We had a wonderful time on the bike and barge trip, the weather was great, the scenery was spectacular, and the mood of the trip was very relaxing. We did in fact see a lot of tulips, we were right at the peak of the season instead of the beginning of the season as planned. Apparently the Netherlands had a very mild winter bringing the tulips out a little earlier than usual. Even though the weather seemed rather chilly during our first week, if the winter doesn't furnish an opportunity for skating on the canals, it is considered to be mild.
Cycling in the Netherlands did take a little getting used to, there are often three different signals at an intersection, one for cars, one for pedestrians, and another for bicycles. You might guess that they would all turn red or green at about the same time, but if you did, you would like me, guess wrong. During the week of cycling, mostly out in the country, I never did figure out why and how the different types of lights would turn, I just took it on faith that proceeding on a red light was bad.
As I mentioned, the countryside was beautiful. With an abundance of water everywhere, everything was absolutely green or blooming. One surprise, was the number of birds that we saw, both the variety and the sheer numbers. It seemed like we were seeing different types of birds all day long, and other than when we were in a town or city, we could hear them singing. It was very special being able to see cranes, pheasants, hawks, and several kinds of ducks and geese. The singing from the geese and ducks wasn't quite up to par with that of the other birds, but it was fun seeing them as long as they were out of pecking range.
We are now on the train to Berlin, typing on a touch pad whilst riding with a few bumps. We decided to take off a half hour earlier than originally planned in order to avoid any complications with our connection due to delays. Today is "Kings Day" in Holland, which is probably celebrated with a number of different ceremonies, but the most obvious manifestation is the wearing orange clothing and drinking beer. We should have a holiday like this. There was a negative side effect however, the crew that man's the restaurant car and makes the coffee for the trip, did not show up. Perhaps they began celebrating too early. The conductor indicated there might be a chance for a new crew when we get to the border of Germany.
Our train trip to Berlin did not work out as smoothly as planned. Lighting struck the electrical wires which power the trains just ahead of our route. The train company actually did a pretty amazing job of pushing the train back to a station where there was electrical power available and rerouting us to get us to our destination. We did wind up getting there 4 hours late, but we made it! We just had a late supper and are going to head of to bed.
We haven't had a chance to sort through our pictures from the bike ride yet, but when we do we will post a link to some of them.
We hope you are all doing well well,
Stephen and Linda