Following on from our Red Light District Visit…
Once back to the safety of normal Amsterdam streets, where groups of drunken men aren’t leering and being excessively loud with bravado, Mum and I discovered a whole different peepshow of our own – gawking unashamedly into people’s houses. It’s not our fault, really – the Dutch don’t draw their curtains! What better way to satisfy my interior design cravings than to stare into the most beautifully lit and decorated homes at night.
It’s all so very European: Think clean lines of Ikea meet quirky Dutch design. What’s more, every house exhibits extravagant floral arrangements, because let me tell you, flowers are cheap as chips. The source is a mere 20 kilometres away, acre upon acre of tulip fields and greenhouses.
Which brings me to my highlight of our trip: A daytrip to Keukenhof, a tulip park just outside Amsterdam. This stunningly designed flower park spans 32 hectares and is open for only 2 months of the year during spring. With hard work and meticulous planning, the creators put forth the most impressive displays of floral colour and design, as well as hosting orchid shows, showcasting gardening ideas and presenting other forms of entertainment. Mum and I love all forms of gardens and we make it a point to visit open gardens and botanical institutions wherever we travel. Hence my question to said Dutch friend: “Did you visit Keukenhof every year as a kid, you lucky duck?” To which he answered with a look of utter dismay on his face: “Are you kidding me? What child wants to visit a flower park?” My bubble was thoroughly burst.
Outside Keukenhof, they also offer bicycles for rent. I jumped at the idea, because it has been a dream of mine to cycle through Dutch tulip fields since a very young age. I can’t remember which book put it squarely in my mind, but there you have it, not all children are created equally. That day I soared. On my sturdy Dutch bicycle, along canals, through villages, past tulip fields I cruised. This was hands down one of the best days of my life, because it was even better than I imagined it to be. The clean yet fragrant air, the companionship, because Dutch people cycle in droves and they greet each other wherever they cycle, so you are forever being engaged in your experience. But above all, navigating a 15km round trip with only a crudely drawn A4 map, all on my own.