Monday, 23 April 2018

Colour on Colour

Last time we were in Amsterdam, we arrived in early May and that year, the bulb fields were 2 weeks early. Consequently, although we visited the Keukenhof Gardens, there were no flowers in the fields. This time, we planned to come in mid-April to make sure we got the fields in flower. The moment she heard we were doing that, my daughter eagerly jumped on the chance to come down for the day for a bike ride in the fields.

We left the house at 8:45 AM, early enough to catch the morning stillness.
Our canal
We picked up the bikes we found Saturday, and headed to the station. We bought our bikes day passes (€6 each), struggled through the turnstiles, and stuffed them on the train.
Ours on the left
You can take your bike on the train (weekends and non-rush hours), but my goodness, there's not a lot of space. The Sprinter trains have more space; you could fit 6 bikes in the one space on each of the two end cars. The fancier double decker IC trains fit only 3 bikes per car.

We headed to Haarlem, which is not close to the bulb fields but had other things we wanted to see. When trying to exit through the stations turnstiles, my OV-Chipkaart didn't work (what a surprise). I went to the NS service counter and neither Karen's nor my cards had actually been set up for use on the trains (not sure how we made it though to board in A-Dam). As I mentioned in the last post, the "automated" process to set them up was confusing as quantum theory, and what we did, didn't work. Sigh. I told the lady to make sure we were charged for the AMS-Haarlem run, but she said not to worry.

Out of the station, we went to the town centre and locked up our bikes. We started here to see the floats of the famous Bloemencorso Bollenstreek parade that took place Saturday, which is a celebration in the fields themselves of the flowers being harvested. There were at least 30 floats, and we each had our favourites.
Camels made out of bulbs 
Elephants on a Thai float 
Very well done 
A knight with a lance 
A giant pink pig makes it's debut 
The pig's curly tail
A harp. Note the "strings" 
One of the strings; note the building in refraction 
More strings 
Grand prize winning dragons 
The dragon on the other end with LED eyes
A Movie camera and clapper 
I had trouble facing this float 
There's a strong resemblence between the lady in the middle and the face on the left

Antherium wings
We were very impressed. While it was quiet when we got there, it was quite busy when we cycled away.

Cycling in the country in the Netherlands is much like cycling in Belgium; there are fietsroutes (bike routes) that run from numbered intersection to numbered intersection. Planning a route is as simple playing connect the dots (or at least it is when you can see the small signs directing the way). I was using the Fietsknoop app (highly recommended) to follow a route out of town. We rode for a while before arriving at the fields, some of it through beautiful woods...
Outskirts of Haarlem
...past fields with cattle that looked like an English Sheepdog with horns...
Scottish Highland Cattle, actually
...and past windmills.
How Dutch
I only got lost a few times; the signage is OK but not great. A little over an hour after leaving Haarlem's downtown, we arrived at the first of the fields, and of course, had to stop much as we would do for the rest of the day.
Yellow, but... 
Orange, red & green 
A heron despoils the picture 
Purple, white, pink and green 
Let the colours not mix 
This is monoculture at it's finest. Except when an errant bulb shows up, out of place. They are fun to find and fun to photograph: bulbs that "didn't get the memo".
Red in a sea of yellow 
This one can't decide what colour it is
A few hundred meters down the path was a field people were walking in. So we had to, of course. My daughter noted she was a "frolicker"; she like to frolic in fields of flowers. "Imagine, the daughter of two engineers is a frolicker," she said. 
They're not frolicking 
A lot of pink and white 
The one who didn't get the memo

Standing our from the crowd 
The crowd 
Impossibly red 
Two daffodils fight to survive the tulip onslaught 
Could you find your soulmate in a crowd? 
And so she frolicks
It was not the last time she would frolic.
Pick a colour, any colour
Turns out that visiting the bulbfields on a perfect sunny Sunday is a popular thing to do, whether you're on a bike like us, or in a boat or kayak...
Made me think of my friend Kim; her kayak is living in my garage 
There was a flotilla of kayak horse and buggy...
A flotilla of horse 
A guided tour?
...or on rollerblades.
At least they match
There were bikers going fast and slow, one that was 145 km from home and still had 200 km to ride. It was popular, and moreso the closer you got to the pandemonium that was the Keukenhof Gardens, which was the 21 km mark of our trip. And yet, there were flowers everywhere...
...some of which were... furry.
Them's wierd 
This cultivar probably has a name
There were flowers of most every colour, and fields in most every pattern.
When you have to bend around things 
The variation from white through pink to red 
Shades of purple 
Mixed colours for a change 
Yellow to red to inbetween
There were reflective places, where the canals were peaceful.
An idyllic scene 
My daughter not frolicking 
Considering colour
Our plan was to ride all the way to Leiden, but we had a deadline to get back to A-Dam, and there was ice cream (and a bathroom) calling our name at Voorhout. So we stopped there, not "flowered out" by any means, and picked up a train back to A-Dam via a train change at Haarlem. Getting our bikes onto and off of the trains was entertaining, especially the busy IC train from Haarlem to A-Dam that already had 1 bike in the "this space fits 3 bikes", plus people with luggage going to the city. Whatever; we managed with the kindness of the Dutch.

Riding bikes through the bulbfields was a lot of fun, though if I were to do it again, I would pick a route that avoided the Keukenhof area like the plague. Yes, there are bulb fields there, but they're elsewhere, too, and the bike paths around there are crowded with people of all skill and experience levels.

And I do recommend frolicking, by the way. 

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