Friday, 7 May 2010

Amsterdam & Keukenhof

Last weekend Linda and I did a somewhat last-minute job of organising a trip to the Netherlands to see the Tulips that we missed out on seeing last year, having arrived about a week after the end of the season.

This time we made sure to visit a good couple of weeks before the end of the season but managed a different oversight this time - we would be arriving in the evening of Queens Day; one of the major events on the Amsterdam calendar.

This meant we arrived on the tail end of some pretty chaotic scenes on the public transport and on the streets for our walk to the apartment where we would be staying. Fortunately the apartment (which Linda found after much searching) was excellent, with a canal view and an excellent coffee shop just around the corner.

The next morning also felt somewhat as though the whole city was suffering from a hangover.

Since we'd been to Amsterdam before we didn't feel much pressure to see everything, and the weather on Saturday was nice and sunny for the most part, so we happily wandered around the city visiting museums and shops and generally just enjoying the town.

The next day we headed out to the Keukenhof gardens, the largest bulb flower park in the world.

This didn't get off to a great start because we thought renting a car would simplify things by letting us keep our bags in the car while we explored (instead of finding a baggage locker at the airport, which is what caused us problems in Sweden). However the car rental was a bit of a mess and we spent what seemed like an age arguing with the rental company at the airport before we were finally able to get on with our day.

After this it was all fine, except for the weather which was rainy.

We drove around the country-side taking photos of the fields of tulips and hoping that the rain would clear a bit before entering the park itself.

An interesting fact about the tulips - it's not the flowers that earn the money for the farmers, but the bulbs. They wait for the flowers to bloom only because this puts the bulbs in the right condition to be sold.

After a while we gave up on the weather and just went ahead into the park.

It really is an incredible place to visit, with miles of winding paths through plots of flowers of many varieties. I liked to imagine that the rain and overcast conditions simply meant that the light was good for photographing the flowers (although in reality I was frightened of ruining my camera and our lenses kept getting covered in raindrops).

We spent our time walking in the park and ducking into shops and indoor displays to dry off.

After some hours in the gardens, we felt like we'd really seen everything we had aimed to see by coming back to the Netherlands. Which is not to say we wouldn't like to come back again, since it's a country we really enjoy visiting and I still have "riding a bike in holland" on my list of things to do!

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Coffee shop or café? Gorgeous flower pictures!