Will travel for tulips – Day 5 – How to spend a day in the land of tulips
I thought I’d only spend a half-day at the Keukenhof. It’s only tulips, I thought, and how can I spend an entire day just looking at tulips?
Easily, it seems. It was the most relaxing, happy, contented, non stressful day I’d ever spent traveling. The tulips were calming, beautiful, stunning, happy … everything. The tulips were everything. Anything less than a full day at the Keukenhof would not do it justice. I could spend every day of a week there and discover something new each time. It was that big, that beautiful, and that … I don’t know. Peaceful?
Spring break was the third week of April this year, so I had been thinking about visiting the Netherlands in order to see the wide fields of colorful, vibrant tulips. It seemed about the perfect time to go this year. Each year is different for the tulips, as it really depends on the winter and spring weather. The season typically starts in late March and goes until the first or second week of May. End of April this year turned out to be spot on perfect – tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths galore. The Keukenhof website has a “flower forecast” each year that keeps track of how the flowers are doing – very much worth checking out if you have flexible travel dates. Otherwise, later April seemed best, at least for me.
Tip: Buy your ticket for the Keukenhof before arriving in the Netherlands. It’s an open-ended ticket for one day in the season – so it doesn’t matter which day you go! That’s absolutely brilliant, especially if you’re there for a week and you’re not sure of the weather. Also, the combi ticket is best if you don’t have a car – it includes transportation by bus from the city center of Amsterdam to the airport, and then a second bus out to the park. It’s roundtrip. It’s about a 45 minute to hour bus ride from the airport – in traffic, expect it to be quite long heading back into Amsterdam especially. There are a few other cities where this sort of ticket is available as well. So worth not having to worry about transport! The buses can get rather packed heading back into the city, so it might be worth waiting until you can sit down, especially if you hit rush-hour.
Tip Two: If you want to visit the windmill or take the canal boat trip, see about getting those timed tickets first. They aren’t included in the main park ticket. The windmill and boat can populate quickly. I didn’t go up the windmill, but it looked really full of people. I’m pretty sure they monitor the crowds and only allow a certain amount of people up at a time. I ended up with a timed ticket for the boat for an hour after I visited the ticket kiosk. It was easy to occupy the hour by walking around the gardens and returning about fifteen minutes before the time on the ticket to queue for the boat.
Of course, there were plenty of places to sit, eat and drink at the Keukenhof. I found one restaurant that was cafeteria style and had hot and cold dishes. Soup, salad, pasta? Check. Smoothies and juices? Check. Coffee and tea galore? Check. It’s actually quite good food and perfect for warming up on a slightly chilly spring day.
Get a cappuccino to go and wander the lakeside and gardens. Wait for the perfect chance to take pictures, as people will clear out of the flowerbeds and suddenly, the best framed shot becomes available. It really was a perfect way to spend a full day.
Greenhouses showcased exotic orchids in vases and various floral arrangements. Everything was stunningly and beautifully put together. I ambled in and out and around until finding the classic Dutch windmill. The boat’s audioguide tour explained the history of tulip growing in the Netherlands, why tulips became “all the rage”, and how the tulips and other flowers are grown, bred, and harvested for distribution throughout the world.
I won’t write a lot more in this entry, as the pictures do all the work. The Keukenhof was stunning – and it still brings a sense of peace when I look at the photographs.
See – even a day probably wasn’t enough!