Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Keukenhof Gardens

Holland is a beautiful country- not only are the Dutch known for their wooden shoes, excellent cheese and windmills, but they are famous for their flowers. Being the curious sort that we are, we needed to find out for ourselves what the big deal was about over some tulips….
Situated near Lisse, Netherlands is one of the largest flower parks in the world- Keukenhof Park. Tulips of every shape and size make their d├ębut here, and I can see why. In one of the largest and most beautifully manicured gardens I have ever been in, there is a feast for the senses. Not only are there tulips around every bend, but all sorts of daffodils and hyacinths are there to please the eyes as well as the nose. If there’s a beautiful flowering tree or shrub that also smells nice, it’s there too. Thousands of varieties of flowers are planted on the grounds; with thousands more in the many ‘greenhouse’ park buildings.
Being a gardener myself, I am sometimes critical of others gardens. I was awed at this one- maybe it was because we lucked out and the crowds were minimalized, or maybe I had a slight case of spring fever and this trip quenched it, but what ever the reason, I was totally impressed. We did visit a bit prematurely- arriving at the end of March when not all of the flowers have made their way out of the soil makes for a less colorful park, but no less inspiring.
The best time to visit the park is mid-April, however the park is open from mid March though the end of April. There’s a terrific website if you’re interested in seeing more of the park and gardens: http://www.keukenhof.com/
Enjoying such lovely day away from home warranted us a night at a hotel- and for this night we chose to stay in Den Haag which was a short 30 minute drive away. Known as the city of peace and justice, you may have heard of it hosting famous war crime trials. The city its self is located on the Dutch seashore and is home to Queen Beatirx of the Netherlands. The next morning we were able to walk around a bit, see The Peace Palace, and experience why we’d like to come back and lounge on the beach one sunny afternoon. Den Haag is an interesting city (third largest in NL) and it’s worth stopping in and taking a look around.
Finally, we’re on our way home, and we see a sign for the town of Gouda… who amongst you can resist the call of cheese? Not a one of us, so a slight detour was executed and lunch was to be had where some of the most delicious cheese in the world is made. Not all the luck was with us though… being Sunday and also being we are in a part of the world where days off are considered not to be messed with, there was no cheese to be bought… unless you wanted it on your sandwich. So we settled. Cheese on our meal it was to be, and tasty drinks all around. We were disappointed we weren’t able to bring home cheese from Gouda, but we were entertained by the tourists and locals enjoying their Sunday out. Here’s a little more about Gouda: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gouda

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