Tulip fields forever. Well, that might not be exactly how that song goes, but for about two months every year, you can see tulip fields forever across the US and around the world. With their stylish shapes and resplendent flowers in a rainbow of colors, they are a welcome sight for our eyes and soul. Enjoy the drama of the fields along with festival events in the US and beyond.
1. Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
Every March and April, about 30 miles south of Portland, Oregon, The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, stages their rainbow of color, with the height of the season usually around mid-April, depending on the weather. The tulip fields are the main attraction, but visitors can also enjoy plenty of photo opportunities with Mt. Hood in the background, kid’s activities, hot air balloon rides, Wooden Shoe Vineyards wine tasting, a fun run and an Oregon favorite, Red Barn Hemp products.
2. Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Held in the Skagit Valley about one hour north of Seattle, Washington, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is a countywide Spring celebration of the tulip bloom. The tulip fields, events and activities are scattered throughout the Skagit Valley. In addition to the tulip fields, visitors can enjoy the Anacortes Quilt Walk and Art in the Schoolhouse where paintings, photography, rustic garden art and more are offered for sale. For a more active experience, visitors can also choose to experience the festival sites on a self-guided bike tour.
3. Tulip Time
Tulip Time, the Holland, Michigan festival is regularly listed on the ‘Top 20 events in the world’ by the International Festival and Events Association. This 8-day festival which generally is held the first week of May, provides tulip displays and entertainment with a Dutch flair for all ages including: concerts, food carts, parades, Klompen Dance (clog folk dancing), Town Crier Competition, Art & Craft Fair, Trolley Tours, and activities for kids. You might think about combining a trip to Holland with a trip to Mackinac Island and the area’s lighthouses - which is on my bucket list and a topic for another day.
4. Canadian Tulip Festival
This festival held in Ottawa, Canada in May has its roots in international friendship between the Netherlands and Canada during WWII. In addition to the more than 300,000 tulips in Commissioner's Park in downtown Ottawa, more tulips abound in the Garden Promenade self-guided or escorted tour of Ottawa's many public gardens. This year they also celebrate (virtually) with a formal event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands and the end of the WWII.
The world’s most famous tulip garden features over 7 million tulip bulbs and 800 varieties planted on 80 acres! Now that’s a lot of tulips! This picturesque park is located just 16 miles from Amsterdam. Besides the acres of flowers, visitors can enjoy spectacular flower shows, unique art and other tulip themed attractions for all ages. Combine your trip to Amsterdam and Keukenhof with a Tulip Time river cruise on the scenic Netherland waterways, beginning in Amsterdam and stopping at the historic cities of Rotterdam and Arnhem and the World Heritage windmill site of Kinderdijk. And to find out which river cruise line is right for you, just reach out to me. I can help with that.
While the tulip festivals listed are closed for this year because of COVID-19, most of these are offering virtual events through their facebook, instagram pages and youtube. There will be many things that we’ll get back to in our lives and the ability to move around freely and begin traveling again is certainly one of them. When the time is right, reach out for your free travel consultation.
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Classical music is probably something you think about when you think about Vienna.
Vienna is home to more composers than any other city in the world. Vienna is the music capital at the heart of Europe. Some of the famous composers that called Vienna home include, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Brahms and his famous Brahms Lullaby, otherwise known as Op. 49 Number 4. (I think about my mom when I hear that song. Does that song have a memory for you?) And Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, just to name a few. There are so many more! I’ve been listening to some of these composers while I’m writing this. Music can really set the mood! When you’re in Vienna, you can search out some of the places where they lived or performed. And even experience a concert, maybe even at the opera house, if you’re lucky.
Maybe Classical music is not your jam. But Billy Joel is. Do you think about that Billy Joel song, Vienna? Maybe you remember that song from earlier times of listening to Billy Joel. Or you’re still listening to Billy Joel. Perhaps you remember that song from that heartfelt scene in the romantic comedy with Jennifer Garner, 13 going on 30. True confession – I love that movie. I’ve watched it many times. 😊 But that movie has nothing to do with Vienna, the city, so let’s move on.
Architecture and art go hand in hand in Vienna as there are more than 100 museums in the city! You’ll find all eras of architectural style from baroque, Romanesque, art nouveau and modern. You can take a walking tour of the architecture of the city – great for those Instagram posts - and stop at some museums along the way. The Albertina Museum and Palace, which was once a residential palace for the Habsburgs, now houses one million prints and 60,000 drawings! On permanent display are works of French impressionism to Russian Avant Garde. Find Monet’s Water Lily Pond, Degas’ Dancers and Renoir’s Girl in these halls. Renowned Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt’s, The Kiss, is on permanent display at The Belvedere Museum.
“Do this. Not that.” Tip ahead.
Something I think about when I think of Vienna is coffee and wooden toys. I was on a Danube river cruise my first time to Vienna. In the evening we were treated to a wonderful concert of ballet and opera in a Viennese concert hall. Just imagine being there for that! The next day we took a tour of the city and also out to the Schonbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (I have a story to tell you about Schonbrunn Palace, but maybe for another time.)
One thing Vienna is known for is Viennese coffee and strudel, right? Imagine sitting in a Viennese coffee shop, where you look over the menu and see Mélange. What is a Mélange? A Mélange is a long coffee (quite a bit like an Americano – which is an espresso with hot water) with milk and milk foam. Ah, so maybe like a Latte. Some say like a cappuccino, but I think maybe more like a latte. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll probably mention it again. I love drinking cappuccinos when I’m on vacation. Anywhere. Something so vacation-esque about them. Warm, comforting, relaxing, contemplative. Anyway, onto your surroundings at this Viennese café. Imagine your surroundings with baroque and modern buildings around you, in the center of town near St. Stephens Cathedral in the car free zone, also known as Stephansplatz. You are just relaxing, taking in the sights and sounds, people watching and thinking, “I am in Vienna drinking a Mélange and having a Strudel. How cool is this?!” Doesn’t that sound great? I think so.
Next time I’m in Vienna, I’m going to do that. ⇧ Not this. ⇩
Instead, imagine racing around the streets, googling on your phone and looking for a toy store where they have little wooden toys. You want to find one for your little grandson. A darling car that you’re sure he’ll just love playing with. You finally find one. You’re so happy. But, as it turns out, it was made in Germany!
That’s my story. I have a funny way of finding things in countries that seem like perfect authentic gifts that were actually made in other places. So next time I’m in Vienna, I’m going to sip and savor the coffee and strudel. Or a Glühwein. I guess, a coffee and a Glühwein, would be what will actually happen. And I suggest you do the same.
You might want to check out this special coffee house when in Vienna - Vollpension
What will you experience in Vienna on the Magical Markets of Christmas River cruise?
You’ll have your choice of two included options.
The cruise begins in Vienna, but you can include another night or two pre-cruise. I recommend arriving early because of weather and flights. And there’s so much to see and experience in this magical European city!
What excites you about visiting Vienna?
Want to know more? Check out this magical itinerary!
Contact me to get started on your magnificent river cruise journey!
It’s not hard to imagine, since we’re on the tail end of winter, the cozy feeling of being indoors with a hot cup of cocoa, or hot spiced wine when it’s a bit chilly outside. Now imagine that when you look out your balcony door, you see the magical twinkle lights of centuries old European towns and their Christmas markets. What an enchanting time of year to cruise Europe.
Traditionally held in the town square, Christkindlmarkt, or Christmas Markets, have festive food, drinks and seasonal items from open-air wooden stalls while you are being serenaded and entertained with traditional singing and dancing. The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in Europe, and in many parts of the former Holy Roman Empire - which you’ll learn a lot about on your daily walking tours and are a part of the included excursions in most river port cities. In fact, Vienna, Austria’s "December market" goes back to 1298 with up to a dozen different markets in any given year—most of which are located around the famous Ringstrasse (ring road) that encircles the city’s historic core.
If you’re lucky, (in my opinion), snow will be falling down just a little bit as you sail along the river and will blanket the villages along the way. And you won’t have to worry about driving in the snow or being able to get your Christmas shopping done because you finished up your Christmas shopping before you left for your cruise. For those last-minute items, there’s time to bundle up and just walk off the ship right into the middle of the village or town where you’ll join in the town’s Christmas market experience and enjoy a cup of “gluhwein” and maybe a wurst or very large pretzel, or even a gingerbread cookie. And then after all of that, it’s back to the ship where you will simply love your four-star accommodations, with an amazing staff that addresses you by name from the 2nd day on, and you set sail overnight and arrive by morning for another day of enchanting experiences.
Be mesmerized by the Christmas markets of Nuremberg & Regensburg. Marvel at the small clay figurines representing the people of a typical village—the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker in Linz. Visit four amazing Christmas Markets in Vienna. Wrap yourself in holiday spirit, in the place, where so many Christmas traditions began.
If this excites you, and even sounds exactly like what sugar-plum dreams are made of, then contact me to find out more and secure your spot on a Magical Christmas Markets Cruise.
DAY DESTINATION ACTIVITIES
Day 1 Vienna – EMBARKATION
Vienna - Morning city tour with Town Hall Christmas Market or Alte Donau bike tour
Artisans and Schönbrunn Palace Christmas Markets
Melk - Benedictine Abbey tour or Danube bike tour
Wachau Valley - Scenic cruising or Melk to Dürnstein bike tour
Dürnstein - Walking tour and wine tasting or Apricots and Sweets tasting
Krems - Wine tasting or Evening walk
Linz - Walking tour or Full-day Salzburg or Castle and “Culture Mile” bike tour
Half-day Salzburg or Český Krumlov
Passau - Walking tour and Christmas Market or Passau bike tour
Regensburg - Scenic cruising; Walking tour or Bavarian specialties tasting or
Walhalla bike tour
Thurn and Taxis Royal Christmas Market
Nuremberg - City tour; Nuremberg Christmas Market
Cruise Main - Danube Canal
Nuremberg - DISEMBARKATION
OPTIONAL PRE & POST-CRUISE LAND PROGRAM AVAILABLE.
Perhaps you’ve cruised all over Europe and seen the coastal cities of Athens, Barcelona and Copenhagen, plus others. And maybe you have even taken a day trip to Rome or Paris. Or perhaps you haven’t. Maybe this will be your first foray into Europe. Either way, a river cruise is an experience to enjoy and remember.
One of the nice things about a river cruise that you will like is one of the most obvious reasons that people like cruising in general. Unpack once and see the world. When you board that cruise ship or river cruise ship, you check into your cabin, unpack your clothes and you’re set for the week, or two weeks or more! One week to two weeks’ worth of clothes easily fits into the closet and drawer space provided. And if you need to wash that favorite top cause you love to wear it every day, there are laundry services on board. (For tips on “packing inspired” check out my Pinterest board)
Because old world cities were built and grew up along the rivers, you will dock right in the heart of the city. At our first port of call on our recent Danube River Cruise, it was an easy walk into Budapest to The Great Market Hall and other sights. You will find that ease of getting in and out of the cities all along the way.
On a river cruise you can enjoy a luxury all-inclusive or close to all inclusive experience. Each cruise line is different as to what they offer in the way of inclusions. At the very least, all of your gourmet meals are provided along with soda, or a local wine or beer selection. Alcoholic beverages besides wine or beer are generally at an additional cost. Walking tours of the cities are included. These are provided by professional, local guides and may included different levels of walking or different emphasis of interest. On our Amawaterways cruise there were biking tours available. The bikes were also available for you to use on your own. Other cruise lines also have bikes available. Your river cruise may include champagne at breakfast, free internet access, and live cultural entertainment on board the ship.
River cruises are available in Europe, Asia, Russia, Egypt Africa and the US. With bookings up over 200 percent in the past decade, river cruising has never been bigger, especially along the rivers of Europe. Ultimately, there’s no answer to the question, “What’s the best river cruise?” But we can answer the question, “What’s the best river cruise – for you?”