Warning: heavy flow of photos ahead.
I’m sure we all have heard about the fabled Keukenhof of the Netherlands, otherwise known as ‘the garden of Europe’, where, every Spring, around 7 million bulbs of flowers vie with each other demanding we miserable ugly human beings’ attention and admiration. The legend is true. But, oh, the legend you hear is nothing compared to what you can actually see in Keukenhof in real life.
As an expat living in the Netherlands (or anywhere in Europe for that matter), not making a pilgrimage to Keukenhof from mid-March to mid-May every year is a crime. Simple as that. I am all for a clean record, so, yesterday, amid a shitstorm of papers, assignments and other unnamed tasks, a friend and I still braced ourselves for an adventure into the real heart of this windmill-tulip-clog-cheese-dike country.
Okay, folks, let’s get it quick and sweet: Keukenhof is awesome. I am not the biggest fan of tulips out there (I am more intrigued by the history of tulips in the Netherlands… did you know that the Dutch took the tulip from Turkey and then made it their national flower? And have you heard about the tulipmania, that is a pretty strange story…), but oh how Keukenhof turned my life inside out upside down. This 32-hectare garden (biggest in the world) is a paradise (albeit a crowded one), with tulips galore, hyacinth aplenty, lilacs in abundance and narcissus everywhere, to name a few. The sight is mesmerizing, the palette of colors is inspiring, and the smell is… suffocating. Yes, I almost choked every time I passed by a bed of lilacs… and don’t you think tulips have no scent, theirs can be quite overwhelming in a place like Keukenhof.
The only downer is, of course, the people. We went on a Wednesday, and contrary to every bit of our expectations, it felt like half the country was also taking a day off from work. Nothing tooooo annoying, because this huge garden has enough space for all us eager visitors, but I can only imagine how bad it was last Easter Sunday, or this upcoming weekend (Konningsdag–perhaps the whole Europe will arrive in the Netherlands for an orange Saturday in Amsterdam and a sophisticated tulip-y Sunday in Keukenhof).
(enough flower for everybody too)
BUT, if you have the chance, you must go. Don’t let the crowd scare you away from such a wonderful place. That said, though, I have a few tips to make your life easier:
– Buy tickets online in advance to minimize the queue. If you live/stay in Schiphol / Leiden / Haarlem / Amsterdam, you have very straightforward choices.
– We live in Utrecht, so we had to take a train ride from Utrecht to Schiphol airport. Exit the airport from Arrival hall 4 and you should see the bus stop right in front of you.
– The first bus from Schiphol leavs at 8:30am so there is no point in arriving earlier than that, but it is still better than…
– Arriving too late in the day (too late means 11am and onwards) because things just get worse from there. We arrived at 9:50am and we had to wait until the third bus.
– The garden is ridiculously big, lemme repeat. Bring your lunch with you to have a small picnic because the five restaurants + numerous ice cream, coffee, sandwich stalls there know how to make money.
– 5 hours is sufficient, i.e. nearly enough to cover the whole garden. If you are photo enthusiast, a life time is not enough.
– Try to leave the garden at around 3-4pm because you will have to queue to get on your bus anyway.
And now… enjoy the view!
Such fine arrangement of colors, shapes and sizes:
Exotic varieties of tulips accompanied by even more exotic names…
Blossoms expanding as far as the eyes can see ;___;
Too much it’s kinda exhausting :D
But unreal beauty nonetheless:
Win XP desktop anyone?
Cheesy waves are cheesy:
An army of cheese…. flowers made from flowers:
Throw in a windmill to make the experience even more Dutch:
And a cow… (they have both fake and real cows there)
And a Japanese garden to make things more exciting:
But don’t forget, the canal is also a Dutch specialty:
Actually water in general is a Dutch specialty….
If you have time, don’t forget for a walk to the surrounding tulip fields… miles and miles and miles of tulips await!