Keukenhof gardens – part one

I’ll start with the health warning – if you don’t enjoy tulips turn away now. As advised in yesterday’s post – today we visit Keukenhof gardens. When we were planning a spring mini-break we discovered that dogs on leads are welcome in Keukenhof, so that sealed the deal. 
The forecast for today was bright sunshine all day, so what with it being a Sunday we knew it would be busy. The plan was to be there for when they opened at 8am so it was early to bed last night and the alarm set for just after 6am to be ready for the start of breakfast serving at 7am. 
I have to confess it wasn’t the best night sleep. The bed was comfy enough, but in the early hours of the morning there was something of a ‘parting’ of the ways. Our ‘double’ bed is in fact two two separate single beds pushed close together. This is practical and with two single duvets it avoids that nighttime ‘battle’ to keep warm. The trouble is that Zoly tends to sleep on our bed when we’re on holiday, he had positioned himself equidistant between me and Mike at the bottom of the bed – that is effectively on top of the fault line. 

At around 2am I was woken by whimpering and scrabbling sounds. As I reached down to touch Zoly, I was not met by the dog but rather a gap. It must have seemed that there’d been some sort of earthquake for Zoly and the two beds had parted – poor Zoly had sunk into the hole between mine and Mike’s bed and was suspended on a sort of hammock formed by the blanket that he was wrapped in and he couldn’t get out. I rescued him and set him free. 

Understandably he was wary of going anywhere near the ‘canyon’ after that, so he positioned himself firmly on my part of the bed. Mike was still fast asleep – he didn’t rouse once during this entire dog rescue incident. The remainder of my night was a choice of sleeping with my legs apart (one each side of Zoly) with them suspended over the side of the bed or curled up in foetual position. None of these were very comfortable, so a restless night ensued.
We did get to the gardens at 8.30am, not bad given that when on holiday Mike runs on GST (Gay Standard Time – that is usually between 30min to an hour behind). Even at this early hour on a Sunday there were already around ten coaches parked up and groups of visitors waiting to get in. We purchased our tickets and headed in.

Tulips in every shade and shape – simply stunning

Even though we sort of knew what we were going to see, it still takes the breath away. Massive swathes of tulips and other spring flowers flow in all directions. Pink, red, yellow, white, purple… the colours go on. It’s not just tulips though: grape hyacinth, daffodils, iris and heavily scented hyacinths are all there too. The bulbs are planted in big blocks of colour and set out in lots of different patterns. The beds weave among the trees with the canopy providing beautiful dappled light. Streams, cascades and fountains and beautifully manicured grass and sculptures are dotted around too. The whole effect is quite delightful.

Can you believe we actually queued up for this shot!

Paul Smith stripes in tulip

Obligatory dog and husband amongst tulip shot

Our first two hours were not too crowded, so we visited most of the garden – including the more formal beds of tulip combinations, the woodland garden, the Willem-Alexander pavilion (like the grand pavilion at the Chelsea Flower Show, except they have to keep it looking stunning for 3 months not 3 days!) and the windmill with its views across the stunning multi-coloured striped tulip bulb fields adjoining the garden. 

Tulip mania traffic gridlock

Keukenhof gardens – part oneBy 11.30 it was getting very busy indeed, so we decided it was time to leave. Zoly had been amazing walking round, but we didn’t want to risk a repeat of the Harwich terminal woofing at strangers incident so we headed out. Before we left to take Zoly across the road for a run in Keukenhof bosch (forest) we got ‘stamped’ so we can return again later this afternoon, when hopefully the coach-loads of tourists have headed away. It was definitely the best decision, as we walked the short distance to the forest it was apparent that the draw of a visit to Keukenhof in the sunshine had resulted in gridlock on all the approaching roads. Of course those on foot and bikes were all moving ok – which just goes to prove: bulbs are better by bike!

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