Biking along the tulip fields of Holland (or how I lost my camera the day I needed it the most)

8 May

During my long weekend spent in Amsterdam and its surroundings, we decided to rent a bike on a Sunday morning and have a blast among the tulip fields. It was a beautiful sunny day at the beginning of May so I thought it was the perfect way to spend the day. We bought a map with all the bike trails from the turist information centre (I believe it was something like 5-6 euros) and headed towards the train station. In a city like Amsterdam where I think even the dogs would ride a bike if one taught them how to step on the brakes, you can find a ‘rent-a-bike’ shop pretty much everywhere. We picked one near the train station because it allowed us to return the bike an hour later than the others nearby but otherwise I believe  the renting conditions are pretty much similar.

The route we intended to follow was from Haarlem to Lieden, something like 30 km by bike across the Dune and Bulb region, not only to see the tulip fields but also to visit Keukenhof, the stunning tulip garden opened only 2 months a year when the tulips bloom.

We caught the first train to Haarlem and we didn’t have to wait long  since all trains allow you to carry a bike with you for a small extra price. Only once I got on the train I realized I left  my camera somewhere behind (I wasn’t sure where) and that I was left with no technological help whatsoever to register and save the day, and desperation unfolded in its entire beauty.

Haarlem is a beautiful little town with gorgeous architecture, it was a market day and the locals were fussing around buying groceries and yummy pastries but I had eyes only for photo shops. We eventually found one and I ended up buying 5 disposable cameras. I’d never used one before so I had no idea what the results would be but anything was better than nothing! So you have to excuse me for the poor quality of my pics, I promise I’ll make it up to you in the following posts 🙂

So Haarlem: I really liked the town, the laid back atmosphere, the fact that there were fewer tourists around, the water mills, the people.. Dutch people actually received a big thumbs up during our entire holiday! We came across a lot of cool people, most of them were really nice and ready to show us directions or give us a piece of advice, all together they left us with a really good impression.

I’ve been told that regarding asking for directions men are very different from women: men are really good at finding the right direction, in exchange they would never ask for advice; women, on the other hand, are pretty lousyy at orienting themselves but have no problem in asking for directions. I’m not sure this is true, but if it is, I’m the worst combination of the two: I’m kind of bad at orienting myself around but I’d rather get lost than stop somebody and ask for information 🙂

Not that we really needed some, I mean we had our map that we always checked at the crossroads, the bike trail was marked and most of the times we just had to follow the arrows indicating Leiden! It was this one time though, when we stopped in the middle of nowhere to look at the map that an old man saw us from his garden, came up to us and then came with us for the next 100 metres to be sure that we got the right street at the right corner. And then he went back to his gardening business. We were really impressed!

And we loved their houses, all really neat with lots of flowers and bushes and big windows! If you want to see the tulip fields though and not only Keukenhof, I’ll suggest you arrive there by mid-April : we went just at the end of April, we still found some beautiful tulip fields on our way but we saw also plenty of them already cut off or withered. The atmosphere was all very bucolic, with mills and people paddling along channels and bees and butterflies..!

And then we made a detour to Keukenhof and we got swept off our feet: the variety of shape and colour of the tulips was overwhelming! Other flowers, jasmine or rhododendron, all in blossom,  an old music box, women in traditional costumes, haystacks as benches with a pitchfork as a chair back, a lake with curious swans, all was really nicely organised with a particular eye for details!

We forgot about us there so by the time we got back on our bikes and headed towards Leiden it was already late and we didn’t have the time to see the town. The nicest bit of our return was that I found my camera: I left it at the ‘rent-a-bike’ shop!

I was left with some lousy pictures but a bunch of lovely memories, you with my post and the official site of Keukenhof to tickle your travel dreams till you go and see it with your own eyes 😉

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4 Responses to “Biking along the tulip fields of Holland (or how I lost my camera the day I needed it the most)”

  1. Alina May 9, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    Nu ma satur sa ma uit la poze, sunt de vis lalelele!

    • dusty laces May 9, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

      ah, mersi! mie in schimb imi pare rau ca n-am reusit sa le fotografiez cu un aparat mai de Doamne-ajuta..Lalelele erau intr-adevar foarte frumoase!

  2. ancutza May 10, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    wonderful, Amsterdam it’s in my top ten destination, maybe the next year!

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