Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ode to Tulips

OK, I know I should save the best of Amsterdam for last, but this post just excites me too much and I cannot wait to share pictures with you!

Amsterdam was number one on my list of cities I needed to explore once moving to London last July BUT I wanted us to wait to see the infamous city until springtime. Around late March to early May, you have a 3 week window to experience the world renowned tulips bloom in Holland. It's all really hard to plan out and dependent on so many factors (rainfall, temperature) so I knew this could be like the Northen Lights in Iceland- something I really wanted to see, but really difficult to control. In December, I booked our trip for Easter weekend in hopes that maybe we could see the legendary site with our own two eyes. Now I have a check off my bucket list and some colorful cell phone pics to share! 

Although you can go to the Keukenhof Gardens by public transport, I read too many horror stories about waiting for the bus for hours and standing in long queues to get tickets, so I booked with a tour company. It was a little pricey but worth not being stressed out or having to wait. 

The bus ride took a little over an hour, and you know you're nearly there when you start to see the rows upon rows of brightly colored tulips. 

I literally gasped when we drove past this patch of tulips. So pretty!!! And to think- all of this hard work, just for a few weeks of beauty. 

The garden itself was very crowded, but not so crowded that we couldn't soak in all of the spectacular colors and smells. 

 Y'all, these were not your run of the mill, grocery store tulips. They were brilliantly massive- some as tall as my hips! And the flower was larger than my face. And don't even get my started on all of the colors.... innocent lavendar, blushing pink, hot coral, sunshiney yellow, deep blood red....
 ...speckled orange, striped pink, ombre peach. And no, I don't know why I'm cradling our water bottle in half these pictures. Don't question my awkwardness-I was too happy to care! 

 And the petals. Fringed, pointed, curved. Two petalled, six petalled, or twelve. Some as large as a wine glass, some as dainty as a thimble. Some closed tight, others opened wide like the palm of a hand about to give a high five.
 There were some azaleas, daffodils, and hyacinths thrown into the mix, but they paled in the tulip's spotlight. 

Even Daniel found this to be incredibly impressive, which made me happy, because frolicking in the flowers is usually not his "thing". We brought along a bottle of wine, some Dutch cheese and these Dutch caramel waffle cookies and had ourself a lil picnic amongst the tulips. 

Why do I love tulips so much? I feel like it's cliché and can be characterized with the similar stereotypes of women loving chocolate, Sex and the City, and long walks on the beach. But there's something so cute, so sweet, so delicate and dainty about this flower. Maybe it's because tulips, with their pointy triangle tops and curved bottoms, were one the first images I was able to draw. Maybe it's because they are one of the signs that spring is here. I can't really explain why they make me so happy, but they do. Yes, along with chocolate and other girly things. 

It just makes me in awe of the gardeners. I appreciate the months and months of hard work that goes into such a short timeline of beauty, before the flowers are all beheaded and fed to the animals (true story!). I think there's something so extraordinarily beautiful in this- every year, going back to the same spot, replanting the bulbs, knowing that it won't last- it's futile. The beauty will die. But the gardeners still do it. Year after year. The handful of glorious, vibrant, spectacular weeks of yellows, oranges, reds, and pinks make it all worth it. 

This is the Delft tulip vase I bought while at the gardens, now showcasing some plain old tulips from my neighborhood flower stand...not the same as the gigantic, possible steroid induced tulips from Keukenhof, but they still make me smile and think of our Easter in the gardens. 

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