I grew up watching innumerable Bollywood movies – The thing about Bollywood movies from the 90’s is that they would definitely have a song sequence, and most of these song sequences were shot in really exotic locations all around the world. One of the most exotic locations in these movies, were the vibrant, colorful tulip striped fields in Amsterdam. The first time I saw them on screen, it almost seemed too beautiful to be true. Those visuals found an everlasting place in my mind. I never planned around when or how I would visit this place, but somewhere within, the wish was always there.
Coming back to present day (mid April 2018), I was holidaying in Paris. Scrolling through tickets to another nearby place, I suddenly noticed that the Keukenhof Tulip Gardens in Amsterdam where open at that time. The tulips are very seasonal and remain in full bloom only for a month from March to April end. I could not believe how lucky I was to not have planned my holiday around it, but for once in my life I was in the right place at the right time 😉
How to get to Amsterdam from Paris:
Without further delay I booked my tickets to Amsterdam from Paris via Flix Bus (I was lucky to get a last moment ticket). Flix bus in Paris is pretty hard to miss, the green colored buses can be seen all across Paris running from one place to another. It is definitely the cheapest way to travel to Amsterdam, although not the fastest, costing somewhere around 19 Euros; . I have to say my experience with Flix Bus though (especially the one from Paris to Amsterdam) was pretty horrible, in short the air conditioning in the bus wasn’t working through out the journey and the staff in the bus was not at all helpful — will write in details about it in a later post. The bus company sure can use a better management and navigation system and more accessible customer care no.s. The bus ride was overnight from Paris (Bercy Seine) and took approx 7 hrs to reach Amsterdam Sloterdijk bus stop.
Getting to Keukenhof:
I planned on visiting Keukenhof the very morning I reached Amsterdam. After dropping of my bags in my hotel, Hoilday Inn, Sloterdjik, I headed back to the Sloterdjik Train Station. Best thing in Amsterdam is that there are several kiosks with staff from Amsterdam tourism ready to help. After taking some cue from the staff I decided that the best way to travel to Keukenhof is via a direct bus from Amsterdam Central Train Station. So I took the train from Sloterdjik to Amsterdam Central. There were ample signboards and smiling tourism staff there who helped guide me to just outside the train Station from where there are frequent direct buses to Keukenhof. The system is pretty smooth and quick. We didn’t even have to wait really, tickets can he bought on the spot for the bus to-fro journey as well as entry to the park, combo tickets cost around 29.50 Euro. The bus ride is a pleasant 45 mins to an hour depending on traffic around the Garden, it is a great way to experience the green, windmill lined country side of Amsterdam.
At the Keukenhof Tulip Garden:
These are rare occasions when I have had my jaws drop in awe. As we approached Keukenhof, suddenly they appeared in thousands, tulips of all colors carefully lined in strips, it looked like a rainbow at first glance. I remember everyone in the bus gasp, sigh and go ‘Wow’ all at once.
I have to mention though that the entry and gardens were super crowded, especially since it was a Saturday — If possible it is best to visit on weekdays to give the crowd a miss. After navigating through a sea of crowd at the enrty gate, I finally got to the first set of tulips in red and yellow. I was so in awe that I could not stop clicking pictures, just to realize this was just the beginning. Each and every set of tulips were arranged uniquely and in combination of all colors and types. Some colors looked so unreal, I had to touch them to feel them.
It is best to take help from the map, and figure out the places you want to visit in the park, since the park is too huge and no amount of time is enough to entirely walk around the park. I started moving towards the right from the entry gate, the first section of the garden is more about single colored tulip arrangements. Further beyond, there is a high rise from where the expanse of tulips fields can be seen. Walking further are tulips arrangements with combination of other flowers, each equally unique and jaw dropping beautiful. As I walked further I could identify a familiar place I had seen almost on every postcard of Keukenhof, the very adorable old dutch style windmills along side a clog and souvenir store nearby.
There is also a cafe round the corner overlooking the tulip fields, if time permits I think this place is deserving to be accompanied by a glass of wine overlooking breathtaking views of the rainbow colored fields. Another place deserving a visit is the flower show, trust me you there were some shades of color I did not even know existed, pretty exotic I must admit.
The extensive walking and walking is quite exhausting, there is also a snacks bar in the park, so if you are hungry or super tired, take a break, grab a snack and drink and carry on. One thing to note, finish off your washroom related activities at the entry gate (you will find washrooms there), you definitely do not want to get stuck with a bladder about to burst with no where to go.
If you have booked a return bus ticket to Amsterdam from Keukenhof, ensure that you reach the bus stop early enough. The queue for the bus can be pretty long, especially if you want to have a seat to yourself. Else you can also opt to go standing in the bus, it is only and hour ride max. and it would get over before you know, while gazing at the neat countryside.
To sum up the whole experience, all I can say is — This is one place you need to see it to believe it.!
Things to remember:
– Reach early, to make sure you have enough time to walk through the entire park and tulip fields.
– Make sure to empty your bladder before entering the gardens, else you might me running around trying to reach the toilet in time.
– Pack your own little picnic lunch
– And last but not the least, make sure you have enough memory space in your phone or camera, because you will sure need all of it.
Some photos from the trip:
**Unfortunately I could not upload many photos due to large size of the files. Will try to upload more soon once I find a way out.