While still in Amsterdam, I also made a day trip to the Keukenhof Gardens, considered one of the largest flower gardens in Europe. It’s located in the town of Lisse, about 40 kilometers from Amsterdam, and accessible via buses, thereby making it a convenient day trip over. Considering that I was in the Netherlands in April during the start of tulip season, I was interested in going to Keukenhof, so I did just that.
The day after a horrendous space cake episode (you can read more about it in the previous post), I woke up to get breakfast at my hostel before heading out to Keukenhof for the day. I was still feeling the effects of the space cake– numb, spacey, and tired– but all the same forced myself to head over to the bus station near Leidseplein where I took it to the airport (Schiphol). From there, I had to transfer to a shuttle specifically designed to go to Keukenhof; after about one hour of travel, I arrived at the garden’s entrance around 10h30.
I’d already reserved my entrance ticket online, so it wasn’t a problem getting into the gardens- beats having to queue up with a swarm of tourists that day! I spent the next two hours or so wandering around the gardens, taking in the bright, colorful flowers perfectly groomed to certain shapes and motifs. From yellow to red to violet, the sheer number of roses, tulips, and lilies were overwhelmingly gorgeous.
Unfortunately, it was raining the day that I went to Keukenhof. It wasn’t just a light sprinkling, either: it was pouring! I absolutely hate the rain, and admittedly, it kind of put me off from continuing to explore the gardens in depth, just because I didn’t want to be tramping all over the six different flower sections of Keukenhof and risk getting wet (even with an umbrella in hand). Essentially, I just went through the gardens fairly quickly, and around noontime took the shuttle back to the airport, then transferring to head back to Amsterdam.
I returned to Amsterdam around 14h00, where I decided to get myself a late lunch/snack (I was starving by then). I’d been meaning to try a herring sandwich while in the city, so I bought myself one at one of the food stands in the area. Granted, I’m aware that it’s more of a Scandinavian dish than a Dutch one, but being close in geography with the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands can do a legitimate herring sandwich, from what I’ve heard.
The herring sandwich turned out to be a bit disappointing, just because it was still much too early in the season for fresh herring. That said, the one that I had was still frozen, so the sandwich tasted more like pickles and onion (tons of them inside) than the fish itself. From what I’ve heard, fresh herring is supposed to taste sweet (yes, sweet!) when in season, and it doesn’t need as much pickles and onions to bring out the flavors, either. I’ll have to try it again in-season if I ever choose to head up there again!
Later that afternoon, I decided to take a canal tour of Amsterdam, paying 13 euros at my hostel for the ticket and heading out to the canals near the Centraal station. It was sunny and warm that day, which made the one-hour tour along the canal all the more beautiful; admittedly, I kind of dozed off during the excursion, but with the warm weather and everything, it was inevitable! The canal tour was pleasant, although for 13 euros it was a bit pricey.
I returned to my hostel afterwards for a short rest before heading out about an hour or two later to meet up with a friend (another assistante who was also in Amsterdam for the day) to hang out in the evening. We met up at the Albert Cuyp Markt, an outdoor market, around 17h15 before heading over to Vondelpark; along the way, we popped into a supermarket to get some food and alcohol for a picnic.
We arrived at Vondelpark around 18h20. Due to daylight savings, it was still light out, which was advantageous since we wanted to maximize the time spent hanging out. We also met up with two other people, another assistant and his cousin, over there and decided to spend the evening together. We chatted on the park benches, eating and drinking our wine and overall just enjoying the last rays of the setting sun. I’d also brought my space cake with me, offering the rest to the other three, of which they each took no more than a bite or two before we chucked it in the trash- at least it didn’t go to complete waste! Nothing happened with them, since they took such a small quantity of it.
Afterwards, we decided to leave Vondelpark and head to the Red Light District, which was just about to light up for the night. Feeling bold, the assistant’s cousin wanted to buy mushrooms (the drug kind, of course), so he popped into a small, shady-looking shop and bought a few grams. We watched him take perhaps about half of it(!), but even after about an hour or two, it didn’t seem like it was affecting him at all. So much for that…
We wandered around the Red Light District, admiring the dark and seedy-looking alleys and streets which at the same time didn’t feel so unsafe, just because it was so touristy. Again, lots of peep shows going on behind the large windowsills of shops along the canal, which didn’t interest me at all.
Eventually, we ended up at Dam Square, with bars and restaurants packed for the night. We decided to sit down at one of the bars for a drink and to people-watch for a bit. Close to midnight, we decided to call it a night, since my assistante friend needed to check into her hostel before the reception closed and I had to get up early to head to the airport the following morning. Bidding goodbye to the three, I set off for my hostel where I showered, freshened up, and turned in for the night.
Overall, my three days and two nights in Amsterdam were pleasant, although looking back I can’t help but feel slightly underwhelmed by it all. Don’t get me wrong: its canals and bridges certainly lived up to the hype of being absolutely gorgeous, but as for things to see and do, I was put off by how pricey most things were (museums, food, etc.). All the same, it wasn’t a bad start to my April vacances (minus the space cake), and I was content having at least experienced what Amsterdam was all about.
I’ll be continuing with my next destination of last year’s April holidays in the next post. Coming up: Munich, Germany!