We departed from Amsterdam in the opposite order in which we arrived: walked to the tram station, rode to the parking garage, ransomed the car, drove back to the hotel on Leidseplain, loaded the luggage, queued up the GPS, and off we went.
It was a crisp, clear Saturday at the end of April, a perfect day for visiting Keukenhof, the center of the Dutch tulip trade… And apparently, thousands of other people thought the same thing. Kekuenhof is a huge garden set amidst the working fields in which tulips and other bulb flowers are grown. The place was packed with both travelers and locals, and we heard dozens of different languages. The juxtaposed splashes of colors made it hard to stop swiveling the camera at every available bloom, but it was also difficult to keep extraneous limbs of other tourists out my photos! The plantings are elegantly designed… And there are so many of them! Tulips of more shades and shapes than I’d imagined, hyacinths from white to fuscia to nearly black violet, daffodils that looked like cartoon flowers. There is a vintage windmill on the property, and the intrepid were gleefully climbing up its base. The only disappointment was that because of the late-running cold weather, many of the fields immediately surrounding the grounds were late in maturing, so there were no iconic shots of tulip rows receding toward the horizon.
On our way out, the traffic monitors directed us on the opposite direction that Jill The GPS suggested. We were following the convoy of cars that were probably all headed in the direction of the A road, when Jill told us to turn right. It seemed like a pretty route, so even though everyone else continued straight, we followed her guidance. We realized shortly that the sign in Dutch that we couldn’t understand probably said “bicycles and hikers only on weekends”, but by then there was nowhere to turn around…. And we were driving along a canal in between flower fields in full magnificent bloom! We might was well have been on bicycles at the slow rate we traveled: creep a hundred yards, leap out of the car, shoot, jump back in the car, repeat. We arrived at the main road without anyone shaking their fist or even giving us a stern look, and I attributed that down to the locals’ tolerance and the effect of the first nice weekend of the year.