The sign read, "Do not walk on the grass," but that did not seem to stop anyone. There were people everywhere; walking, lounging, smelling…yes, smelling. The aromas were so intense; you really did want to curl up on the grass, stare up at the blue skies and massive trees, close your eyes and take a deep, relaxing breath. No, we weren't at some strange 1960's event; however, we were in Holland…at the Keukenhof Gardens and it was SPECTACULAR! Par for the course, we forgot the good camera but that did not stop us from snapping pics with our IPhones.
Each year in the small village of Lisse outside of Amsterdam, the Keukenhof Gardens open for only a few short weeks. Naturally, given its short life span, it can get really crowded. With that in mind, we decided that a late afternoon visit might enable us to see the beauty of the park in a less claustrophobic environment.
We feasted on slices of foie gras and a delicious bacon and arugula quiche for our Easter Brunch and then began our trek shortly after noon. Several hours later, we arrived. While I had hoped that our late afternoon arrival would enable us to miss the crowds, I was wrong. It was crowded but I suspect that it was actually worse earlier in the day. Once we walked through the gates, I realized that it would not be that bad. The park was big enough to handle all of us.
It really is amazing. The displays of tulips, daffadils and hyacinths are scattered amongst the grounds, meandering through the mature trees and paths. The smell of blooming flowers was intoxicating. However, what was equally if not more impressive was the drive to the gardens. Surrounding the village are fields upon fields of tulips. We had to stop the car and wander deep into the flower beds---gazing at a plot of yellow tulips before moving on to the red tulips or the purple ones. Surprisingly, these are not cut for fresh flowers but are grown for Holland's massive flower bulb industry.
We spent at least thirty minutes on our own private photo shoot. "Mom, take my picture in the pink field." "Mom, I going to hold the tulip and you take my picture while I am looking at it." "Mom." "Mom." You get the picture, right?
Leaving the tulips, we headed to our hotel in Leiden. What a treat it was! Sitting along one of the canals is the picturesque Hotel Leiden. Historic, yet modern, it was a delightful surprise and we want to go back again and stay. We had a wonderful dinner at a quaint and inexpensive Italian restaurant and enjoyed laughing and sampling each other dishes. Dear Husband decided that my pizza was the best he had ever had, while Dear Daughter demolished her lasagna. The next morning, it was a short drive to the old town and we spent several hours walking around the cobbleston streets of the historic district. It is a delightful city. You get the feeling of Amsterdam without the crowds and expense. The architecture is stunning. The canals lend a certain easy-going vibe with cafes spilling out to the water's edge.
We were home by early afternoon having enjoyed a short, memory-saving adventure.