May 28, 2017

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Tulips in the Netherlands

How Destinations around the World celebrate the most-anticipated Season of all!

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Ship2Shore.TV

The calendar says it, even if the weather outside doesn’t – spring arrives this week! What a great excuse to travel! Here are 3 Trips to celebrate spring:

The Netherlands

It should be on everyone’s travel bucket list: a trip to Holland during its magnificent tulip season. The season spans late March to end of May.

Even flying in is like a magic carpet tour of a tapestry of colours, over flower-bulb fields in bloom. How big a deal are spring bulbs in the Netherlands? According to Holland Trade, the Dutch produce 80% of the world market in bulbs – growing 4.32 BILLION tulip bulbs every year! Just tulips! Could there be anywhere better to get into the spirit of spring than a bicycle tour of the flowering bulb fields in the fresh spring air?

Bulb-Fields by Bicycle in the Netherlands

In Amsterdam, you’ll drool at the world’s biggest floating market – also a great source for bulbs pre-cleared for you to import back into your country (normally, you can’t bring things like bulbs home).

A day trip from Amsterdam will take you to the 17-th century Keukenhof estate’s 32 hectare gardens where 7 million – yes million! – flowers are blooming.

And if you happen to be in the Netherlands on May 3, don’t miss the Flower Parade – where daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips become the medium for a spectacular display of floats and embellished cars.

Spring in the Netherlands

North Carolina

A road trip rather than an overseas flight, North Carolina’s unique coastal climate offers a springtime glory just that much earlier than those of us in cooler climes can expect at home. Magnolias and azaleas are the horticultural Southern belles of spring here, celebrated in Wilmington in an April Azalea Festival. The explosion of colour is the backdrop to a week of concerts, fairs, of course a parade and a Queen Azalea crowning. Costumed Southern belles promenade through lush gardens in a garden party and you can imagine yourself in antebellum splendor during home and garden tours of some of the most beautiful historic homes in the state.

North Carolina's Azalea Festival

Detour for a day to Carolina Beach – not just for the fresh sea air, but also for its Chowder Festival on April 12. The area’s best chefs compete for the People’s Choice award, so of course, you can only decide which seafood treat is the best if you try them all!

Azalea Festival photo credit: John Davis

Easter on a Caribbean Cruise

If your idea of celebrating spring is escaping changeable weather altogether and trading it in for Caribbean tropical heat, you could always celebrate Easter at sea. And apparently, the Easter bunny sails with you!

Watch more video: Cruise Ship Tour and Review: MSC Divina

An MSC Cruises Easter-themed, week-long cruise departs April 19th from Miami. Italian MSC Cruises, which claims to be the only cruise line in which kids sail free year-round, is offering special rates and a full week of Easter fun for kids and parents alike.

The MSC Divina's splasy escort

This MSC Divina Caribbean sailing will feature a variety of specially created “Easter-themed” activities, including a Kids’ “Easter hunt”, costume parades, arts and crafts, Easter chef classes and chocolate Easter eggs of course.

On board MSC Divina and across the fleet, guests will enjoy special Easter menus in the ships’ main restaurants. Guests can savor a delicious Easter Gala with Italian flavours on April 20th, featuring dishes such as swordfish and oven roasted tomato slices with thyme and, an assortment of delicious soups and salads, homemade pasta and risotto dishes, such as risotto with Swiss chard and roasted sea scallops flavored with orange, and entrees including “thyme crusted lamb chops” and “salmon steak au gratin with butter and thyme”.

Featured desserts include Italian traditional Easter Dove Cake, “Pastiera Napoletana” Neapolitan tart with cooked wheat berries, Ricotta cheese and orange blossom water and a mouth-watering Easter chocolate cake.

Following up on April 21st, guests will be treated to a special Easter lunch “La Pasquetta,” featuring traditional Italian dishes, such as “Torta Pasqualina”, a puff pastry pie filled with spinach, Ricotta cheese and egg, “Cannelloni gratinati al forno” au gratin filled with salmon and asparagus, and “Mezzemaniche con broccoletti” with broccoli in monkfish sauce with fresh basil, among many other tasty options.

And the best part for Moms and Dads? Someone else is making the gourmet Easter meals!

Bonus Spring Escape: Spain’s April Fair

April Fair in Seville

Oddly, this week-long “April” fair in Seville actually takes place this year in May, from the 6th to the 11th.
Created in 1847 as a cattle fair, over time the fiesta became a permanent fixture in Seville’s social calendar. More than a thousand “casetas” or tents installed in the fairground area become the second home of the city’s inhabitants. Throughout the fair, people wear typical (editor’s note: and very sexy!) Andalusian dress: the men wear the typical outfit of the Spanish ‘cowboy’, and the women wear flamenco or gypsy dresses.

The fiesta officially begins with the illumination of thousands of multi-coloured light bulbs in the fairground and adorning the main gateway, which is almost 50 metres high and has a different motif every year. Once inside the gate you come to the “casetas”, and it is here where you really experience the fair. These tents belong to groups of friends and associates, and are a family space where acquaintances, relations and guests are welcomed in and plied with delicious food and wine; there is singing, good conversation and of course, “sevillanas”, the local version of flamenco dancing.

Fireworks, a horse and carriage parade, even a bullfight add to the traditional Andalusian atmosphere – although I would categorically refuse to attend the bullfight, it does reflect the festival’s roots as a cattle fair, and is still important to the local people whose festival this is.

 

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