There are many signs that herald the arrival of summer. Besides the weather, people coming out of winter hibernation in droves, the profusion of flowers in bloom, the colorful dresses with an edge of playfulness and so much more. But here in the Princeton area nothing screams the arrival of summer louder than the local farmers’ market that opens up in May and winds down on the last Saturday before Thanksgiving (November). In our family, it has become a ritual to start our Saturday mornings with a visit to the market. If there is a place where the smells and sights produce a state of gastronomic nirvana, this ranks high up there. To learn more about our local farmers market, click here.
As a kid growing up in India, my first exposure to exotic locales was through Bollywood movies. It is in the darkened halls of movie theaters that the fun of Disneyland, the scenic beauty of the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland and of course the romance of Keukenhof Gardens in Amsterdam all came to life.
I don’t know if it was the lovely couple romancing on the screen among the tulips or the jaw dropping beauty of the acres of flowers that made me want to get there some day. Unfortunately, my first two trips to Amsterdam did not coincide with the blooming season. On my third visit, we were finally able to experience this slice of Dutch life.
We took the train from our hotel near Central to Schiphol airport from where we boarded the special buses that would take us to Keukenhof. Connexxion bus company’s all-in Combi-ticket enabled us to take the bus and visit the gardens for a single fee.
As we entered the largest bulb flower park in the world, we had no idea that there was a whole world of tulips and beyond. The first thing to catch our attention was a huge musical instrument that was playing some beautiful tunes. We joined the crowds and spent a chunk of time right in that spot. As we started walking through the gardens, we saw a multitude of trees, flowers, streams and fountains. The park houses over 2,500 trees in 87 varieties. Soon we came upon a little petting area with several animals and the next 30 minutes were spent watching the animals and of course the kids playing.
The park was full of surprises. We were greeted by a huge exhibit made of coke cans that looked like a playful piece of modern art. We clicked a few pictures and went to sit by a fountain just people watching and laughing.
Finally we came upon the piece du resistance. The acres and acres of tulips in every color imaginable. The layout of the bulbs and kaleidoscope of colors made it appear like a painting that had come to life. Yellows, oranges, reds, blues, the colors were endless. And the very long carpet that these blooms created took our breath away. We were grateful for a picture perfect day to take in this sight. There were many a visitor and local who had a much better idea than us, to rent a bike and experience the tulips up close. We failed on that one.
Instead, we sat on several bales of straw and people and flower watched some more. We ended our day at a play area in the park, swinging on tire swings bringing our day to a perfect close.
The Keukenhof Gardens will reopen next year on March 21 and stay open till May 2013. To learn more and plan your visit, click here: