In Spring the famous Keukenhof Gardens in The Netherlands open their gates to millions of visitors. Tourist buses line up, and so do many older folks and retirees. But there is a new wave of visitors to these special gardens.
And who are they?
They are families, couples, school groups, and kids who all come here too.
As we enter, we are given a quiz to do as Explorason goes around the gardens. And there is a prize if he completes it and returns it to the visitor centre at the gate.
We have been on the go just to make it here in time for the season. And we make it on the second to last day. We have driven from Paris to The Netherlands two days ago, and prior to that, all the way from Spain.
For me, this was a dream come true to be here, and a place I have always wanted to visit.
We manage to get a little lost on the way, and so by the time we arrive we are ready for lunch, so we head to one of the cafe’s in the garden. They were all pretty crowded, so that took us a good half an hour to get through, and Explorason wanted different food, so that was another line up at a separate counter, so I sent him off with the money to get his order. Fortunately I could see him in the distance.
We finish lunch (and he is still hungry) and we decide we will eat a bit later. There looks like there might be ore options dotted around the gardens like waffles and ice creams, and we don’t want to wait to order more food – we are here to explore, discover and learn; not just eat).
We headed to the ‘Big Clog’ for some fun near the Windmill, and we appreciate that the one of the staff had told us to go to the side paths to explore.
We climbed the Windmill, and Explorason managed to get pushed out of the way by a man, and had his head banged agains a metal bracket, and then there was my son on the floor crying. The man had no idea he had done it, and it was a genuine accident in a crowd. The male staff member that were in attendance came up three times to see if he could help. Next thing he brought Explorason a special pamphlet which showed all the locations of Windmills in parts of The Netherlands. The crying stopped, and on we went to have some fun.
Behind the Windmill, boat tours can be taken earlier in the season of the flowering tulips fields, but being the end of the season, they are all over now.
We managed to find a smaller set of clogs for a photo, and then spied a boat nearby, and headed that way.
Next we found a children’s play area. Cargo Shipping Containers turned into rooms and cubby houses. Flower pots decorate them in stunning form, filled with tulips.
This was Explorason’s favourite area, and he spent ages here.
He grabbed the camera and took off up to the top of the container, and spent ages zooming in and taking photographs. Photography really is his passion.
We then headed to a cafe area that was also surrounded by herb gardens.
Explorason again loved this area. He was allowed to try parsley straight from the plant and he must have eaten a whole handful. I do remember him and his friend Tim and brother Greg from his school back in Adelaide, eating chives.
We then headed over to a mass of tulip beds. I watched as a lady in a wheelchair went around taking photos. She was having a great time too.
The reflection in the water was just pretty with bluebells and Japanese maple, and other plants adding to the colour.
Next we found a mirrored garden. The mirrors all move and adjust and there are many walls of them. This was more fun for a child.
Next Explorason finds some spinning signs, and people can make their own message, so he does that.
Then it is time for us to pose as great artists.
Explorason really liked this, and lined up three times. He was determined to not have a photo with a shadow in. He gave up in the end.
There was a band planning in the centre, so we went to go that way, but the water garden then distracted us, and he was off for a climb. There was also a swinging bridge after this he loved too.
Then he paraded around with the Dutch flag – until he turned suddenly and hit me in the head!
There was so much more to see.
We then went into the other indoor cafe area, and it was a gardeners delight. Also to be found on this side of the park is marvellous art. We both loved the floral arches of perfumed ‘Stargazer in white and pinks. It was time for some posing photographs.
Explorason then decided he wanted to walk across water. I stayed on the banks.
Coloured glass fish also were on display. There really is so much to see!
But I think the highlight for me was fun we had at the end with some Thai monks. It was great to see them having a good time in the clogs, so we asked if we could join them. I love their peaceful and happy approach.
It really made me see things differently at the end. They were not running around taking “selfies” or group photos. They were immersed in the moment. They did not look through the lens of a camera. They looked through the lens of their eyes. Next time I visit a garden, I am not going to take my camera.
No matter what your faith. Sometimes it is important to immerse ourselves solely in the moment.
Next time, I am going to use my sense – and my senses.
When we left we did return our quiz to the visitor office. Explorason was given some beautiful tulip bulbs.
We left Keukenhof Gardens feeling enriched, and ready to give.
It was lovely to give these tulip bulbs to the lady at the AirBnB we were staying at.
You can also watch a You Tube Explorason made here.
Attraction Name: Keukenhof Gardens (Keukenhof, the name of meaning “kitchen garden”)
Location: Bezoekadres, Stationsweg, 166A 2161 AM Lisse, The Netherlands
Date visited: May, 2015 – Please note the garden is not open all year round.
Child friendly: Yes