I had a lovely, though taxing day today. My new friend Sue invited me out for a day-long cycling trip following a flower parade from Voorhout to Lisse. The idea was to take our bikes out there by train and then ride them along the parade route in time to catch the actual parade as it rolled into Lisse.
It didn't actually happen that way though. When we arrived in Voorhout, the parade was just starting. We had to weave through the onlookers to get ahead of the parade and make our way northeast to Lisse. We'd be moving faster than the parade, so we could still be in Lisse to see it roll by. But then we got lost... and sidetracked by the hectares upon hectares of vibrant tulips spread over the countryside. Sue insisted on stopping for pictures an aweful lot, and then at one point, no one was remembering to check our GPSs, so we went way off course. But no big deal, we were still ahead of the parade, and now we had a couple hours of sightseeing done.
We found our way to Lisse, thanks to the wonders of technology and the kindness of strangers, toured a beautiful church and perused the open market for lunch. Can I just say how awesome Dutch doughnuts are? NOM. I also had a shaved ham sandwich with caramelised onions and some tasty sauce along with some fresh squeezed orange juice. (...and I do mean fresh-squeezed. The oranges were right there).
The parade finally arrived in Lisse. (Have I mentioned that this is a multi-city parade? It goes all over the region, all day long). The theme this year was Broadway shows, so there were floats dedicated to Wicked, Westside Story, The Lion King, Mary Poppins, and Grease to name a few of the English ones. And here's the thing: every float was made of flowers. All of the colour, design, everything but the physical supports underneath were made of real flowers. The floats weren't only beautiful, but they smelled great too!
Dan (not me, but Sue's Romanian friend) wanted to go to "Goh-gan-hoff" (I don't know how to spell the proper Dutch name, but that's roughly what it sounds like) to see the apparently world-famous fields and buy some bulbs for his own garden in Belgium, so we continued North through the aforementioned fields. Even with the weather being less-than-friendly, it was a really beautiful trip. Along the way, we ran into the parade now and then as our trip took us away and back toward the parade route throughout the day. We biked North, then East toward Hoofdorp, where I knew there was a Gowalla snowflake to pick up and didn't want to miss my chance, and from there, we hit the Hoofdorp train station and went our separate ways.
Altogether a really great day. Going by my rough map (below), Google says we travelled more than 31K, which is pretty awesome.