Tulip Mania and Hyacinth Hype in Holland

There are several things which must be experienced or seen in a lifetime. That’s the thing with the uncountable fields of early bloomers in Holland.

Therefore we are visiting the Dutch North Sea coast close to the city of Den Helder for an extended weekend – just to have a look on the colourful sea of flowers.

When we arrive at our accommodation by night at 10 pm everything is dark, so we can not even guess what is expecting us the next day: A holiday resort framed in by bright and colourful fields of hyacinths, daffodils and tulips. Okay, the tulips are just appearing with their green leafage up to that time. It’s middle of April, 10°C and therefore probably a little bit too cold for them to show up in their flowering dresses.

But visiting Holland during this time of year without seeing any tulips, would be like a walk in a forest without seeing any trees. For this reason we take a 100 km tour to a place called Lisse to visit the must-see attraction of Holland for this time of year: the famous Keukenhof.

The Keukenhof is a huge park area where since the year 1950 cultivators of flower bulbs present their creations. The show opens it’s doors for approximately 8 weeks starting by end of March and ending in middle of May. Additionally to very decorative outside garden areas there are huge greenhouses where different kind of tulips are presented.

Uncountable masses of tourists are pushing through the show. We are visiting the park on a Friday – hardly conceivable how high frequented the show must be on a Saturday or Sunday. The variety of tulips regarding form, colour and size is impressive.

We are strolling through the park. There is so much more to discover than tulips. There is a windmill. From the top we have a fantastic view around onto the fields of flower bulbs – and indeed we are discovering a red glowing field of tulips. By the way: after the flowering period the blossom is going to be cut, so that the energy of the plant goes into the bulb. The bulbs are being harvested in summer and prepared for sale.

Information about Keukenhof: Entry fee: 18,00 EUR per person / parking: 6,00 EUR. It’s recommended to visit the park on a day from Monday to Thursday, as the park is less frequented on these day.

On the way back we make a stop at Zaanse Schans. It’s a small village reminding a little bit on an open-air museum. In this village old Dutch handicrafts are being lived and presented to the public.

Beside old houses, workshops and stores, there are several old mills on the area which can be visited. The place is very idyllic but also a little bit overcrowded.

Information about Zaanse Schans: Visit of the village is free. Parking: 10 EUR / Entry fee for the mills 4 EUR per person/mill. Recommendable is the cheese dairy where you can try and buy different sorts of cheese.

On the next morning we go to the beach of Julianadorp. Passing by the beautiful fields with hyacinths. The intensive smell flows into our noses. We pass the dunes and come to an endless sandy beach. There is a strong breeze. At the beach there is a long row of small holiday houses. Probably a good opportunity to try living in a tiny house directly at the beach. What a cool experience this must be. We are visiting a hip beach bar and drink a coffee to get warm again.

Afterwards we we are visiting the small city of Alkmaar, which is 50 km in the North from Amsterdam between Northern Sea and Ijsselmeer. Alkmaar has a very nice old town with lots of small alleys and shops, which invites for strolling around. We enjoy the typical Dutch canal flair while eating delicious waffles.

Alkmaar is famous for it’s big cheese market which is being hold once a week on the big market place of the city where also the cheese museum is being located. We have missed the cheese market, however there were a lot of other market stalls located in the whole city which offered cheese, fish, flowers and a lot of other utensils. I followed the smell to a stall where fresh baked Stroopwafels (syrup waffles) were offered. A typical Dutch speciality. I try a waffle. Mmmh, very sweet, but delicious. I buy a pack.

On the next morning we go to the city of Den Helder. First we are visiting Fort Kijkduin, a fortress built by Napoleon. The view from the fortress is nice, however the area itself is a little bit shabby. The museum of the fortress is open. We enter a rotating door and get into the foyer of the museum. There is water dropping from the ceiling directly into a show case. There is nobody in. The scenery reminds me on a typical zombie film.

We leave the building and go to the marina museum of Den Helder. There it’s possible to visit a submarine. Unfortunately the museum is still closed at our arrival time. We are strolling around the museum harbour Willemsoord and have a look into an old dry dock where an old sailing ship of the Dutch Marine – called Bonaire – is laying for restoration works.

Three interesting days in Holland are over now and we are starting our trip home with the good feeling to have finally seen the colourful fields of flowers.

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