Saturday 12th May
Floriade here we come!
And so, after breakfast we made our way to Venlo in southeast Holland, home of the 2012 World Horticultural Expo, Floriade. This unique event takes place every 10 years. Quite a few of my fellow traveller’s had been to Floriade a decade ago, whilst for others like me it was a whole new experience.
With tickets, cameras and maps in hand, and 6 hours to explore the 66 hectares of the Floriade site, the group was off. Hope everyone’s wearing comfy shoes!
With 5 unique themed worlds to explore, ‘Relax and Heal,’ ‘Green Engine,’ ‘Education & Innovation,’ ‘Environment’ and ‘World Show Stage,’ everyone was asking ‘Where shall we go first?’ And then the rain came, so the first stop for many of us was Villa Flora, Europe’s largest indoor flower show in the ‘Green Engine’ area. Wow! Even from the outside this striking glass building standing 30 metres in height is impressive and inside it’s a riot of colour. It’s a real showcase of classic, modern, trendy and extreme designs. Amazing flower displays all around, a huge wooden tree-house filled with ‘green sweets’ and even an elephant made out of orchids from Thailand. Brightly coloured buckets of flowers cascade down from the ceiling, trolleys of gerbera are here, there and everywhere!
The rain didn’t last for long, and so with the sun shining it was time to head outdoors. I wandered through the Easy Prairie Garden and then arrived in the Relax and Heal area before taking the cable car to the World Show Stage. A carpet of blooms paved the way to the stage where later in the day The Floriade Show took place.
Other highlights of the Floriade site included the China Pavilion characterized by lotuses and other typical indigenous flowers, plants and trees and a series of large ponds. There was also the Rabo Earthwalk where we ‘walked across the roof of the world.’
Sunday 13th May
Today we visited Keukenhof – the sun was out and not a cloud in the sky!
Sweets were being passed up and down the coach and a fabulous atmosphere surrounded us! We all enjoyed singing a host of our favorite songs to pass the time – Our Chalet Song, Tulips from Amsterdam, Little mouse on the stairs, Kookaburra… the journey soon passed!
Upon arrival in Keukenhof we set off for our canal trip; we glided silently through a tour of the bulb fields, where wildlife was in abundance!
There was so much going on – the bustle of Mill Square was exhilarating, the Beatrix Pavilion was home to the most spectacular orchid show and the Oranje Nassau Pavilion was too good to miss with its “trendy” flower arranging demos.
Not quite the carpets of colour many had hoped for, but nevertheless the rows of tulips still in the fields were an amazing sight!
At this point it was extremely hard… if not impossible to resist the smell of the waffles being served nearby!
We had time for a spot of souvenir shopping before heading back to Valkenburg.
On the coach we all had time to reflect on what had been a great day for everyone had had & how lucky we’d been with the weather. If only we’d been able to stay a bit longer at Keukenhof…
Monday 14th May
Just time for a quick group photo before leaving hotel.
I spy with my little eye… coffee and cake stop in ‘Spy’ Belgium
Time to weather the traffic back to Calais… and of course the M20!
We all arrived back on UK soil absolutely shattered after what had been an amazing trip! We’d walked our socks off, and captured many wonderful memories of our time in Holland.
I felt honored to have spent time in such great company!
Roll on the Cardiff Annual Meeting…!
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