Background - 28 March 2012The site of the 2012 Floriade is in North Limburg, an area of the Netherlands close to the borders of Germany and Belgium.
The Limburg area is noted for asparagus, mushrooms, blue berries and chocolate and hosting various festivities focusing on aspects of horticulture that vary from asparagus to roses.
I arrived in Venlo a few days before I was to join the official international media preview of the 2012 Floriade to soak up some of the local colour and to overcome the effects of that long haul flight.
Every time I visit Europe I am impressed by the bicycle culture. The well used cycle paths criss - cross the cities and towns and are well used. The relatively flat terrain around Venlo-Blerick lends itself well to this form of transport. I can't say the same about the weather for the few days I was there though.
Cycling in Australia always conjures up images of MAMILs. That is - Middle Aged Men In Lycra, you know, that stretchy stuff that leaves little to the imagination. Not so here. Cycles are a very convenient form of getting from A to B with no special clothes needed. I saw many mothers with pre-school age children tucked up in a purpose built extra seat on the bike.
I must say driving required a huge change in attitude for me coming from Sydney.
The steering wheel is on the left side of the car and the gear stick on on the right and the bikes have some priority on the road. At least they have their own pathways and sometimes traffic lights.
Generally though, I drove from Amsterdam to Venlow in less than three hours and found the roads excellent.
|Market square in front of the Stadhuis|
A place to stay
|Venlo preparing for the Floriade|
I found very comfortable resort style accommodation tucked in a forested section that was really quite close to the main railway station. First class restaurant and included heated pool and sauna. And you can't beat the hot chocolate sitting by the lake outside.
Bilderberg, Hotel De Bovenste Molen