Sunday, 15 May 2011

Keukenhof and Leiden

We wanted to end up in Leiden on Saturday to catch a basketball game; more on this in a separate post. Knowing that the "great fields of coloured tulip" season ends here by the end of May, we thought a perfect thing to do today was to go to the Keukenhof Gardens, rent some bikes to ride through the bulb fields, head to Leiden for dinner, then catch the game.

Turns out that spring came early to Holland this year, unlike last year. So we are sadly about 3 weeks past when all the flowers were out. On the bus over to Keukenhof, we saw exactly one small plot of flowers in colourful bloom. In fact, this is what all the fields looked like:
Great fields of tulips without flowers
Still, the Keukenhof (what Victoria's Butchart Gardens is to the Dutch for my Canadian-centric blog readers) was being maintained with a lot of flowers. Now I'm not a flower guy, but it was still kinda pretty. I have added the names of the flowers under each photo for this post (Karen helped me identify them).
Yellow and red ones

Yellow frilly ones

Pink-ish and white ones

Pink-ish and white ones close up

Purple and white ones
Red ones with yellow not tulips in the background

Yellow and white ones
Tulips really do have names. Here's an example (sadly, dead, but you would kind of expect that).
There's a "Toronto" too, but we didn't see it
In the midst of all these flowers, the garden has "stuff", like a windmill that was open for inspection and hosted by a really nice guy who had been operating windmills for longer than I have been alive.
The windmill, circa 1859, behind pink and white ones

Perspectives on a windmill

Reconnecting the sail
They also have art in the fields of tulips, some of it good, some less so.
Hands Up, behind pink, orange and white ones
Down on their quota of tulips, they were backfilling with other flowers, including daffodils, begonias and rhododendrons.
White and purple not-tulips
Tall white fuzzy things

Tall purple fuzzy things
A different tall purple fuzzy thing, in close up
There was an entire building devoted to orchids, where between us we took about 100 pictures that no one will ever see.
A complicated one
And another building dedicated to lilies.
Dutch Lily Days

Wall o' Lilies

Several different kinds
As a result of flowerless fields, after the gardens, we went to Leiden, and as usual, headed straight to the market. This is an excellent market, with sections for fish shops, Lebanese food, bicycle parts, sewing and fabric, clothes, cheese, fruits and vegetables, meats... well, pretty much everything.
More veggies than you can shake a stick at

Part of the Lebanese section

Nuts anyone?

Lots of fish

Mackerel is in season 
Leiden's a pretty little university town where the old section of town was surrounded by a moat that is now a canal. It's classically a defensive moat with battle emplacements that are quite cool. They may not seem that imposing, but these two bits of the river in the photo below...
Party on the pier
...are in fact the confluence of two arms of the Rhine, and were the home of the only bridge between the sea and Utrecht about 100 km upstream in medivel-ish times.

There's a cool big church here, too, that was de-consecrated and isn't used for much any more. In fact, while we were here, they were using it to set up the start of the Leiden marathon.

The empty insides
I will cover the basketball game and more joys of train travel in a separate post.

No comments: