Knox the Fox got to “tiptoe through the tulips” of the Netherlands with my friend Linda McClanahan and her crew of teacher and college friends self-named “TN Travelers.” This trip had been attempted three times due to Covid rescheduling, but the fourth bid was a go.
The Netherlands is known for its windmills, tulips and canals, which only challenged these TN Travelers as they toured it all, including the bridge featured in the movie A Bridge Too Far where the allies tried to secure five bridges from the Germans in WWII.
The Netherlands is among the world’s largest producers of wind energy with windmills becoming a symbol of Dutch innovation as well as a popular tourist attraction. Linda and the Travelers toured the windmills in Kinderdijk, built in the 1600s along the canals. The group learned a couple of funny history tidbits about the old windmills and the millers who would live in them. Beds were built to accommodate only the legs so they were built 3-feet long and the millers were expected to sleep sitting up as it was common belief the upright position would aid in digestion. In addition, their kitchens were in an out-building just in case they burned their food so they couldn’t burn down the windmill. I wonder if the first millers were very bad cooks and set precedent for the rest.
The Netherlands are also the world’s largest producer and exporter of tulips and the flowers are a major contributor to the country’s economy. Linda’s group visited tulip farms which produce millions of tulips each year. One farm grows 25 million a year and another, Keukenhof Gardens, had an unfathomable 7 million blooming while they were visiting. The gardens are only open for eight weeks, then close for the rest of the year as they dig up bulbs, plant new bulbs and get ready for the following spring blooms. Needless to say, the group ordered bulbs to be delivered this October for a touch of Holland in East TN.
Two great stories were shared with me about this once in a lifetime trip. In a small Dutch village, they saw a statue in a yard that was in all orange, so they decided the people must be TN Vol fans! In reality, they learned the entire country was decorated in orange for the King’s birthday which was to be celebrated in the next few days. Since their orange color was our shade of orange, Linda said, “They would be great Vol fans, they have the colors right!”
The other shared story revolved around a married couple working on the cruise wait staff. The group first met the same couple on a previous cruise in 2019. The group reminisced with pictures from the first trip around antics played between the staff couple and travelers’ group. Linda said, “We had such fun with them on the first trip and seeing them again was joyful for us and them!!”
We will continue to follow this adventurous group as they know how to intertwine history and fun.
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