Images from Keukenhof — part 2

More images from Keukenhof. If you are unable to make it to Holland in spring, let me bring Holland to you with these pictures…

My flower paradise every spring time - Keukenhof

My flower paradise every spring time – Keukenhof

Tulips island on a sea of white blooms

Tulips island on a sea of white blooms

Light yellow tulips

Light yellow tulips

Tulips and other blooms are planted in amazing patterns

Tulips and other blooms are planted in amazing patterns

Red and whites

Red and whites

Flower mosaic

Flower mosaic

Amazing harmony of blooms and colors

Amazing harmony of blooms and colors

Dainty pink multi-petaled tulip

Dainty pink multi-petaled tulip

Beauty all around which I cannot ignore...

Beauty all around which I cannot ignore…

White tulip

White tulip

Floral quilt

Floral quilt

White tulips among muscaris

White tulips among muscaris

The amazing harmony of colors and how the gardeners can make them bloom in perfect timing always amazes me.

The amazing harmony of colors and how the gardeners can make them bloom in perfect timing always amazes me.

There's no ugly corner in Keukenhof.  No wonder that I cannot stop my fingers clicking.  ;-)

There’s no ugly corner in Keukenhof. No wonder that I cannot stop my fingers clicking. ;-)

Fountains lines by multi-colored tulips

Fountains lines by multi-colored tulips

Daffodils

Daffodils

Red tulips

Red tulips

Pink tulip among the muscaris

Pink tulip among the muscaris

Busy bee

Busy bee

White daffodils

White daffodils

Multi-petaled tulips

Multi-petaled tulips

Multi-petaled tulips

Multi-petaled tulips

White and dark red petaled tulip

White and dark red petaled tulip

Red tulips

Red tulips

Red tulips

Red tulips

Other spring blooms

Other spring blooms

Images from Keukenhof — part 1

Our family in Keukenhof

Our family in Keukenhof

After a bit of absence from this space, I am back with some colorful spring pictures from our trip to Keukenhof last Sunday. Weather was fantastic with lots of sunshine, blue skies and pleasantly warm temperature. Spring has finally arrived after the long wait!

We were there at 11 in the morning but the park was already bursting with visitors from all over the world. Funny enough, it was like being at a UN summit in a park setting.

Perfect time to be at Keukenhof as most of the blooms are already out and at their prettiest. My fingers kept on clicking so this post and the several to follow will be from this one lovely spring outing.

Rows and rows of spring blooms

Rows and rows of spring blooms

Reds and yellows

Reds and yellows

Whites and oranges

Whites and oranges

Reds and peaches

Reds and peaches

Heady hyacinths

Heady hyacinths

Me and my little girl

Me and my little girl

Father and daughter

Father and daughter

Little girl among the daffodils

Little girl among the daffodils

Daffodils

Daffodils

Daffodils

Daffodils

The Mr. and me

The Mr. and me

Father and daughter

Father and daughter

Flowery path

Flowery path

My little girl

My little girl

My little girl

My little girl

Our family

Our family

Dancing diva

Dancing diva

Checking out the pond

Checking out the pond

Magnolias

Magnolias

Hiding behind the tree

Hiding behind the tree

My little girl

My little girl

Happy little girl

Happy little girl

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Multi-petaled pink tulip

Multi-petaled pink tulip

Pink hyacinths

Pink hyacinths

Tulips

Tulips

Peach tulips

Peach tulips

Red Tulip

Red Tulip

Orange tulips

Orange tulips

Tree tops from the ground

Tree tops from the ground

White blooms

White blooms

White tulip

White tulip

Fountain

Fountain

More on the Dutch tulip fields

Our little queen among dandelions with the tulip fields in the distance

I know that my posts lately have been more on the Dutch flower fields but seeing that much beauty makes it impossible to not be carried away and have that overwhelming desire to share them.

On this particular day that we celebrated Queen’s Day (30th April) we were simply super lucky with the weather of warm temperature and blue skies as the days after were again chilly, wet and grey.  That day was a one-off and I am glad that we had these pictures as reminder of that one seemingly rare warm spring day.

Our family

Our family

A field of dandelions

Our family

Cheap date in the flower fields

Hubby and I always love our cheap spring date where we would normally drive around the bulb field areas in the Noordoost Polder, have coffee by the flower fields sold by some enterprising farmer’s children and have lunch of fries and kroket in a snack bar that we would find open in one of the village centers along the flower route. We don’t see the need to go to any fancy restaurant for what can we ask for when already surrounded by so much beauty that we are literally drowning from the sight of millions of tulips in full bloom.

It is kind of funny that this activity that we do every springtime comes as too corny and tacky to a lot of people. Many Dutch would not want to be seen in the flower fields, more so, to have their pictures taken in such a setting. I don’t mind being branded as corny and tacky in my appreciation of this incredible beauty. To me, seeing this amazing wonders of nature every spring is a testament of God’s existence and infinite love for us.

Hubby enjoying his coffee sold by an enterprising farmer's daughter who had a thermo of coffee and biscuits for visitors like us. A cup with a piece of cookie costs a mere Eur 50 cents.

Tulips (part 4)

April is about to draw to a close but this month which used to be in recent years the nicest time in spring has been for the most part wet, cold and grey. I still can’t say “Adieu” to my winter coat with the temperature still too cold and oftentimes unpredictable. Still, spring is inching its way forward but I haven’t really managed to take new pictures.

Here are spring pictures from last year, a continuation of my Tulips series.

Tulips (part 3)

We are still to have that annual visit to Keukenhof and our usual foray to the flower fields. Weather lately has been pretty weird as the disturbance up north sent chills our way these last couple of days.

Still, spring is here and frosty nights and chilly days haven’t dampen our spirits. I share with you more tulips pictures from last year.

Tulips (part 2)

Still more tulip pictures.

Tulips (part 1)

Busy time right now preparing for tomorrow’s Easter egg hunt. The little ones are already so excited. We will have the egg hunt in the sand dunes of Soesterduinen which is just a few kilometers away from our place. It sure will be a lot of fun because there is so much space to run around for the very energetic and hyper kids. Lots of secret places to hide the eggs as well.

Nonetheless, let me share with you these tulip images which I took last year from a showcase of various types of tulips which we chanced upon while driving through the Noordoost Polder.

My little girl’s fourth foray into the flower fields (Spring 2011)

Ask a typical Dutchman if he/she have pictures in the flower fields and you will get that bewildered look. It is also against their “principle” to go to Keukenhof which they say is just meant for tourists.

My husband never really cared about the flower fields nor ever been to Keukenhof before we met. It was like, “Why would I go to Keukenhof or why would I have my pictures taken in the midst of the flower fields?”. Being in the midst of flower fields or standing in front of the windmills are simply the most uncool things to the Dutch, especially the younger generations. They prefer to travel abroad and have their pictures taken in the most exotic locations. Don’t get me wrong there. I was the same, wondering when I was still in the Philippines and my husband (then still the boyfriend) wanted to have our pictures in the middle of rice fields or his pictures on top of the jeepney or among coconut trees.

Human nature I should say… We take for granted those things or places which are familiar and ordinary and we give more importance to those which we do not have or are unusual.

These days, we appreciate what is within reach, what is right before our very eyes. Our daughter provides us with a different perspective in looking at things through her young eyes. She shows appreciation and enthusiasm in everything around her. We hope that she will continue appreciating nature and its beauty and the many simple things in life.

These pictures were taken last year in the area around Zeewolde. We were on our way home after spending a lovely weekend with my parents-in-law in Dronten when we took a different road (a secondary road as opposed to the usual highway that we take) and saw these fields of tulips. It was already late in the afternoon but with the nice weather, we were seduced to have this photo session with our little girl.

Our family

Afternoon sun

Father and daughter playing the statue game

Pink tulips

Papa's girl

Among the red tulips

Me and my little girl

Among the white tulips

Playful pose

I got the odd one out!

Playful pose

Tulip fields

My little girl and me

Our family

Hurrah!

White tulips in the afternoon sun

Can I pick some flowers????

Let's hide from Mama!!!

The afternoon sun

White tulips

The apple did not fall off far from the tree -- A picture of us taken by Francesca

Setting sun

Mama, can you see me????

Our family

My little girl’s third foray into the flower fields (Spring 2010)

Another spring, another foray into the flower fields. Unfortunately, this was one weekend when the weather was not on our side. It has been raining for days so the tulip fields were very muddy. Still, we were not dissuaded to get our feet into the ground and have this photo shoot.

As I am going through my posts this week, it is a funny realization that I had been unintentionally documenting my little girl’s development through the years through these springtime pictures. Before her, I have been going to the flower fields and to Keukenhof almost on a yearly basis but hardly realizing what is different year after year.

Honestly, these forays into the flower fields are our family’s cheapest form of entertainment in spring as getting to these fields does not cost a single cent.

The little girl’s second foray into the flower fields (Spring 2009)

Among red tulips

It used to be that the years went by without us noticing. Spring year after year would seem the same. We hardly noticed the passing of time and the difference in each passing year. All that changed with Francesca as since her birth, she became the benchmark and timescale for everything in our lives.

Certainly all parents will agree with me that children become the focal point of our lives, the beacon of hope on those dreary days, the source of strength when the hurdle seems too much and the source of laughter that cheers us up especially on those times that we can hardly summon a smile.

On this post you will see how much a year means in the life of a child. From the 6-month old baby in the previous post, she was 1.5 years in these pictures. This time, she was running through the flower fields and plucking the odd flowers out.

We spent the Easter weekend with my parents-in-law in Dronten where some of the big tracks of flower fields can be found. There were tulip and hyacinth fields and all were very exciting for our little girl.

Fields of blooms

I got the odd one out!

Among pink hyancinths

Francesca with opa and oma

Francesca and oma

our family

Francesca and opa

Francesca and me

Red tulips

My little girl’s first ever foray in the tulip fields (Spring 2008)

She’s half Dutch and living on Dutch soil so she should connect with everything Dutch. That’s the point I raised to the Mr. when dragging our little girl (she was 6-month old at that time) to the flower fields for this photo shoot 4 springtimes ago. ;-)

What a great spring weekend it was! We were at a nearby family reunion and we could combine a little escape to these flower fields to take some gorgeous pictures.

I will be going down memory lane in the next few posts, showing the springtime metamorphosis of our little girl as we hit the flower fields year after year.

The love for flowers is something that would become natural with her. These days she finds pleasure at picking flowers and have them assembled in a vase at home.

Last year’s Easter eggs hunt

The little ones and their Easter eggs find

Time flies, it’s almost Easter time again! Where did the year go? Memories of last year’s Easter egg hunt are still fresh in my thoughts but it is time for the next egg hunt again. To my daughter, life is moving forward and wanting the years to roll by so quickly while I am hanging on to every bit of her childhood — carefree days under the sun hunting for Easter eggs, blowing dandelion seeds away, climbing trees, going back and forth at the slide, running around with the other kids and many more.

One of my little girl’s favorite time of the year is Easter and the delightful event of Easter egg hunt. It is something that has become a tradition with us having started this on the first Easter when she could walk. At that time, the eggs were hidden in the confines of our small back garden.

Last year, we organized the Easter egg hunt with the involvement of children in our neighborhood. We were blessed with the perfect Easter weather — warm and sunny and the kids really had so much fun searching for the eggs hidden in the grass and other not so obvious places. I baked cupcakes while the other moms brought in the refreshments.

One more week to go and it will be the same frenzied activity again. My daughter can hardly wait…

On to the egg hunt

Searching the grass and weeds for the hidden eggs

Feeling fulfilled with every find

Happy with every sighting of an egg hidden in the grass

Weather couldn't be any better than this for the egg hunt

Maybe there are more eggs here...

Counting the egg finds

"Could we eat first?"

Carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Vanilla and chocolate cupcakes

Eating time after the hard work

More egg search

The parents minus me the photographer

Posing for mom

Childhood friendship

Flowers everywhere

Flowers everywhere

Yet another castle on one fine spring day

Rosendael Castle

There are times in life when our plans take a different turn and yield surprises beyond our expectations. A few weeks ago, we went to the Veluwe intent on exploring Biljoen Castle but that turned out to be off-limits to the public. Instead, we discovered a nature reserve nearby and was pleasantly surprised by the sheer beauty of the landscape and can hardly wait to be back when the season of heather goes full swing.

On the way back home, we took a different route and discovered a very nice hilly hairpin road which is pretty unusual in this very flat country whose great part is even below sea level. That drive led us to discover yet another hidden beauty in the Veluwe forest — the lovely Medieval Rosendael Castle. Being the castle freak that I am, I was right away captivated by the lovely sight in front of me. Too bad that it was already getting late and the little girl after all the playing in the nature reserve fell asleep in the car. I just went by myself to take a few pictures, intent to come back another time. The castle was anyway closed till end-March so I did not feel so bad that I have missed on a lovely visit. All the more reason to return…

I was charmed too by the crocuses in full bloom and the busy bees.

A lion statue at the castle's entrance

Rosendael Castle in the distance

Rosendael Castle

View of the village houses from the castle's park

Rosendael Castle

One of the buildings in the castle's grounds

Rosendael Castle

A thatched house that is pretty common in the area

Yet another thatched house

A white crocus and its visitor

Busy bees

Dainty white crocuses

Purple crocus and its visitor

Saw this horse-drawn carriage just as we were leaving...

Spring creatures (mid-April 2010)

Lady bug

I simply love spring and the best time to be here in the Netherlands is in April when the temperature has sufficiently warmed up to make flowers burst and bloom in profusion and for spring creatures to wake up from their deep slumber and join the bright new world again.

On these days, I can be found wandering around with my camera, lost in the beauty and wonder of the natural world. Here are the images I took almost 2 years ago just in our neighborhood. I’m looking forward to the coming weeks when the trees and shrubs will blossom again and I can take my fill of the beauty around me.

Bathing in pollen

Dragonfly

Bumble bee

Lady bug

Pas de deux

Lady bug

Lady bug

Spring blooms against the blue sky

Fly

One unreachable castle on one fine day

Kasteel Biljoen

Being a big castle freak, I always plan our usual Sunday stroll to be in some castle grounds. We’re lucky to have several castles and palaces nearby but I also want to discover new ones. Two Sundays ago, the weather was so nice that it was a perfect time to go about castle hunting. I checked on the Dutch castles website and saw one which looked pretty in picture and so off we were to the town of Velp to check on Biljoen Castle (Kasteel Biljoen).

Unfortunately, the castle is off-limits to visitors as its previous owner, a baron who died in 2006 has willed that the castle will not be turned into a museum or open to the public. Instead, it will be kept as a private residence by anyone who acquires the castle. Disappointed at first, we found other ways to enjoy the day by going around the castle grounds and at some point, my husband and daughter devised a game of throwing stones to circular targets that they have drawn on the ground. My little girl just loved being out, being able to play with twigs and pretend fishing. I enjoyed savoring the early signs of spring…from the lone crocus coming out of the ground, to the cheerful pigeon up the tree, to the blue sky that reminded me that there will be more days like this.

Life can be fun even when our best laid plans do not work out as we want them to be. Beyond this castle, we discovered a lovely nature reserve area nearby and another castle… Will tell you more in my next posts.

Ducks swimming in the moat

The mound is the ice cellar which in olden times was used to store the ice blocks gathered in winter to chill food in summer

The moat

Spring blooms

Apologies for posting so many spring pictures but I’m just so happy that spring is finally here. I love this season of the year because it just feels like being reborn into a new life that is full of new promises and possibilities. There is beauty all around us too…from blossoming trees to those spring flowers blooming in profusion.

There are so many things to look forward to like those weekend outings to the park, castles or palaces we have around. Warm weather means having barbeques in the garden or picnics in the park or forest nearby. Then there are camping trips that we intend doing more as well this year…

Holland’s spring garden in April 2011

Keukenhof

Categorically saying that Holland (or The Netherlands) is Europe’s spring capital should not raise an eyebrow (I hope). I say this because all roads lead to this small country the moment the daffodils spring from the ground, followed by the hyacinths and lastly by the muse of the spring blooms — the tulips.

One park that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors in the two months that its doors are open to the public is Keukenhof in the town of Lisse. It is considered the most beautiful spring garden in the world with its total area of 32 hectares planted with 7 million bulbs of which 4.5 million are tulips of 100 varieties. I make it a point to not miss a visit every single year.

Keukenhof opens its doors timed around the official start of spring (3rd week of March) but I prefer going a month after as more flowers especially the tulips are by then mostly in bloom. The amazing thing about Keukenhof is how these flowers are organized that they bloom in perfect symphony in the two months of spring. One can’t help but be impressed by the plant knowledge of the gardeners here who painstakingly plant the bulbs in autumn by hand.

Keukenhof chooses a theme each year for its flower exhibit. In 2011, the theme was “Germany, Land of Poets and Philosophers”. A German theme route went from one entrance to the other and the highlight was the flower mosaic of the Brandenburger Gate in Berlin.

We did not get to see the entire park during our visit for there was just too much to see and we also had to find the balance between what is interesting to us and to our little girl. She simply enjoyed running around and smelling the flowers.

Neither did we have time to see the flower exhibits at the various pavilions (the Willem Alexander Pavilion had over 80,000 tulips on display in more than 600 varieties and 120 varieties of daffodils; the Beatrix Pavilion showed orchids, bromeliad and anthuriums; and the Juliana Pavilion had a special theme exhibition of the Dutch-German ties that bind both countries). Anyway,

Useful information:
To flower enthusiasts and shutterbugs, Keukenhof is the place to be. Come early because the park gets very busy around lunch time when busloads of tourists from all over the world find their way here. The park and parking tickets can be bought online which we normally do to avoid queueing for a long time. Other things to do include sailing in a silent boat between the flower bulb fields behind Keukenhof. It is also possible to cycle in between the flower bulb fields in the surroundings of Keukenhof.

Another event worth witnessing is the annual Flower Parade which will take place on 21 April 2012.

Spring blooms and morning dews (April 2010)

There is nothing that I love more on an early spring morning than the lovely sight of spring blooms laden with morning dews. The sight of flowers glistening from those morning dews that seem like countless diamonds is simply breathtaking. I feel like the world has been renewed, refreshed and reinvigorated. I cannot help but look up in the sky and thank the One above for this wonderful day.

Early spring

The 1st of March is already considered here as the start of spring in meteorological terms although the real start of the season as we know will only be 3 more weeks farther. My daughter can hardly wait for the new season to begin as she looks forward to picking flowers and assemble them into lovely bouquets.

I share my little girl’s fascination with this season as I simply love how Holland blossoms after a long hibernation in winter. I love the sight of early morning just when the sun is breaking though the mist as backdrop to the trees and shrubs which explode in blooms just as soon as the temperature warms up sustainably for a couple of days.

With the exception of when there is snow or ice, my camera also goes into winter hibernation mode so when the first signs of spring become visible, I am out of the door in an instant to go around and start clicking to capture the beauty of the season.

These are pictures I took last year and I am looking forward to a repeat of this lovely phase in the season this year.

Lady bug

Dandelion

Snail

Lady bug

Chasing royal footprints at Paleis Soestdijk (Soestdijk Palace)

Paleis Soestdijk

The palace from the other side of the lake

Last Friday at noontime, we waited in bated breath for the news conference by the surgeons of the University Hospital Innsbruck to learn about the condition of Prince Johan Friso, the second of the three sons of Queen Beatrix. A week before the news conference, Prince Friso has been buried in an avalanche while skiing off-piste in Lech together with a childhood friend (the son of the owner of the posh Gasthof Post where the royal family has been staying for about 50 years of skiing in Austria). It was said in the news that he was not wearing the safety vest and that it took about 20 minutes to find and dug him out of the snow. From that time onwards, we did not have any news except that he is in critical but stable condition.

The news conference brought out the most feared prognosis on everyone’s mind. The prince who lay in coma may never regain consciousness again. The brain damage was just so severe due to lack of oxygen from the 20 minutes that he was buried in the snow and the further 50 minutes it took to resuscitate him. The doctors hoped that the mild hypothermia might have prevented that brain damage but that was not the case. A grim news to everyone and extremely much more to his mother, his wife, 2 little daughters and his brothers and their families.

Life is so fragile and happiness can be clipped in an instant. Here is a young and smart guy (he’s got MSc in Aerospace Engineering from TU Delft, who has the world at his feet and in an instant, everything has been transformed in such a nightmarish tragedy. I feel so sorry for his mother who I actually met in person last November at an affair in my former school. She attended the conference where President Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali gave a lecture on the democratization process in his country and in Africa. I was standing close to the queen in the ensuing cocktail reception and much to my surprise, we were sipping the same wine and eating the same snacks. She was not a snob, much to my amazement as she listened patiently and chatted animately with the MA students who were also in attendance.

So much for my sad news, I bring you one lovely place where we normally go for our Sunday walks especially in spring. We happen to live a mere 15-minutes away from this simple royal palace with a lovely garden.

A royal palace that used to be the residence of Princess Juliana and Prince Bernard (parents of the reigning monarch, Queen Beatrix), Soestdijk reverted to state ownership and was transformed into a museum after the death of Prince Bernard a few years ago (Princess Juliana died a few years before him).

This is a very simple palace (we’ve made a tour of its interior in 2009), testament to the simple taste of Princess Juliana in her lifetime. A place full of happy memories as this was the place where she raised her 4 daughters, received foreign heads of states as well as the Dutch people who came in droves to greet her on her birthday on the 30th of April with her husband, daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren. Happy occasions in the family were also celebrated here like the engagement of her daughters.

Late spring is the best time to be here at Soestdijk. On this visit almost 2 springtimes ago (May 2010), the weather was fantastic and the various types of rhododendrons were in full bloom.

Francesca had a great time today running around, doing her imaginary fishing and simply smelling the flowers. I love the sight of the lake lined by those rhododendrons of various colors. After a good walk through the palace grounds, I always enjoy a cup of cappuccino and some piece of cake at the Orangerie.

the lake

The enthusiastic little fisher and her father

Rhododendrons in full bloom

Rhododendrons

Ferns

The bridge

Red birch tree

Father and daughter

The chasing game

The little girl and the big tree

Orange rhododendron

Nature coming back to life

The fountain

One of the few sculptures inside the palace grounds

Trees coming back to life in spring

Father and daughter

Palace grounds

The little girl can be happy with just twigs

Father and daughter

The little girl and the palace

Palace grounds

Rhododendrons

Lilac rhododendrons

The Orangerie

An insect at work

The patient fisher

Yellow rhododendrons

Rhododendrons in full bloom

The little flower picker

Rhododendrons

Rhododendrons

Me and my little girl

Paleis Soestdijk

Disneyland and a side trip to the Chateau de Fonteinbleau

The upside of a trip to Disneyland Paris is that it is possible to combine other activities in the visit which we did. No, it is not a sightseeing of Paris itself because that deserves a separate and dedicated trip but some shopping and a castle visit can be on the itinerary. We took a side trip to Chateau de Fontainebleau which was just a half hour’s drive and then we also went to La Vallee Village, a chic outlet shopping complex just a mere 5-minute drive from Disney park.

Our little princess in Chateau de Fonteinebleau

Our family

Trees in full bloom

The little princess inside the chateau (we just went to the loo)


Being not such big theme park enthusiasts, we were soon bored by Disneyland. The little girl was also intimidated by most of the rides and the park started to become very busy as the day progressed. Long queues to the rides were also very discouraging. Thus, we opted to drive to Fonteinebleau to see the castle which I have read about in Catherine de Medici’s biography by Leonie Frieda. I’m very curious of the Renaissance French chateaus and palaces.

The town of Fonteinebleau was very charming especially in spring when the trees are in bloom and so are the many spring flowers. The weather was pretty pleasant when we arrived in the afternoon though later it became a bit chilly and cloudy.

We went to the chateau but debated whether to take the guided tour or just explore the castle grounds. Guided castle tours were of no interest to a 3-year old girl so we opted to just explore the castle grounds. Our little girl in her princess outfit was just so happy to run around, feeling ever bit the princess of this former royal haunt. We will definitely be back to this place another time and will explore every nook and corner of this castle.

Inner courtyard

She's fond of picking flowers

The horse-drawn carriage

The driver of the horse-drawn carriage has this well-groomed moustache

Inside the carriage while waiting for more passengers

The little princess fell asleep during the carriage ride

The garden looks pretty bare but this must be spectacular in late spring to summer

The chateau was huge and it has a garden which must be spectacular in late spring and summer and a lovely lake. We rode in a horse-drawn carriage that took us around the sprawling estate that also leads to a adjoining forest. My daughter loved the ride (but eventually fell asleep). Later we just went around the castle and viewed it from across the lake. It was a picture-perfect sight!

The chateau from across the lake

Found this sight of the boat with the chateau in the background so enchanting

Disneyland Paris in spring

My husband and I love to travel but before our daughter came, theme parks were off our radar screen. It is amazing how parenthood changes perspective. The places that we avoided then are the places that we seek out now. We’ve gone mainstream!

It was early spring last year when we went to Disneyland for a long weekend. Actually, going there was a last minute decision that crystallized after our little girl hinted of Mickey Mouse and Goofy. We were supposed to head south of The Netherlands for a 2-night stay in a castle close to Maastrict but cancelled that in lieu of Disneyland. We were able to find a good deal for 4d/3n stay in a 4-star hotel inclusive of the 3-day pass to Disneyland and Walt Disney Studio.

Spring blooms

Trees in bloom

The journey to France took a bit over 5 hours including the short rest room break that we took for Francesca mid-way. Spring is already very much on its way as we drove south. From Belgium to France, the sights of trees and shrubs exploding in pink, white and yellow blooms are simply enthralling.

We spent the first day of our French sojourn just relaxing a bit considering that Siefko did all the driving. He actually enjoyed driving through the French motorway (peage) because the speed limit at 130 kilometers is just great for those who love a bit of speed and hate the traffic jams that’s so common to small countries like Holland.

The hotel turned out to be nicely situated in the middle of a sprawling golf course. We simply loved the greens as European hotels are normally cramped and located in busy areas while this one turned out to be quite secluded.
We had a very pleasant stay at the Radisson Blu and will definitely chose it again next time that we go to Disneyland.

Radisson Blu @ Disneyland

Playing at the hotel's sprawling ground

Running around and hiding

Playing hide and seek at the hotel grounds

At the hotel's bar for drinks

The ever enthusiastic little dancer trying some of her moves at the hotel ;-)

Some of the buffet breakfast choices

Some of the buffet breakfast choices on my plate

The little girl at breakfast

In entering Disney, Francesca was immediately impressed by the princess outfits that many girls were wearing. Those dresses became an obsession that we ended up getting a princess gown for her too. That would be the only stuff that she would wear in the coming days.

First glimpse of Disneyland

Disneyland

Carousel ride

Carousel ride

Train ride

Train ride

My castle obsession did not go away altogether. From Disneyland, we also made a side trip to the stately Chateau de Fontainebleau which was a mere half hour’s drive. (This beautiful chateau will be a subject of my next post).

Our little princess at Chateau de Fontainebleau

A visit to Holland’s spring garden in 2010


We’re not even halfway through with winter yet I feel that this season is already going on forever. It is because this is the weirdest winter that I’ve ever had in this country since over a decade — warm, wet and gray. Not a single speck of snow has fallen and there seems to be none in the horizon when I look at the long term weather forecast either.

I’m trying to beat the winter blues by thinking of spring already…though that’s still a good two months away. Spring is the season where I won’t be found complaining. On the contrary, spring is the best time to be in this country. Holland opens the spring season with a bang and like a lady in full bloom, she’s at her prettiest.

One place that I never miss going to is Holland’s world-famous spring garden — Keukenhof. It is a garden that’s one of its kind as it displays the creativity of the best gardeners in the world. A step inside this park and you’ll know what I mean with the way this park is transformed into a spring wonderland.

Every year, the park takes on a theme and oftentimes, royalties and/or heads of states are in attendance to open it for the season. Two years ago, the theme was “From Russia with love” and the park was opened by Crown Princess Maxima and Mrs. Svetlana Medvedeva (wife of the Russian president).

We were lucky with the weather on our visit to the park then. The sun was shining and the sky was blue without a tinge of cloud at all. Our little girl initially enjoyed her foray into the flower garden but later we discovered that she was having chicken pox that’s why she was not her usual bubbly self anymore.

Anyway, here are the pictures I took on that day.
















One warm spring day in our neighborhood

My little girl and the red poppies


Butterfly


Spring is a wonderful time here in Holland. Towards the end of the season when the daffodils and tulips have bidden their curtain calls, it is the turn of the poppies, dandelions and daisies to take center stage.

The little flower picker


I love it in our neighborhood. We have this long stretch of green area which becomes blanketed by red poppies, yellow dandelions and white daisies beginning late spring and way into the summer. My daughter who loves picking flowers just enjoy the amazing spread in front of her.

Yellow dandelion


Father and daughter


My family


I love photography and in spring that passion is ignited to fever pitch. There are just so many subjects to indulge into…from flowers to insects and most of all, my lovely little girl ;-).

Red poppies


A green insect


Dandelion


Pink blooms

More pictures:

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