If Japan has its Sakura in Spring then Holland’s colourful equivalent is surely its tulip fields. Today was the day when I would realise that ambition to find those fields of bloom. Bucket list
We awoke early again on the third day of our trip and after a quick breakie, we grabbed all the necessary things for the day: car charger, driving licence, passport, and that weird magnet thing I use for the phone, and we were out of the hotel. Yes we were renting a car. Our 24 hour travel ticket was still valid so we took metro line 3 to Cebtraal Station and from there train on to Schipol.
Arriving in Schipol we followed the instructions calling for a pick up. After 15 minutes of waiting I realised I suffered a blonde moment, I wasn’t looking for a gold car, but a Goldcar Van. Which was white.
The van took us 20 minutes away on the motorway, and after receiving the car, a Ford Focus, I promised this was the last time I would use Ryanair car hire. The car was an automatic (which I had never before driven), there was no snag list despite all the bumps around the car, and it later emerged that there was a strong smell of fumes from the engine. Ryanair had enticed me with 50% off but I should have known better.
Finding it difficult to find somewhere to put my idle left foot, we made the short drive down to Lieden. We had intended to have coffee there but having parked we couldn’t find a cafe to our liking. It’s a pretty canal side town, and as we drove around the town and out, we noticed some beautiful areas such as the Huigpark, but that lust for caffeine kept us moving.
Our first planned stop of the day was to the Keukenhof Gardens. These tulip gardens are one of the worlds largest flower gardens, with over 7 million flowers on show. Not sure who does the count, but an unenviable job. It only opens in spring for 8 weeks of each year.
We had bought the tickets online the day before for €16 each and €6 for parking. Not cheap but there is an amazing amount of work put into the maintenance here. The gardens are divided with structures in each corner each dedicated to different exhibits.
Our pre-purchased tickets allowed us to skip the queue and we made a beeline to the restaurant located in the Beatrix area. Those cappuccino tasted so good after along wait and they helped wash down the unplanned pepperoni pizza slices.
The park is best strolled at a slow pace, admiring the varieties of flowers on show and the complex arrangements. We found the indoor sections not to our liking, it wasn’t what we came for. So we only visited the Willem-Alexander and Oranje Nassau ones. Peaceful small canals dissect the park, and are crisscrossed by quaint bridges. Highlights of the park are:
- The beautiful mill which can be entered and gives good views over the tulip fields beyond from its l balcony.
- Navigating the maze to climb the watch out tower for more views.
- There is an optional boat ride out into the tulip fields but the waiting time was over 2 hours.
- The formal gardens surrounding Oranje Nassau, with fountains and beautifully tended shrubs
- The romance gardens and delft blue garden
- Strolling and getting slightly lost amongst a cacophony of colour.