The journey to Keukenhof takes about half an hour from Schipol Airport via Bus #58. Our cameras were already out by the time the bus made its way to the drop-off area outside Hoofdentree (main entrance). I brought along my slider and tripod for this probable photo-intensive trip.
Theme for the 63rd International Flower Exhibition: Poland — Heart of Europe
You can purchase the guidebook for €4 at the entrance. This year’s theme is Poland – Heart of Europe, maybe due to the fact that the country was co-hosting the European Championships with Ukraine.
“Are you sure?” asked the wife. “No, I made that part up. Poland was chosen because it is an important market for the export of Dutch bulbs and cut flowers.” I replied.
Next year (2013), it will be the United Kingdom.
Words cannot describe the bombardment of colours to our eyes as we walked past the throng and made our way into the park proper. Keukenhof opens only in the spring, usually around March till May every year. The rest of the time, they are closed for business. If you are wondering why they do so, wonder no more, after seeing what was on display, you would expect the gardeners at Keukenhof to have a really long year ahead as they start to remove the old bulbs and plant new ones.
Be prepared to have a big capacity SD card for your photos or videos and also ample of spare batteries. Flower aficionados or even DSLR aficionados would be having an orgasm while visiting Keukenhof when it is in full bloom. “I think I want to have a garden of some sort back home”, I told my wife, putting aside the obvious fact that we probably had zero knowledge in gardening and definitely not a green thumb in sight.
We started off by going anti-clockwise around the garden, the first area we visited was the Historiche Tuin (Historical Garden). This walled garden makes you feel like you are in a genuine castle garden. Having visited Versailles’ sculpted garden, this is the mini version.
Name me one famous Pole. ‘North Pole’, came the half-hearted reply
“Name me one famous Pole”, I asked the wife. “North pole”, came the reply. She was too engaged in photographing each and every flower there is in the garden. Why? She always had a thing for tulips, so this visit to Keukenhof was to fulfil her dream. Anyway, we were walking down the Walk of Fame part of the garden when I pointed out to her — Chopin. Yes, the composer is a Pole. I only found out about it 5 seconds ago.
The Walk of Fame lies along the Oranje Nassau Paviljoen (Oranje Nassau Pavilion). In accordance to the theme, this is where famous personalities whom have had a tulip named after them, could see that particular tulip blooming here. Believe me when I say the park itself is just one snapshot after another. We headed straight to the fountain at the opposite end which is in connection with another area of the park — Kinderparadijs (Children’s Paradise).
Get lost in the exciting maze at Kinderparadijs
Those travelling with children would find this part of the garden their saviour. Instead of warning their kids not to step on the grass at almost everywhere else in the garden, that rule is not applied here. You can pat the animals at Miffy’s farm, swing about at the playground or you could follow us and get lost in the exciting maze!
Coming back to my earlier comment on having a garden of my own, the next part of the Keukenhof gardens is the Inspiratietuinen (Inspiration Gardens). The gardeners have created seven gardens in different styles here, including a town garden and a woodland garden. So if you have the space and time at home to do a little sprucing, this is the place for some wonderful (or should I say, colourful) ideas.
Would you look at that windmill!
Another of my wife’s dream came true at Het Molenplein (Mill Square). “Would you look at that windmill!”she screamed in excitement. Suddenly, all thoughts of categorically taking photos of the flowers at Keukenhof was lost. Something huge has caught her eye. The Mill Square was bustling with people, especially old people. It dawned to me that I was being surrounded by mostly old people, maybe today was a discount day for the elderly at Keukenhof. You can take some nice photos of the surrounding bulb fields by climbing to the top of the windmill. This is also the embarkation point for the electric boat tours. I was hungry for some food after all the shutter therapy and we found just the right food for the cold weather.
The sign at the stall said ‘Broodje Warme Beenham‘, whatever that means. But the smell from the concoction that a guy in orange (typical) was too much for our salivary glands.
Broodje Warme Beenham. We have to try it!
‘We have to try it!”
Looks like my wife’s excitement still haven’t died down despite ticking 2 items off her wishlist. A short queue afterwards and this was what we ended up with for €4.50 per person — the Broodje Warme Beenham. “I guess it must be Hot Ham Sandwich in English.” Anyone?
A single bite of this sandwich sent the oily ham mixed with hot sauce straight into our cold bodies. It was tantalizing. The ham, prepared on the spot, was warm and the guy chopped it up into smaller slices. It was godsend against the cold weather. €4.50 well spent in my opinion.
(to be continued)