Sunday, May 30, 2010

Keukenhof 2010

Earlier this month, I visited Keukenhof. I was supposed to go with a friend, but at the very last minute, she was hospitalized! So I still had to go, by myself. (Note: She's ok now.)

I arrived at Schiphol Airport at 6 in the morning. The weather didn't look so good. And when I asked the locals, they said it has been raining the past 3-4 days. Oh well, just my luck! But I kept hoping and wishing that the sun will be out later.

So as soon as the VVV (Holland Tourist Information) is open (at 7AM), I got myself the combo ticket which includes a return bus ticket and the Keukenhof entrance ticket, and waited for the first bus to arrive at 8AM. Unfortunately, the bus was almost three hours late! Nobody knew what was going on. And everybody was getting more and more annoyed and impatient by the minute. Some (like me) continued to wait. Others searched for other mode of transportation. There were a group of Singaporeans who asked me if I wanted to share a cab with them. But as I have already bought the bus ticket, I didn't want to spend more money and burn the money I have spent on the bus ticket. So I said no. I am so kiasu! Haha!

A father and son duo queued next to me. The son looked like he was about 8 years old. They were also before me at the queue at the VVV and I overheard the father asked the [rather rude] lady at the counter if he would have enough time to return to the airport to catch his flight. Then, when we were at the bus stop waiting, after almost three hours, they finally left dejectedly. The poor things.

So, finally the bus arrived, and when I arrived at Keukenhof, it was still raining! Fortunately, I brought a jacket which was weatherproof.

I was so amazed looking at the flowers. They were so beautiful! There were flowers of every colour you could ever imagine. And the colours were so vibrant and bright! No photography skills could capture the beauty!

There were also upside down flowers!

And some have funny names, such as Hotpants, High Society, Christmas Sweet, China Town, Curly Sue, Eskimo Chief, Miss Elegance, etc.

I have always wanted to see Sakura trees (flowers?). I have a fascination with a lot of things Japanese. So imagine how I felt when I saw them at Keukenhof! I had to ask a passerby to take a photo of me under the Sakura tree. (Note: Please ignore the look of my pants. I had to fold them that high as it was wet everywhere!)

I also saw a windmill. Very nice.

As the theme for Keukenhof 2010 was 'From Russia with Love', there were several Russian 'items' around, such as these Babushka dolls..

So after a long, wet and cold walk (I left at about 4PM), I decided to head back to the airport. My initial plan was to stay at the airport and wait for a few of my colleagues who will be arriving at 6AM. I brought a couple of books, as well as my Nintendo DS, so I thought I could rough it out and survive. But unfortunately, all the comfier chairs were all past the check-in gates. And it was too early for me to check-in (my flight leaving Schiphol to Norway was at 10 the next morning). And as I was very very VERY tired from the long day at the park, I decided to just stay at a nearby hotel. And boy was I glad that I did.

It was an amazing experience to be able to see all the beautiful flowers. Before I end this post, here are some interesting facts about Keukenhof.

  • Largest bulb flower in the world
  • 7 million bulbs planted by hand each year
  • Only open for 8 weeks in Spring each year
  • Keukenhof literally means 'kitchen garden' and was so named because it used to be a castle's herb garden
  • Nearly 1 million people ranging from locals to presidents of foreign countries visit Keukenhof each year
  • Has clocked up more than 44 million visitors in the last 60 years
  • Covers an area of 32 hectares, 4.5 million tulips in 100 varieties, and 15 kilometres of walkway
  • Most photographed place in the world

  • P.S: I want to share a funny story.. In the bus from Keukenhof heading back to Schiphol, I noticed the lady sitting next to me took out a very familiar looking bottle of mineral water. It was a mineral water bottle from back home! So I asked her if she was from Malaysia. And the look on her face was priceless! She was so surprised and asked me how I know. And when I told her, she laughed. Hehe!

    P.P.S: I left Schiphol to Sandefjord, Norway the next morning at 10AM. When I arrived at the airport in Norway, I was so surprised to see that it was snowing! It was snowing in Spring! And as soon as I arrived at the hotel, I checked the temperature. And it was: