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Adorable Chick

HIGHLIGHTS OF EUROPE diary : Day 5 - 16th April 2016

Keukenhof is a world renowned botanical garden situated in the town of Lisse, to the south-west of Amsterdam city. History dates back to the 13th Century when this area served as a hunting terrain to the Royals of the Castle of Teylingen. Later the Countess decided that a few fruits & vegetables be grown in a part of this land , to serve the Royal Kitchen. The ground soon turned into a ' Kitchen Garden ' , giving Keukenhof its name. (The word 'Keukenhof' in Dutch, translates to 'Kitchen Garden' ) It continued to remain so till the Baron & Baroness, who occupied the Castle during the 19th Century, showed interest in renovating the area into a Castle garden, after being impressed by an Architect's work on the Vondelpark in Amsterdam. The restructuring that followed, laid the foundation of the garden, that remains till date. The perfectly growing flowers, around the same months each season, prompted the workers in the gardens to showcase this beauty to the world. Today, the park covers 32 hectares approximately. Around 7 million flower bulbs are annually planted here. Primarily consisting of tulips, there are also other varieties like daffodils, lilies & carnations to name a few. With a changing design each season, the Gardens are open to visitors during spring, lasting for about 3 months a year, usually from mid March to Mid May. Recently, the entrance was renovated. It now wears a new look.

A visit to the Tulip farms of Kashmir (read KASHMIR, India) & Tulip festival in Morges (read MONTREUX, Switzerland) earlier, had inspired us to visit the father of them all. The Netherlands was therefore a mandatory part of our itinerary. On that day, we boarded a train from Brussels Nord station at 7:15 am to reach Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam by 9:20 am. The entry tickets to the Keukenhof gardens including the to & fro Shuttle from Schiphol airport, were booked online, in advance. We queued up at the bus station outside the airport. The special "Keukenhof Express"arrived and left after loading itself with a bunch of 35 odd tourists. We were in the next lot. The Bus journey lasted around 40 minutes. Racing through the pristine country side, we got to the entrance of the Gardens by 10:30 am. This entrance has been since renovated & now wears a new look. We produced our tickets at the tourist office. The courteous staff handed over a map of the gardens.

The entire layout is divided into outdoor & indoor pavilions named differently, each containing exhibits & arrangements, different from the other. The Irene pavilion, Juliana, Wilhelmina are the outdoor pavilions, while the Oranje Nassau, Willem Alexander & Beatrix are the indoor ones. Most of the pavilions are named after members of the Royal family. The Oranje Nassau is the named after the current reigning house of the Netherlands. There is also one called the 'Mill', which might have been named after a wind mill that symbolises the country. Together, they are sure to leave you amazed. We walked around the gardens, covering most of pavilions.

Tidy Desk

The Irene Pavilion hosts the "Dandelion" fountain in the centre of its artificial lake. The fountain shoots out water forming a 'Dandelion' & therefore the name. Carpeted in green, with beautifully exhibited tulips & other choicest flowers is the Tulpomania exhibit. The Wilhelmina Pavilion is located directly on a pond. It covers a huge area and is one of the most picturesque pavilions in the garden. The pond has a few fountains raising to varied heights. There were pretty, colourful tulips, planted in unique designs, blanketing the huge piece of land surrounding the. pond. Few varieties of tulip bulbs were bigger than the size of our palms cupped together.

Some impressive varieties were those that underwent cross grafting and bloomed in technicolour. The Oranje Nassau indoor Pavilion was too huge to cover. It hosts variety of roses. We chose to skip it and were happy with a few photographs in its foreground.

Named after the King of Netherlands, the Willem Alexander Pavilion was designed and built by Eden Parks. This stunning green house structure is packed with an array of planted and potted flowers . The entire Keukenhof garden prides itself of showcasing 800 varieties of tulips alone. Almost all varieties could be found in here. The Glass structure, bearing arched glass roofs are internally supported by criss- crossing grey coloured metal poles, running right below most of the arches . The colourful arrangements lie all around them. The super cool Green house did take our breath away. Some pots were nearly half our size. It seemed more crowded in here than the entire garden.

The displays here are said to change every week. The pavilion boasts of hosting the largest Lily shows in the world. There was a small fountain fitted in here too. We were our crazy selves, taking as many pictures as possible. The 'Mill' Pavilion consists of a Wind Mill, installed on a Scaffolding. It was gifted to the Gardens by the Holland America Line. Though it can rotate, it is installed here only for ornamental purpose.