Recently, I joined two girlfriends on a quick weekend getaway to our neighboring country: The Netherlands. Now I have a super soft spot for Holland. It was the first international country immigration stamp in my very first passport. My flight to Amsterdam from Cape Town was my very first long-haul flight. And of course: Tulips.
So when a friend asked if I wanted to join her and another friend for a weekend getaway, to see the Tulips and explore the western part of Holland, I didn't need too much convincing.
We booked a private room in a hostel in The Hague, and researched what we could do in the time we had without wasting too much time on traveling. One of us would be driving (she was our designated driver too since since she is pregnant). And we knew that whatever we did: a visit to Keukenhof was priority.
When you think Holland, you think Tulips (or orange, depending on your personality). And when I think of Tulips, I think "Keukenhof". Keukenhof is, in one word...ha! Who am I kidding? One word can not possibly describe the experience of visiting. And still to this day "Amazing", "Sensational", "Beautiful", "Unbelievable" does not come close for me.
A bit of a background:
Keukenhof (Kitchen Garden), is one of the largest flower gardens in the world. It is also only open for 2 months of the year for visitors to see the beautiful blooms. On the brochure it states that 7 million flower bulbs are planted each year on the 79 acres of land. That is a lot of bulbs, if you ask me. I planted 8 bulbs on my balcony this year and didn't manage to kill any of them!
This place is huge. We were there for over 4 hours and STILL didn't get to do the entire garden. And these flowers are some of the most beautiful pieces of 'artwork' that I have ever seen. Now, I am NOT a flower person. I like getting a bunch of tulips now and again. But I don't go looking for gorgeous flowers. This time, however I simply could not stop gushing over the flowers on display. From tulips to daffodils and hyacinth to roses. And every color you can think a flower can be. I mean, you just have to see it to believe it. Not even the 500 pictures we took between ourselves (am I exaggerating, Sara?) can quite showcase what we saw with our eyes.
And to be honest, I think Keukenhof deserves its own Post.
So let's move on...
After spending hours at the most beautiful place I have ever seen, we hopped back into the car and made our way from Lisse to The Hague. As with all cities, parking is a nightmare. But the lovely people at the hostel gave us a brilliant tip: P&R (Park and Ride). We parked the car in a garage, bought a day trip ticket for the public transportation, grabbed a tram into the city and hopped back off. We walked the 3 minutes to the hostel and freshened up.
The hostel was perfect for exactly what we needed: bed; shower; storage; a few tram stops away from everything. We had dinner at a Cuban Restaurant and it was such a lovely evening. But even though we wanted to explore the night life, we kind of all had sore feet. We headed back to our accommodation and rested up for the night.
The next day we had breakfast - hostel-style - totally made me feel young again 🙂 We checked out and stored our luggage in the hostel store room.
Then we trammed it to Holland's largest outdoor market (Haagse Markt). And so of course, I went wild. I had not planned on this being a shopping trip, but it certainly turned into one. I mean, this place is huge and they have everything. From shoe strings to fresh fish; toiletries to fresh mint by the bunch. You name it, they have it. After realising that the day was still young, I needed to stop buying stuff and we headed back to the hostel to store our (my) shopping bags.
Next was a tram ride and walk to a fabric store that we wanted to check out (all three of us own a sewing machine and sew things). We then headed into Old Town, and window shopped for a bit, before needing some sustenance. Of course, when in Holland, one must have Poffertjes - a small fluffy pancake traditionally served with powdered sugar and butter. We of course had to have ours with Nutella. You will find it goes down very well with a hot cup of Chocomel!
We made our way back to the hostel, picked up our luggage and trammed it to the car. The day was far from over and we wanted to make the most of our time (two of us were away from our kiddies). So we drove to Scheveningen (which even for me is a difficult word to pronounce). Here we walked along the beach; put our tootsies in the water (ok, I put my boots in the water) and waited for the sun to peak out from behind the clouds. And when it did, we had the most amazing sunset.
We decided to have one last drink before we head back home. And relax while waiting for the setting sun to complete its journey. When it did though, it got super cold. And even my Irish Coffee wasn't warming me up. We made our way back to the car and made the trek back home.
It was a really lovely, no stress trip. Short, but we managed to see almost everything we wanted to see. I love Holland. That is no secret. Just last week, we returned from a family vacation in North Holland and soon I will be heading to Amsterdam for another girls weekend. The people are friendly and open. And I often find life a little more laid back than here in Germany.
I am looking forward to the next trip I make with these two lovely ladies. But one of us is pregnant now and we will have to wait a little longer until we can all head out again and leave the kids with their dads.
Well, till next time, Lovelies. Take Care!