Natherlands Isn't Just A Country But A Way Of Living
Day VI : Tulips of KEUKENHOF
Due to my bad health, We took a 9:30 AM train instead of the already booked 7:30 AM train to Amsterdam. I thought: "What difference a couple of hours would have made?" But unfortunately, our train journey prematurely ended at Rotterdam because of some maintenance work between Rotterdam to Amsterdam. All the trains between these two stations were either cancelled or rerouted via different routes to Amsterdam. These European train stations werenтАЩt like the Indian train stations. Unlike Indian train stations, in Europe, we found a minimum of 30 platforms at every central junction. People too, weren't friendly. I guess not knowing the local language was one of the main reasons for it ЁЯШЙ. Also, we hardly heard any announcements. Because of this, it took a while for us to figure out, the only train we could take to reach Amsterdam was the Sprinter. In Indian Railways terms, Sprinters are the local trains. These hourly scheduled Sprinters ran on different routes than the fast trains that ran between Rotterdam to Amsterdam. As we were carrying a lot of luggage, we missed the 12:10 PM one by mere 2 minutes and we had to take the 1:00 PM one. So instead of reaching Amsterdam Centraal by 12:30 PM, we reached there at 2:00 PM.
We thought of visiting both the Zaanch village and Keukenhof but due to this blunder, we had to drop Zaanch Village from our itinerary. There weren't direct trains from Amsterdam Centraal to Keukenhof. Though many Buses were running from Amsterdam Schiphol ( their Airport ) to Keukenhof. We took the next available train from Amsterdam Centraal to Amsterdam Schiphol. Not sure why I always wanted to do everything on my own instead of taking somebody's help. Instead of asking locals, I put the location of the Bus station on Google map and started walking towards it and we reached a place which was kind of middle of Nowhere. A Generous guy stopped by and asked us where we wanted to go and then pointed us to the route of the Bus station. But By now all of us became tired and impatient. So I booked an UBER. It showed Keukenhof was just 30 minutes. After so many blunders, we were still happy that we would get an ample amount of time at the Keukenhof Tulip Garden. By the way, the Keukenhof Garden was world famous for its Tulips. Tulips blossomed in March and April to be precise, between 23rd March to 23rd April. The date on which we visited it was 7th April which was why it was overcrowded. The UBER took 90 minutes to reach there instead of 30. The sad part was the waiting time charge which came to around 30$ ЁЯШТ
Upon reaching, we searched for a clock room. We came to know there were 2 types of Clock Rooms.
The One, The self-served locker. Easy to use. The only problem with it was its size. The lockers were very small that we couldn't able to put any of our bags. We could able to put some of our begs there but not all. Hence, I asked one of the staff members about the cloakroom facility. She didn't just show us the way but came to the Cloakroom with us. Anyways, this was the other option to drop any number of begs. The Usual Public Cloakroom. You could drop begs of any size there. The best part of both of the above options was, We didn't need to pay a single pany ЁЯШТ. It's a big thing in Europe, especially, in the Netherlands where nothing was free and everything was costly. We dropped our luggage in the Clockroom, collected the token and headed towards the entrance of the Keukenhof Garden. By the time we entered, it was 4:00 PM and we were yet to have our lunch. As we were starving, the first thing we did upon entering was to look for a restaurant and do lunch.
After filling up our stomachs, it was time to fill our Iphones with beautiful Tulips. We hardly walked 100 Meters and There they were Red Tulips! "Woooow! yakin nahi ho raha hai ki, ye wahi tulips hai, jisko maine barso se me apni notebooks ke coverpage ya postcards par dekhe the!" I had to pinch myself to realize it wasnтАЩt a dream but a reality.
The secret about the beauty of the Tulips was, they looked at their best in their early days when they wouldn't blossom completely, unlike the other flowers which looked at their best when they would blossom completely. I was mesmerised by these beautiful tulips, particularly the red ones. For a moment, I became clueless about what should I do first, should I just watch them or should I take pictures and videos of these beautiful phenomena or should I click photos of mine watching this incredible thing ЁЯШЬ. Compared to my imagination, Keukenhof's garden turned out to be huge and incredible! We walked from one end of the garden to another end. In between we witnessed Tulips of different sizes, colours and shapes. Apart from Tulips, we found another type of flower, which I hadn't seen in India. They too, looked beautiful. We had also noticed, they had kept large shoes at all 4 corners of the gardens. These were one of the largest shoes I had worn in my life. Just look at them ЁЯШЙ
At the centre of the Garden, there was a huge lake which was surrounded by Tall trees and colourful tulips. It was one of the most fascinating sights of the day. Being close to my mom and knowing how much she loved seeing new things, I video-called her, and show her this magnificent view. You know, That call continued for a few hours, During which I gave her the virtual tour of the entire Keukenhof ЁЯШТ. They have also built a floating bridge in the middle of the lake. It was made up of round-shaped wooden stands and placed at equidistance from each other. It was one of the fun cum adventure activities of Keukenhof. At first, It looked easy, but the more I went inside the more difficult it became. An adventure junkie like me would have to complete the trail. And I know, if I wouldn't complete it or not at all gave it a shot then It would haunt me forever. I would always feel what if I would have taken the trails and so on. To save myself from all those troubles, I took the trail and completed it as well ЁЯШЙ
All the trails of the Keukenhof Garden were beautiful. On top of that, I had my BFF cum wife with me to take them. I couldn't have asked for more!
At a distance, we spotted a Dome. We thought it might be one of those exhibition centres one could find at every touristy destination. I was so sure that I wouldn't be liking it. but as we had time, we went inside. Oh my god! If Keukenhof was the movie, this Dome would be the ultimate climax of it! The place was overloaded with a variety of tulips. In today's AI world, one could say, AI could form all kinds of colours or flowers artificially. But I bet, even AI wouldn't create some of the colours which we saw there. It was an Unimaginable experience! Inside the dome, we must have seen more than 1000 types of Tulips and all of them were unique in terms of sizes, shapes and colours. By the way, remember the virtual tour I was giving to my mom, It was still running ЁЯШТ. She was more excited than us. She kept asking me to adjust my camera angle so that she could get a good look at all the tulips ЁЯШЬ. I always thought I wouldn't be a traveller without being a rider and a photographer. Hence, when I visited such a beautiful place, naturally, a photographer in me would be taking thousands of pictures and that was what I did in Keukenhof Garden.
While moving towards the Exit gate, we found one more Dome but this time It had Roses instead of Tulips. Again, the variety of Roses it had was unimaginable. That day, I realised Rosed too, could have that many sizes and colours. The place gave insanely romantic vibes. Despite being an extremely unromantic person, I end up proposing to Aayushi on my knees for one more time ЁЯШЙ.
The closing time of Keukenhof was 7:30 PM. We couldn't believe, even after spending 3 and half hours, we couldn't satisfy our hunger for tulips ЁЯШЬ. I realized even if we would have reached here on time, we would have missed Zaanch Village. because It was impossible to leave the place before its closing time. We exited, picked up our luggage from the cloakroom and hired a taxi to Zandvoort. which would be our home in the Netherlands for the coming 2 Days.
Day VII: Exploring The Beautiful Amsterdam
Amsterdam was one of the costliest cities in the World that was why we were staying in Zandvoort, 30 mins from the Amsterdam Centraal. Zandvoort was a small seaside town on the North Sea Coast. As we had a packed schedule, The only slot I had to visit Zandvoort Beach was in the morning. Hence, I woke up early and went jogging to the beach.
It was a cloudy morning and drizzling as well. This was the kind of weather Amsterdam experienced 270 days a year. In 15 minutes, I reached the Beach. Frankly speaking, I had been to better beaches than that. But being a beach person, I wouldn't miss a chance to visit beaches. Beaches always gave me peace of mind and clarity in my thoughts. It was a pity, I couldnтАЩt able to spend more time there due to a packed schedule for the day. While jogging, I experienced something I would never ever forget. On my way to the beach, I crossed paths with many locals and tourists. Not just a few but all of them greeted me with a smile. Some of them even wished me "Good Morning!" Look, In Bangalore, even neighbours never talked with each other. So, when I got such an amazing gesture from strangers, in a country that was 3000 KMs from India, It touched my heart! As they say: NO TO RACISM!
We caught a Sprinter to Amsterdam Centraal and reached Amsterdam by 9:30 AM. Our Meeting Point for the Bicycle Tour was just a 500 Meters walk from the Station which took another 10 minutes of walk to reach there.
The duration of the cycle tour was 3 and a half hours. in which, we would be exploring the entire Amsterdam city. On the way, we would also learn some fascinating facts/stories about Amsterdam.
The tour began from the streets which were built in the 16th century. We stopped by a community park where our guide explained to us the story behind the name of the city. Amsterdam meant multiple dams built on the river Amstel. Amstel + Dam = Amsterdam! Also, the ground level of Amsterdam was a few meters below the sea level just like Alleppy of Kerala. Due to this, the entire city was affected badly by countless floods. To protect the city against these floods, engineers of Amsterdam worked on their water management system and made it insanely efficient. Because of that the water level of all the canals of Amsterdam would remain the same regardless of the weather conditions. they hadn't faced a single flood crisis afterwards, Incredible, Isn't it? If you would have remembered, recently a huge ship got stuck in the Suez Canal. For months, it got stuck until an Amsterdam-based company came to the rescue! Interestingly, Amsterdam was never conquered despite being a very small city. Any guesses why? because back in those times, the only way to reach Amsterdam was by sea route. Whenever any enemy tried to attack them via sea route, they opened all of their dams and washed enemies without firing a single bullet or an arrow!
We crossed a bridge and entered relatively newer and modern streets. we stopped at the bank of a canal where our guide had informed us that these streets of Amsterdam were built in the 17th century. While we were standing there, He told us to observe the houses of Amsterdam. Later, he shared the facts about the unique architecture of the houses of Amsterdam. We observed houses in Amsterdam were thinner in width but taller in height. The reason behind that was back in the 17th century, the taxes on the houses were calculated based on the amount of ground they occupied. And, everything above ground level was excluded from TAX. That's why people built thinner but taller houses. As it would be cheaper ЁЯШТ. He also pointed his figures to the top of the building and asked us, If we could observe anything. Later, he told, All the houses in Amsterdam had a Hook at their Ceilings. In earlier times, these buildings were used as warehouses rather than residences. All the goods were transported via canals to different parts of Amsterdam. upon reaching the desired warehouses, luggage would directly be transported from the ship to the warehouses with the help of cranes via these Hooks. That too, on any floor of that building! Very thoughtful, Wasn't It?
We crossed a bridge and entered the streets built in the 18th century. These streets also had the famous house of Annie Frank. A 14-year-old girl who lived quietly amongst Germans throughout world war II without anyone's knowledge. Imagine, How difficult it would be for her to hide in such a small house for more than 2 years for her survival. Of course! If she would have caught by any of them, she would be a dead girl! I heard that was one of the best museums in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, we missed it as tickers were sold out. There was also a protestant church just beside Annie Frank's house. In Prague, I understood the meaning of the protestant church. So wait till I post that one or google it if can't wait ЁЯШЙ
We left the maze of beautiful buildings and entered a more natural and greener part of Amsterdam. That was Amsterdam Central Park, The neighbouring streets were the posh area of Amsterdam. That was the end of our half of the cycle tour and it was time for a well-deserved lunch break. We parked our cycle and went to a Cafe where I ordered Beer, please don't complain about who would drink beer in the afternoon! Because when you were on a trip, you should do what you wished and that was my wish ЁЯШЙ About that beer, It was bitter beer with a great aftertaste.
After lunch, we resumed our journey and stopped by a huge lake that was situated in the centre of the park. While we were there our guide shared a great ritual associated with this park and lake. Once a year, the entire city would gather around this place and party for the rest of the day and the night. A paradise for the party animals, Isn't It? Our guide had planned only one activity for us. For that, he requested us to form 2 queues of 5 people each. Later he asked one Queue to stand and the other Queue to jump and vice versa. He asked if those, who were standing while the others jumped had felt any vibrations. Indeed! All of us acknowledged with a surprised look on our faces! He explained the reason for it was the weak soil and a lot of water underneath the ground. Could you imagine staying in a tall building that was built on such weak soil, Indeed it was an architectural marvel!
We left the park and cycled through the posh part of Amsterdam. I observed that in front of every house, there was either a Porshe, BMW, Mercedes, Audi or Tesla parked! Seriously, I hadn't been to a street richer than this! We stopped at the open garden. There was a tall historical building in front of it. That was the national museum of Amsterdam.
Our guide laughed that in Amsterdam people had incredible independence. like they could practice any religion or even their sexual interests but they couldn't modify a single thing inside their home! Imagine having a house in Amsterdam and wanting to modify the position of the window or maybe the colour of the building. you had to raise a request and pay the required fees for it. After all these, you would be notified that your request wasn't granted ЁЯШЬ. That was how the government of Amsterdam had managed to keep every street unmodified since the time they were built.
Post completion, we walked around the streets of Amsterdam, clicked beautiful pictures and did some shopping. I got a cool Coffee mug, Votka Shots Glasses and fridge magnets. Also, ate a delicious Pork Burger at a roadside restaurant.
Next on the list was the Heineken Museum. The one for which I was too excited since I was planning for the trip. A friend of mine was a huge fan of Heineken hence this visit was dedicated to Bhuppida ( that piyakkad dost ). Overall it was a very informative tour with 3 free Beers that you could have with a great panoramic view of Amsterdam City from its terrace.
This one paragraph was dedicated to all football lovers. Let me start with the picture which made my day! The T-shirt of the 4 times B'Dor winner and 5 times CL winner Mr ChampionsLeague, CR7-A united legend! As Heineken was the main sponsor of the Champions League, They got a signed T-shirt of many footballing legends including CR7. Ironically, I didnтАЩt find MessiтАЩs T-shirt ЁЯШЬ But again, we were talking about the Champions League where he choked ЁЯШЙ
It's an Emotion ~
By the time we completed Heineken Tour, It was 6:30 PM and It was raining heavily. Nonetheless, we tried to see if we could get an early slot for the canal cruise but we didn't. Also, I knew the angoor khatte hote hai story. So, I told myself that it would be an overhyped activity and it would be ok if I couldn't do it ЁЯШЬ
Like Paris, Amsterdam too, had its vibes. Taller but thinner colourful buildings with a hook on their ceiling. The web canals ran through all parts of Amsterdam and countless small bridges to cross them. and the main mode of transportation was bicycles and not cars! Experiencing all these on our cycle was the coolest memory of my stay in Amsterdam! It had been a great day and Ab ek do chize reh b jaye tab bhi kuch farak nahi padega! Also, we had an early 7:00 AM flight to catch and a long following day in Prague. So, we called it a day and took a train to Zandvroot.
The Following 2 Days we spent in Prague. Out of All the 11 Countries that I had visited, Only Italy could beat Prague. To unfold my Prague adventure, please click on 👉 Vienna - Austria