Countries, Culture, Europe

Crocus gold… Valentine’s in Amsterdam and Ireland

When it’s Spring again we’ll sing again ‘Crocuses from Co. Waterford’.

Yes, I would and, when I can afford it, do cover my flower beds with tulips from Amsterdam.

And one we enjoyed on our visit to Amsterdam Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

Dylan promise: At the Dylan in Amsterdam

Where we also took home ice cream tulips (think raspberry ripple colours) from the Amsterdam Museum

And got a Spring out of them before we handed over the keys of chez notre maison in Ireland.

To someone we can only hope appreciates the opportunities as we did.

My wee flower in Amsterdam

The history of the crocus is also captivating.

We can date the crocus back to the Egyptians, Greeks and Menoans.

With a few pounds of corn served as a loan of gold and jewels.

The best place to see crocuses in Ireland is the Mount Congreve Gardens in Co. Waterford.

Purple reigns… in Co. Waterford

The gardens will open early this year on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

To showcase more than 20,000 crocuses in flower at the beautiful gardens located just ten minutes from Waterford City.

Which is a two-hour drive south of Dublin.

Which we all know is served regularly by our friends at Aer Lingus and Ryanair

For more on what the gardens have to offer throughout the year visit

The crocus story doesn’t finish there.

The Crocus Project from Ireland

The Crocus Project was launched in Ireland in 2005 by the Holocaust Education Trust Ireland.

Intended for pupils aged 11 and over it provides schools with yellow crocus bulbs.

To plant in memory of the one million and a half Jewish children.

And thousands of other children who died in the Holocaust.

The yellow flowers recall the yellow Star of David all Jews were forced to wear under Nazi rule.

Which Anne Frank had up on her wall of the attic house she, her family and friends hid away in from the Nazis during the War.

A giant: Anne Frank in Amsterdam.

On this the 75th anniversary year of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, where Anne and her sister Margot died, and Auschwitz were liberated, pay tribute…

By either visiting those sites or the Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam…

And also make use of the wonderful city pass

While all major airlines fly to Amsterdam I like to promote national airline carriers and recommend KLM

Me, I’m off to buy crocuses and tulips for someone who deserves them… and also The Scary One.

And I’ll get back to you on Friday, Valentine’s Day, with more blooming marvellous places to visit for gardens and flowers.


Hungry and Thursday – Dutch delicacies

There’s more to Dutch food than just tulips!

Come again?

Yes, the tulip as well as being the most beautiful flower in God’s garden also kept the people of the Netherlands alive during the Second World War.

When the desperate Dutch beset by famine in the Hongerwinter of 1944-45 started boiling the tulip bulbs to stay alive.

How bazaar: The converted mosque in Amsterdam

I’m talking crepe am I?

Well, no.

You can find out all about the tulip, how it was the flower of nobility, cost as much as a townhouse and was the subject of fevered speculation.

Leading to the first financial bubble. Visit the Amsterdam Tulip Museum yourself to find out more

Tuck in: The balcony is a convivial place to eat in De Bazaar

It’s next door to the Cheese Museum on Prinsengracht.

Now, I know the Dutch didn’t invent cheese, or the tulips (they come from Turkey and are thus named after the Turkish word for turban).

But they do have the best.

I recall myself and The Scary One cycling out to Edam only to find it was their half day.

But we did manage to stock up on cheese, a garlic one a particular favourite.

Did you really think I’d go for the veggie option?

The Netherlands are a real treat for comfort food eaters. Their crepes are as delicious as they are varied.

But watch out what colour of cafe you go into – my crepe on that particular trip made me feel a little too giddy of head.

While I discovered at the Netherlands v Greece game in Rotterdam that they put mayonnaise on their chips…

Chips and a football game… well, a girl has to be spoiled.

Thankfully she did wax lyrical about the Middle Eastern meal I took her to when we returned to the Netherlands after a 29-year absence.

Raw deal: I skipped the meat the next night but look at that cheese

In De Pijp’s De Bazaar restaurant, a converted mosque

A Tepsi Boregi vegetarian dish with baked non-leavened Yufka dough filled with fat cheese.

Served with salad, garlic and yogurt-flavour haydari dip, olives, walnuts and fresh mixed herbs and coriander and mint flavours.

I’m a bit more predictable and went for a fish dish.

But heck, I’ve done enough work here… you’ll need to read it for yourself

And George and Amal’s hotel…

Equally I should recommend here one of the best city cards