Tulips, terrible tailbacks, terrific get-togethers and back on board Sunday

Freshly back in the Netherlands from my whistle stop family visit of England I had four days to sort out my possessions, repack my bags and spend some precious time with my daughter Hannah and son-in-law Pieter before leaving for Turkey again.

Tulip time in the Netherlands

It had been only two weeks since Jonathan and I had returned from Australia so it was good to have a few days to take things quietly and get over the flights, train and car journeys of the past 14 days.

What a fabulous array!

I was so fortunate to have arrived back in the Netherlands just at peak tulip time. Hannah and Pieter took me (in the campervan!) to a wonderful place called The Tulip Barn in Hillegom where a very enterprising young lady had turned her family’s tulip bulb growing business into a fabulous tourist attraction.

Enterprising young entrepreneur who started the Tulip Barn
I was fortunate to have arrived back in the Netherlands just at peak tulip time

As well as having 175 varieties of tulips (a total of 400,000 individual blooms) on display, there were various objects (a swing, tractor, a motor scooter etc) in the special “tourist” fields to help create the perfect Instagram shot.

There were various objects (a swing, tractor, a motor scooter etc) in the special “tourist” fields
A wolf wandered in from somewhere to take advantage of the photo opportunities!
There were 175 varieties of tulips

This magnificent display allowed visitors to really enjoy the tulips and to take all the photos they wanted without trampling over the fields where tulips were being grown for the sale of their bulbs. Such a great idea!

These tulips were being grown for their bulbs which are distributed to nurseries and garden centres throughout the world
More tulips whose bulbs are destined for garden centres and nurseries the world over

The Tulip Barn also had a large greenhouse open as a cafe, a food truck selling great food and the winning floats from the recent annual tulip festival.

One of the winning floats

The colours and different varieties of tulips were mind blowing and so glorious that even now I can’t help smiling when I look at the photos!

The colours and different varieties of tulips were mind blowing
They were so glorious that even now I can’t help smiling when I look at the photos!

What a lovely day we had.

I couldn’t believe that these were
actually tulips!
A last look at tulips this year

A couple of days later I was on my way back to Turkey. We organised a taxi to the airport as it was a work day for Pieter and Hannah. The run in was great and my driver had grown up with boats so we had plenty to chat about so I had no time to wallow in the sadness of saying goodbye to Hannah!

I was booked on a flight leaving at 12.30 and I arrived in what I thought was plenty of time (around 9 am). This was more time than I would normally leave but we had heard of big queues and hold ups going through security at Schiphol Airport.

Nothing prepared me for how crazy this normally ultra efficient airport was that day. For a start, it took me well over an hour just to check in.

Once checked in I went to go airside and found the entrance was closed due to the enormous queue, so I had to walk to the opposite side of the terminal building to find the queue. Once there, I found the end of the line was out of sight and trailed back all the way into the adjoining terminal building.

The end of the line was out of sight and trailed back all the way into the
adjoining terminal building
It took 45 minutes to get to this point – the normal entry to go airside (there was still a huge queue upstairs for security to negotiate)

By 10.45 I was back in the correct terminal but only just, and it took me until 11.10 before I was able to get airside and up the stairs to join the queue for security.

Nothing prepared me for how crazy this normally ultra efficient airport was that day

By this time passengers in the queue were being given water (more plastic bottles destined to pollute our oceans!)

More plastic bottles destined to
pollute our oceans
My heart sank when the queue upstairs
came into view

The wait continued until midday when I finally went through security and then passport control. I arrived at the departure gate at 12.30 – the exact time that take-off was scheduled.

The wait continued until midday when I finally went through security
Almost there!

Fortunately, the plane was delayed and hadn’t even arrived at Schiphol.

After a long wait for the plane to arrive passengers were finally able to board and we took off at 3.15. The long delay of course meant I missed my connecting flight but very fortunately when I got in the long line at the transfer desk, an airport employee asked which flight I was meant to be on, took my boarding pass and immediately brought me a new one, with my name on it for the next flight. All very efficient!

I had to go directly to the gate as the 8.30pm flight was already boarding.

Poor Jonathan had been waiting for me at Izmir airport for a couple of hours – he knew I’d been delayed but had no idea which flight I was going to arrive on. What a way to spend our 36th wedding anniversary!

Spring had sprung in Didim
Wonderful colour in the marina gardens

We had a busy week of preparations ahead before leaving Didim Marina on 6 May but had some great social events too.

It was such a delight to catch up with Phil and Lesley from Paseafique who we first met on the Indonesian Rally seven years ago.

Phil and Lesley’s S/V Paseafique

We had met up with Phil in Gocek in Turkey last year but hadn’t seen Lesley since the rally ended. Covid travel restrictions had prevented her from joining Phil as planned – he had left Australia a few weeks earlier than her to do some prep work on the boat. They were separated for many long months but happily they were now both back on board and ready for a new adventure.

Friends reunited!

We had some great times with them, along with Jan and Jack from Anthem and Adrian (and Marianne) reminiscing about the rally and South East Asia.

It was also good to catch up again with our friends Sue and John, from our buddy boat Catabella, before they flew off to Copenhagen to celebrate John’s 70th birthday on a cruise with their three boys and other family members.

Our buddy boat friends Sue and John

Too soon the day arrived for us to drop our lines. It was really exciting to be out of the marina and on the water once again.

On our way out of the marina
Great to be off!
Thanks D Marin Marina it’s been fun

There was enough wind – from the right direction for once- so we managed to sail much of the way to Turkbuku which was a fabulous start to the season. We even saw dolphins which felt very auspicious.

Jonathan checking out the sail
Using our new chart plotter
Seeing dolphins felt auspicious!
One of the many fish farms in this
part of the Aegean
Arriving at TurkBuku
Looks peaceful but the music was loud

Last time we went to Turkbuku it was during Covid and the place was deathly quiet with very few shops or restaurants open. This was one there was a real buzz as we strolled along the promenade.

There was much more going on compared with previous times in Turkbuku during Covid
One of the many lovely restaurants open
There were even people on the beach

Although early in the season, there were lots of lovely looking places to eat and have a drink and plenty of stores selling “resort wear” and souvenirs.

Wall decorations in the village
More tempting restaurants

We had a couple of very laid back days in Turkbuku relaxing and enjoying the transition from land lubbers to our life afloat.

This pretty lantana is a massively troublesome weed in Australia
The view from the back of Turkbuku

One day we came across a sleepy dog enjoying a snooze in the shade and then spied seven roly poly puppies and realised why she seeemed so exhausted!

Poor tired mama
Seven roly poly puppies

One by one the pups woke up and before long Mum’s peace was over and there were seven wriggling demanding bodies nuzzling her awake!

“Come on, let’s go wake up Mum”
Seven wriggling demanding little bodies nuzzle their Mum awake

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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