The spring has finally come to Netherlands. Since the warm weather is rare here, we decided to take the maximum out of it and plan a 2 days trip. The first day was dedicated to the beauty of tulip flowers in Keukenhof and to the small canal town Leiden whereas the second day we spend in The Hague.
Huge expectations from Keukenhof
Being told to be the most beautiful spring garden in the world we had huge expectations from Keukenhof. The garden can be visited only 8 weeks within a year when the 7 million tulips and other flowers cover the park with beautiful colours and fragrances. Yes, sounds amazing! Unfortunately that also explains one hour in traffic jam while waiting for some parking place. The tip for you: try to visit the garden during some working day when less people are expected. Or, why not to rent a bike in Leiden and drive to Keukenhof? The journey would take you some 1 hour on cycling track and you could enjoy flower fields out of the garden as well.
Thousands of tourists…
When we finally entered the garden (entrance fee for adult was 16 EUR) we took the free map of the park and planed our journey. Part of the garden next to the entrance was super crowded by tourists and this, somehow, destroyed the atmosphere the flowers were creating. A small initial disappointment was luckily quickly overcomed. Moving further we entered the less crowded areas which allowed us to start admiring whole that beauty. The park is huge and contains of many different zones and flower expositions. You can make picture with the typical Dutch view – old windmill with the tulip fields behind – of course if you catch the moment when no tourist is standing in between. Well, look at my picture and judge if I succeeded.
A small ZOO in the middle of flower garden
In Keukenhof I saw something which I have never seen before. In the middle of flowers we found a little ZOO with farming animals. Well, nothing special, you might say. But interesting was the fact that you could enter the fence and get into close contact with all the animals. You should have seen it – children running next to the chicken or playing with small goats. The pink pig was relaxing in the grass while the peacock was showing his beautiful feathers. The fun to observe all these from close distance – not only for the children.
Keukenhof – paradise on Earth for tulip lovers!
After climbing the small observation tower hidden in the labyrinth we decided to take a short lunch nap in the sun close to the tulip flowers. Actually in Keukenhof you are never too far from tulips. It is paradise on Earth for a person who´s most favourite flower is tulip such as for me. I have never seen so many different kinds, sizes and colours before. And of course, the fragrance of the flowers in the whole park contributes to this awesome atmosphere. The gardeners have done a perfect job and designed the park in a way that everybody finds some perfect place for himself or herself. First we thought we will spend there some 3-4 hours but in the end the whole one day was not enough. So here is another tip for you: reserve enough time for your visit to avoid stress and enjoy everything the garden has to offer.
And maybe you are asking – so what are those secrets you discovered there? Here they are:
1. Mystery of the black tulip
In the garden you will find almost all colours of tulips you can imagine. Except of the pure black one. The growers were for centuries searching for the black tulip. However without success. The black colour does not exist in the nature. In spite of that growers didn’t give up and by crossing dark and yellow tulip they produced the dark purple one which looks almost like black.
2. Tulips actually come from Turkey!
When the word tulip is mentioned, almost everybody associates it with Netherlands. However, to my surprise, the tulips actually originate from the mountains between Turkey and Russia! Around 1550 Turkey was powerful country ruled by Sultan Suleiman II. And they where his gardens from where the tulip flowers come from. How did they than get to the Netherlands? Sultan gave some bulbs to Austrian Ambassador from whom the Dutch Carolus Clusius received them. He planted bulbs in his birth country Netherlands and thus started this well known tulip tradition.
3. Where does the name tulip come from?
The name tulip comes from the Persian word “tulipan” meaning “turban”. And why turban? Just look at somebody wearing turban. It seems like he would wear a big tulip bulb on head. Interesting, right?
4. The most valuable tulips were diseased ones
No, the striped and flamed tulips are not the modern phenomenon. They were existing in the early times as well and were treated as the most desired ones. The truth is that those tulips were infected by virus which caused the special patterns on the flower. But don´t worry, today´s flowers are completely healthy, growers learned how to cultivate them to such a nice pattern.
The end of the day in small town Leiden
Enriched by the new knowledge, having camera full of pictures, mind full of memories and tan on the skin we left Keukenhof and drove to the small town called Leiden. However we only had some one hour left to discover what it has to offer. And it was definitely not enough! Leiden was full of terraces around the calm canals. People outside were enjoying free day and contributed to the overall very positive atmosphere of that town. On the small squares in the centre few festivals with the music and food were organized.
Especially nice view we had from the fortress above the city centre. If somebody tells you one day that Leiden is boring town not worth of visiting, don´t trust him. Leiden is small but very interesting city which would deserve much more than one hour of hour time. Hopefully during our next visit!
The night was coming over the land and we slowly moved to The Hague where the hostel was waiting for us. After such an beautiful day we couldn´t wait for the next morning! But next day is another story and I will share it with you in my next post.