Finally, Tulips!

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

A free morning had us up early to explore the town of Arnhem. We had a mission: we needed batteries and I wanted to visit a grocery store to pick up some Dutch cocoa. Armed with a map, we headed out. Unfortunately it was a Monday morning. Shops in the Netherlands have a late start opening on Monday. This gave us plenty of time to peer into windows and wander aimlessly. We did find both items on the shopping list.

The afternoon found us immersed in a World War II battle. Arnhem was part of a military plan called Operation Market Garden. It involved massive air and land troops. Bridges were to be controlled or destroyed. It did not go according to plan.

At the top of an escalator, I had to laugh at the sign for the restrooms. The John Frost bridge in Arnhem and the war cemetery

At the top of an escalator, I had to laugh at the sign for the restrooms.
The John Frost bridge in Arnhem and the war cemetery

We toured a museum with many war artifacts. In the basement you experience the sights and sounds of the battle. This media display gives you the sense of a battle, and it is not something you want to ever experience in real life. After the museum visit, we were taken to the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery. Another very sobering experience, especially when you read the ages of all the men who did not survive this battle. It was a day to step back into history and know that it should never be repeated.

The next two days were filled with color and joy. Why do so many people travel to the Netherlands in the spring? One word: tulips! We had the opportunity to visit a working tulip farm. At the farm we learned that the tulips in the field were for bulb production and those grown in the greenhouse were for fresh cut flowers. Only bulbs grown in sandy soil can be imported to the U.S. This farm is on clay-like soil, therefore no bulbs could be sold to us. They can export to many other countries who don’t have the soil restriction on the bulbs. It was fascinating to learn of all that goes into bulb and flower production.

The bulbs are placed between the nets in the field to make harvesting easier.

The bulbs are placed between the nets in the field to make harvesting easier. The other three pictures show the process of going from bulb to being bundled for fresh flower sales.

Buildings in Hoorn

Buildings in Hoorn

After lunch, we were given a walking tour of Hoorn which ended at a home visit for coffee and treats. At first I wondered if the home visit would be awkward, but the kindness of the host pushed those thoughts away. It was interesting to visit a local home and talk with the owners. About ten of us went to a retired couple’s apartment. We were given a tour of the apartment along with some great snacks. We could ask questions of their life and they were interested in ours too. The apartment wasn’t so different from those in the States. It’s fun to get a peek into other’s lives and realize that we are not so                                                                                                 different.

Finally, it is the last day on the boat, and we are back in Amsterdam ready to tour Keukenhof Gardens. This is the eagerly awaited highlight of the trip. Our timing was perfect and we had the most beautiful day to explore the 70 acres of plants. Tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses, and many other bulbs were in full bloom. The Gardens are only open for about eight weeks in the spring. They report that 70 million bulbs are planted, and I believe it! I wish you could enjoy the scent of the paths that were lined in hyacinths. Here is a tiny glimpse into the beauty of these gardens.

These tulips were in a pavilion. Every single one is a tulip, but they don't look like tulips.

These tulips were in a pavilion. Every single one is a tulip, but they don’t look like tulips.


I took over 100 photos at the gardens, so this is just a glimpse of the beauty.

I took over 100 photos at the gardens, so this is just a glimpse of the beauty.

If you love flowers, this is a place that needs to be on your bucket list. Pictures just don’t do it justice. Go see it!

The river portion of our trip is over, but we still have two more days in the Netherlands. We have signed up for the optional tour in The Hague. Next week, I will conclude this travelogue with sights from The Hague.




27 thoughts on “Finally, Tulips!

  1. Joyce says:

    Your photos were divine snaps of a very beautiful world. So pleased to view it through your eye. I love going along as you give us such interesting details ……all of them. I would apply for a job as Rick Steves assistant.

  2. What beauty! I never knew there were so many different kinds of tulips. I always enjoy your photos so thank you for sharing them. They are just what I needed to see on this gloomy and cold May morning.


  3. What a wonderful trip! I love the flowers – makes my little to to Pella Iowa seem funny – I love the fields of tulips! Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

  4. All of your flower pictures are gorgeous!! The colors are just amazing! My parents were just in Holland Michigan and shared some great tulip pictures, but not quite like these!!

  5. Wow! I can’t imagine what these gardens look like in real time. The photograph are beautiful and as you say, pictures just don’t do justice. Maybe after this summer I will expand my traveling.

  6. Elsie, thank you for this. Our tulips are all done for another year. You made me feel as if we turned back the clock to get another chance at early spring! Definitely on my bucket list! Enjoy your time!!!

  7. Lynn says:

    Amazing pictures, Elsie! Many years ago friends brought us back tulip bulbs from Amsterdam and they bloomed beautifully every year. Unfortunately, I had to leave them when we moved but we did enjoy them for many years! Sounds like you had an awesome trip.

  8. Judy C. says:

    Thanks for taking us along on your journey. The tulips are beautiful this time of the year. Getting to visit with a native family must have been awesome. Did you have a translator or did they speak English? Looking forward to The Hague – I visited there many years ago. Such history throughout.

  9. When I was a child and was asked where I’d like to visit one day, I always said Holland, to see the tulips! I must have read a book that encouraged that response because there is no other reason for it. Now I know how smart I was as a kid, thanks to your travelogue with extraordinary photos. I am certainly going to consider putting this on my bucket list thanks to your encouragement. How wonderful those gardens are! They almost put Monet’s garden to shame! (Not really.)

  10. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful flowers with all of us! I love tulips and I’m planning on planting some in the fall. I can’t wait for Spring of next year! Thanks for reminding of my love for this flower. 🙂

  11. Love tagging along on your travel adventures! The bathroom sign is adorable! Had the same question as Erin about the soil. When we went to tulip fields in Skagit County, the ground was spongy. Did you experience that?

  12. rosecappelli says:

    What gorgeous pictures! I think you should consider a second career as a travel journalist! Your descriptions are so vivid.

  13. Wow, I can’t wait to OD on my visit to tulips in Amsterdam! But how do you remember all those details? Do you take notes on our tours? LOVE THE COLORS!!!!!

  14. What an amazing post! I learned so much and you’ve sold me on the trip. Those rivers of flowers and the history. Thank you for your keen words and perceptive eye.

  15. Your post left me with so many questions. Why does the US only allow bulbs grown in Sandy soil? I also want to know more about the nets used for harvesting. This segment was fascinating to read! Ando of course, the pictures of the flowers were stunning!

  16. Such beautiful pictures!!! In 1945, the Netherlands sent 100,000 tulip bulbs as a thank you gift to Canada, where Princess Juliana and her daughters took refuge from the Nazi occupation. Now Ottawa has a tulip festival every year in May.

  17. I would never have imagined so many different varieties of tulips. Visiting someone’s apartment must have been an unique and interesting experience. The toilet sign is a riot.

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