Tulip Mania in The Netherlands

A strange thing was happening with my calendar in April… I appeared to have a free weekend – right in the middle of tulip season! The thought of this was so exciting, that I had one of my silly ideas brewing in my mind. It went something like this:
“Holland isn’t far”
“It’s totally drive-able”
“Going through the Eurotunnel at night is usually quite cheap”
“Oh look, I can get a 24hour return tickets for £70”
“Weather looks pretty nice”
“This is a pretty daft idea, I won’t get any sleep for nearly 2 days!”

Even the guy at border control in Dover thought I had a few screws loose when he asked me where I was going and how long I’m staying for. His face was hilarious.

Anyway, so I set off late on Friday night, and drove as far as Lisse in the Netherlands. I arrived a few hours before sunrise, so had a little snooze in the car next to a huge field of flowers. This could not have been more perfect, it turned out, because the sun actually rose directly behind this field (which turned out to be hyacinths, rather than tulips, but hey). What a start to the day! It was pretty frosty outside and the flower heads were heavy and drooping. It did not take long for the sun to warm and wake everything up though.

After a short photo session at these fields, it was time to drive the rest of the journey to Keukenhof, a famous botanical garden which is only open during tulip season! It’s a very popular destination and I was expecting long queues and lots of tourist buses. So the only thing to do was to turn up early. Half an hour before opening time, to be precise.
I had pre-booked my ticket and parking, which made it easier to get in and parked up amongst the first people to be allowed on site.

The first couple of hours walking around the park was amazing. It was busier than I would have liked, but this was nothing compared to the masses that descended upon the park from around 10am onwards. I’d never seen anything like it. It got so busy that someone stepped on me while I was taking the above photo, and it was literally impossible to move at times. Especially if you wanted to go against the stream of people. At that point, I had enough and made a bee-line for the exit.

But what to do now that I was in the Netherlands with a good 12 hours before I had to be back at the tunnel terminal in Calais? Drive around to find more tulip fields, obviously!! Unfortunately I soon got the impression that this year isn’t a good one for growing tulips. All the fields which in my research I found out to be tulip fields were completely empty. I ended up driving quite a long loop actually before I decided to give up and head back to the Lisse area for one last round. And it was then when I finally spotted a huge number of fields whilst driving along the highway. Thankfully the next exit came up within seconds, and I had the opportunity to spend a little bit of time photographing a sea of tulips before heading back home.

This was definitely a fun 24-hour adventure! But I do admit, I needed most of Sunday to recover from the lack of sleep and long drive.