Monday, April 07, 2008

Road Trip to Keukenhof - Complete With Sunshine

I know I sometimes describe Zeeland as a dreary place, but it does get an uncanny amount of rainfall (and I thought my home town of Orlando took the cake with an excess of 100 centimeters per year). On the other hand, there is very seldom a day where the sun doesn't make an appearance at some point, since high winds ensure that no single weather system stay put for long. And, since it's surrounded by the sea, it's usually warmer than the rest of The Netherlands, which is definitely nice.

This temperature difference was evident yesterday, when we travelled 2 hours inland to the city of Lisse. Lisse is famous for its tulips, namely in the form of its world-famous Keunkenhof Gardens.

I visited the Gardens a few weeks back with my sister, but since the tulips weren't yet at their peak, I thought it might be fun to return with Tobi.

A word to the wise - if you have a child, don't forget your stroller... and if your husband is packing the car, ensure that he has not forgotten the stroller. As much a resemblance as Keukenhof might have to Disney World (with special parking attendants, exorbitantly priced food and gifts, and marching bands), there is one thing you won't find for rent: namely, strollers.

Fortunately for us, Lukas required very little carrying, although after a couple hours running through the gardens, he fell asleep in record time once we were back in the car.

Each visit to Keukenhof is as unique as the flowers you see there. The first time, it was warmer and the park was less than half full, meaning we weren't battling with a zillion other tourists at the favorite photo spots. This visit, although it was colder, the sun did make an appearance, but since there were more flowers in bloom, the gardens were overrun with people from every country imaginable.

My two favorite features of the gardens are the sculptures and the bean bag lounging area, where, in spite of the crowds, we were able to bask in the sun for a bit. The flowers are of course spectacular, but, in that sense, Keukenhof reminds me of the meticulously planned Botanical Gardens found in many corners of the world. Having said this, make no mistake, Keukenof is right up there with some of my favorite floricultural spots on the planet, be it the Botanical Gardens in Singapore, Brisbane, or Cape Town.

Garden gurus of Keukenhof, and the world, thank you for making this planet such a beautiful place!

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