May 10, 2013 28 Comments
More images from Keukenhof. If you are unable to make it to Holland in spring, let me bring Holland to you with these pictures…
and loving it
May 8, 2013 70 Comments
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.
March 29, 2013 68 Comments
Spring is always a much awaited and celebrated season in Holland. In this very flat country, the Dutch ingenuity of creating flower wonderlands in spring has always attracted millions of visitors from all over the world.
As soon as March starts, I’m already in extreme anticipation of the new season with plans to hit the flower fields and visit to Keukenhof topping the agenda. This year, however, that usual enthusiasm is tempered by the current reality of freezing temperature which if forecasts are to be relied upon, is very discouraging as it is expected to persist till most of the month of April.
What happened to spring? Why the big snub this year? Will it still ever come or are we just going to progress to summer and skip spring all together? I hope not….
We had an infinitesimal glimpse of spring three weeks ago for two days with the mercury tipping at 15 degrees Celsius at the warmest and enough to awaken the croci from their winter slumber. My little girl and I went out as she wanted to pick a few blooms and that was all that spring has been so far from our end.
June 8, 2012 66 Comments
I take a bit of a break from my Tuscany series and bring back a bit of Dutch flavor to my post.
Two weekends ago, we had this long weekend due to the observance of Pentecost. The Dutch may not be that religious but there are a few Church holidays where an extra day of holiday is observed the following day such as Christmas (Second Christmas Day), Easter (Second Easter Day) and Pentecost (Second Pentecost Day).
The Pentecost weekend had the best weather we ever saw this year with summery temperature that hit beyond 30 degrees Celsius. After the wet, grey and chilly spring, we were just so glad to finally be able to get rid of our coats and wear light clothing and to be able to enjoy sunshine to our hearts’ content. We opted to go camping and put to test the new tent which we were pretty curious to check out. Our old tent suffered irreparable from the mistral last year when we camped in the South of France.
We camped in Heidepark, Lemelerveld which was about an hour’s drive from our place. No special reason to choosing this camping place except that it was a good distance away from home and that there was also a pool which the little girl was so excited about.
I love combining such an adventure with castle hunting and in this country, it is not impossible to find a castle that is within easy reach. The Nijenhuis Castle proved to be a good choice because it had a wonderful sculpture garden and amazing collection of contemporary Dutch art as well. The sculpture garden was a big hit with the little girl who found it a wonderful place to explore and simply perfect for hide-and-seek.
May 5, 2012 121 Comments
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.
May 1, 2012 95 Comments
“Never let an opportunity pass by without giving it due consideration.” Weather-wise, this is my standing motto these days because in the whole month of April, we’ve hardly seen the sun and the temperature has been for the most part, chilly.
In yesterday’s Queen’s Day celebration, the weather did an unusual turn-around. Less than 24 hours before, I was still in my winter coat and then it was off to temperature soaring to as high as 28 degrees Celsius during the day. The party mode was on fever-pitch for the Dutch.
Not wanting to waste such a lovely day, I managed to persuade the Mr. to also do a side trip to the flower fields in nearby Flevo polder where we saw the tulips already in full bloom when driving through last weekend. We normally go to the Noordoost polder for our annual foray into the flower fields and our original plan to do that is still next weekend but seeing the blue skies, I just can’t wait for almost a week for that. Besides, there is no guarantee about a nice weather either and who knows, most tulips would already be gone by then when the farmer cuts the flowers to enable the bulbs to grow further. These fields are just a short drive of 20 minutes from our place so I see no reason why we can’t spare some time on this day.
Under sweltering heat at the height of the day, we were at the tulips fields in the polder. My little girl changed outfit to something close to the Dutch royal color and reigned over the fields in her faux jewelry ensemble which were hard won from throwing balls to a stack of tin cans from a distance in the fancy fair we went to the other weekend.
Year after year, I remain amazed by this staggering vista of tulips in various colors and varieties. I try not to give this sight a miss and why not, it is all for free, gratis et amore.
April 27, 2012 149 Comments
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.
April 25, 2012 40 Comments
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.
April 21, 2012 92 Comments
We first laid eyes on each other around sunset over 15 years ago on the shores of El Nido in the Philippines. Call us incurable romantics but sunset still weaves its amazing magic to us each time.
Being parents to an overly active 4-year old, we are constantly busy and in a rush but we found ourselves enjoying some quiet moments together last month when our little girl was fetched by the grandparents for the weekend. Finally, a bit of time for ourselves and those sleep-outs that we badly needed after many short nights.
On this seemingly warm early spring day, we enjoyed a quiet walk along the dike not so far from our place. On this dike is also a steam mill (Stoomgemaal Hertog Reijnout) which was built in 1882 and drains the water from the polder.
I love it there to just watch the many birds that converge on the flood plains in the polder and the tranquil view of the setting sun in the distance. On this particular day, the birds were mostly sea gulls but there were times when I’ve seen an incredible number of geese. Oh, they’re still in flight this time of the year from Africa where they stay till the cold season is over here in Europe.
April 15, 2012 69 Comments
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.
April 13, 2012 92 Comments
My blog stood silent in the last couple of days as the frenzied activities during the Easter holidays left me with hardly any time to sit in front of the PC.
We sure had a great time doing this year’s Easter egg hunt though the temperature was not as warm as it was the year before. Thanks to the suggestion of our neighbor, we did the egg hunt in the sand dunes of Soesterduinen, a lovely nature reserve area which is pretty close to our place. The kids had a great time being let loose in a seemingly endless sand box. There were also trees that were just perfect for climbing and before long, all of them were up in the tree.
This place is one perfect paradise for kids and one cannot help but be charmed by everything it has on offer. To us parents, we could enjoy moments of lively conversation without worrying about our kids who are safe in all the games that they can think about in this place.
We will surely be back again when the weather warms up and all of us have a free Sunday to spare. The kids can hardly wait…
April 7, 2012 94 Comments
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.
April 5, 2012 118 Comments
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.
April 3, 2012 122 Comments
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.
April 2, 2012 51 Comments
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.
April 1, 2012 160 Comments
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.
March 29, 2012 178 Comments
My husband and I try our best to raise our little girl with awareness and respect for the natural world. On weekends, we can be found taking strolls in the forest or some park.
Three Sundays ago, we went for an afternoon visit to the city’s animal farm for kids which is actually run by volunteers. It is a very simple farm with goats, sheeps, peacocks, rabbits, chicken, calf, horses, etc. The nice thing is that children can come up close and pet these animals. The other time that we were at this farm was 3 years ago, also in early spring. At that time, Francesca enjoyed picking up the goat’s poop balls. She knew better this time and just had a great time chasing the small goats and trying to lift them up. At some point, she managed to have one of them to stay by her. They forged a lovely and friendly bond.
March 26, 2012 99 Comments
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.
March 24, 2012 131 Comments
This post is a continuation of an earlier post on “One unreachable castle on fine fine day”. I wrote about how Biljoen Castle was off-limits to visitors but that we found a wonderful alternative in the lovely nature reserve and another castle within the area.
A short distance from Biljoen Castle is Posbank, a nature reserve area in the vicinity of the Veluwe. Considering that most of Holland is flat, this place is pretty special with its hilly landscape and the highest point at 90 meters above sea level is already mountainous by Dutch standard.
The hills are covered by heather which are brown and dry for now but must be spectacular in summer when they are in full bloom.
The place was perfect for our little girl whose imagination was boundless as to what games to play in such an environment.
March 22, 2012 177 Comments
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.
March 20, 2012 110 Comments
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.
March 16, 2012 181 Comments
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…
March 13, 2012 86 Comments
Beyond the bewitching spring blooms, we were surprised to stumble upon the little animal farm inside Keukenhof to entertain the kids. There were turkeys, pigs, sheeps, lambs, a calf and some rabbits. Though a bit hesitant at first, Francesca enjoyed petting the lambs and the little calf.
Here are more pictures from Keukenhof. There was just so much beauty that I can’t resist taking so many pictures.
March 10, 2012 185 Comments
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,
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.