.brickellcitycentre.com/

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Putting the pieces together: a Spanish Monastery for Miami


Time magazine called it “the world’s biggest jigsaw puzzle.” A cloister and refectory built almost 1000 years ago as part of a monastery in Sacramenia, Spain was salvaged from a Brooklyn warehouse and the estate of William Randolph Hearst – and reconstructed in Miami. There were 35,000 pieces in 11,000 wooden crates, mixed-up and misnumbered.

In 1925, Hearst purchased the former Cloisters of St. Bernard de Clairvaux with the intention of using it to surround his pool at his California San Simeon estate. Completed in 1141, it was occupied by Cistercian monks for almost 700 years.  Hearst’s plan was derailed by an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease in Spain, causing concern by U.S. officials who quarantined the shipment, burning the hay protecting the carefully numbered and packed stones.  Workers must not have been too concerned with any sort of system as they repacked the massive shipment. Read the rest of this entry

Best of both worlds: Life on California’s Balboa Island

Part of Newport Beach, the quirky, fun ambiance of Balboa Island is a welcome distraction from stereotypical so-cal and the traffic that goes with it. Once you are there, you walk.

It’s the kind of place where kids still color with chalk on the sidewalks, people of all ages hang out with drinks on their front porch, and dog-walkers say hi and let you pet their dog. The perimeter is a pleasant 1.7-mile walkway along beaches, marinas, charming zero-lot-line homes, and beautiful Newport Bay. It’s topped off by a cute business district with seaside-themed shops, casual restaurants, and the iconic frozen banana stands made famous on the Arrested Development TV show. Read the rest of this entry

Saying goodbye to Nepal

On our last day in Nepal, our plane didn’t leave until after 9 PM. The good news is we had a full day and didn’t have to be anywhere at dawn.  But we are tired and ready to head home. We arranged for a late check-out and rescheduled our final touring to make the day as relaxing as possible.

We spent our last hours visiting the oldest of the ancient Durbar Squares at the UNESCO site of Bhaktapur. We saw so much of the same type of intricate wood carving found in our hotel and enjoyed walking through the winding streets. We searched for (and found) the famous peacock window, watched the ceremonious arrival of some sort of VIP delegation, shopped, and people-watched.  Read the rest of this entry

Nepal explorations

 

 

We ventured to the nearby village of Bungamati, a 16th-century Newari village, and were lucky enough to stumble upon a major religious festival for women. Surprisingly, they don’t mind visitors wandering through. 

Kumari of Bungamati, Krupa Bajracharya.

They also have their own village Kumari here. Unlike the primary Kumari we saw yesterday, this is one of several others that live with their parents in surrounding villages. We were allowed to photograph her, so you can get a good idea of how they dress. She was out for the festival, to give blessings; I’m guessing about three, she seemed to really want to get the makeup off her face. Read the rest of this entry

Looking for Yeti

Wanting to visit Nepal has always lurked in the background of my mind.  Whether it was the required reading of Siddhartha in high school, the intriguing media coverage of the 70s rush to enlightenment on the streets of Kathmandu, or maybe just my penchant for Himalayan cats, I’m not sure.  But here we are – in Kathmandu.

My primary objective was to see the famous Himalayan mountain range and Mt Everest. A fly-by seemed just our style. Flights leave at 7 AM, so it’s another 5 AM wake-up. It was dark and hazy and at 6:30 they decide if the mountain is clear.  If it is, you go, if not, you try again the next day. November is reported to be the best month to do this and we had a perfect day, heading out with 14 other passengers in a Buddha Air, 16-seat Beech 1900D. Read the rest of this entry