Friday, May 9, 2014

The Keukenhof Tulip Festival

I began staying at the Citizen M Hotel at Schiphol in 2012. While walking back and forth between there and the airport I would see the signs for the Keukenhof Tulip Festival, but always I was too early or too late or had not allowed time to stay in the Amsterdam area. When I made a decision to come to Poland for the May school program I began to explore how to get to the tulip festival. My first efforts made me think I had to go into Amsterdam and find a tour agency to get there. Then one day this past cold winter I downloaded an Europe guide book to my Kindle and when reading that discovered the website for the Keukenhof Gardens. There I learned I could order a combi ticket that included the admission to the Gardens and for a bus right from Schiphol Airport. So that piece of paper -- the ticket I printed out about six weeks ago has been on my desk awaiting its journey to Europe.

When arriving yesterday I began to wonder about how to find the bus. The directions said right by Starbucks. I happened to see one of the buses leaving -- driving on the highway, so I knew what I was looking for. Then later I saw one of them parked at the pick-up place. How to know the schedule? Oh, perhaps read the sign.

So this morning after breakfast

I was ready to go. While eating breakfast I saw the gray cloudy sky and could tell the wind was very strong -- not the ideal day for this adventure, but the only day I had. Then it occurred to me that here the grass was green, the dandelions are in bloom, and the trees have leaves. With the very cold winter we had in Minnesota, none of those things had really happened there yet.

Well, truly with jet lag I was awake and ready to go at 2 AM, but that was a bit early. It is a few minutes after 8:00 when I went to the bus stop and there was a huge line.

Once on the bus I found this sign:

I wondered if on a tour bus in the United States I would find a sign announcing Wi-Fi on the bus such as this.

The bus trip took about 20 minutes and true to the publicity we disembarked right at the entrance. It took about one minute to walk to the gate and have the bar code read on my ticket for admission.

And wow!  Here are some of the vistas.

 Below are some close-ups of the some of my favorites

 I thought the one above looked more like a rose than a tulip, and the one below looks to me like a peony.

 And the tulips we have in the states just seem so plain. I looked these striped ones. But then later in another pavilion I learned that stripe tulips were created by a virus, carried onto the tulips by aphids. These days striped tulips are virus free.
Not everything is tulips. There are other spring flowers.

Here is a bed of hyacinths -- oh! what a wonderful fragrance.

Eventually I wandered into a pavilion and got a coffee and asked the attendant where I was -- oh, the Oranje Nassau Pavilion.

This pavilion featured a chrysanthemum display.

And hanging from the ceiling

sculptures made out of bicycles.

I wandered along through an arch.

 I started to find some different things.

First black chickens:

And three white ducks and the fluffiest white chicken I have ever seen.

 In a souvenir shop I found tulip candy.

Frankly, I suffered a bit of Euro sticker shock when I looked at the prices of some of thing things in the shops.

For example I found a handbag shaped like a tulip.

The price? 182.5 Euros!

On a more serious note I saw this statue of Carolus Clusius. Clusius was given tulip bulbs by the Ottoman Sulimen and brought them to the Netherlands in 1593. In the Juliana Pavilion I learned the Turkish word for tulip is tulipan, a word that is shared for a turban that a man wears. Ah, that's why the Polish word for tulip is tulipan. If any reader can tell me if tulipan exists in other languages, please comment and share what you know.

Walking in the garden often mean crossing a canal over a small bridge.

 A bit of walking took me to Willem-Alexander Pavilion. This pavilion was having a perennial show. Lilies are a big feature here.

This yellow lily took my eye. It is about the size of a dinner plate or perhaps even a bit larger.

This white lily is about the size of soup spoon. These and about 16 others were part of an exhibit that asked visitors to vote on which were the three favorites in the exhibit.

From this pavilion I set out to find my way to the Beatrix Pavilion.

This route took me by several pieces of art.

The piece above is called Message in a Bottle and is the work of Walter Maas.
 Here is Zaim van Lugh -- the same in both English and Dutch on the explanatory sign. It is the work of Andre Boone.

By this time I was getting hungry, still having my biorhythm living on a different time zone. I went back to Oranje Nassau. I had a gouda cheese sandwich and a portion of those very good French fries one finds in this country.

Then I decided to slowly take myself back to the hotel. But first I found the Julianna Pavilion.

This pavilion had information about the history of tulips in the Netherlands. I have heard about the tulip mania before, but this poster really helped me understand what happened.

 This poster shows that the price paid for a tulip bulb in 1637 is equivalent today to $90,000 or 67,000 Euros. The same amount of money today would buy 300,000 tulip bulbs.

On my way to the exit I found a street organ.

The trip back to the hotel was easy. I waited less than 5 minutes for the bus and then we got back again in about 20 minutes, and the drop off place from the bus was even closer to my hotel than had been the pick-up point. I took a short nap and then started to work on this blog entry. I had a great time at the tulip festival. I'm so glad I got there this time. Now off to Poland tomorrow.

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