We have started 2016 trips with visit to world famous Keukenhof Tulip garden and surrounding Tulip fields Near to Amsterdam and city itself.
Compared to other European countries we have visited till date [ namely France ( Paris ) , Spain ( Madrid , Barcelona ) , Germany ( Berlin , Stuttgart & region ) , Czech Republic ( Prague ) , Hungary ( Budapest ) ] we both found Dutch people are MOST friendly and welcoming to tourists.
They are not friendly because they are poor and in need of tourist money, but infact they are one of the richest EU countries but money don’t make lesser friendlier towards other people / tourist ( like some people whose behavior changes overnight after they get money ).
As all of them have learnt English language during their school days , you don’t feel handicapped during your travel within Holland as you will/may in other european countries.
Amsterdam has got most professional and well marketed tourists offices who help in planning your trip with lesser hassles.
During our week long trip , we covered Zandvoort beach , Wind Mills , Fishing villages , Amsterdam , Keukenhof Tulip garden , surrounding tulips fields , Delft , The Hague.
Even though April mid is start of Spring in Europe , Netherlands is quite chilly as in Winter due to always windy weather. Don’t forget to take your winter jacket , this is the biggest mistake we did in this trip.
If you’re planning to stay longer in Amsterdam , it’s worth buying OV chip card and adding money to it. Otherwise for each of the ticket purchase , you need to pay additional 1 Euro for OV chip card which is only bad part I found with public transport. Also there was no family ticket.
Keukenhof Gardens and Surrounding Flower Fields Visit
We had spent 2 full days for these activities. The garden itself is so huge that if you wish to visit most of it ; you’ll definitely need 1 full day.
Garden is open only limited time each year , mainly during End of March till Mid May. Best time to visit is Mid April. Check their website to confirm tulips have bloomed. Sometimes because of longer winter , they may not be bloomed fully.
Expect at least tens of thousands of visitors even on week days. I suggest start your day early and spend full day in garden. Other than watching beautiful flowers , it’s fun to watch tourist giving unique pose with the flower while themselves clicked 🙂
Not to be missed is the Central Glass house with thousand varieties of Tulips. Also other enclosed flower shows are quite unique and beautiful
Don’t forget to collect map at the start of Garden , it will help to cover it properly. Also I suggest to book tickets in advance ( online or tourist offices ) in order to avoid queue in morning.
If you want to enjoy real tulip farms without any tourist and spread across horizon, then rent bike from the shop outside of Keukenhof gardens ( RENT-A-BIKE VAN DAM ). They have 4 routes , as we were over enthusiastic about these flower strips so did 15 km in a day.
This obviously affected our next day as both of us were completely exhausted but it’s once a life time experience 🙂
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqmx6OVe_u8 see this melodious Tamil ( Indian ) movie song to inspire you to do longer bike ride 🙂 with your loved one.
If you want to go near the flower strip , don’t hesitate to ask & request people working in farm. We had really nice experience as all allowed us to take pictures.
Zaanse Schans Windmills , Marken and Volendam
We spent a day to visit these places which are an hour drive by bus from Amsterdam central station. Buying Regional ticket will be economical way to reach these places.
Zaanse Schans is a small village which is well preserved showcasing old Holland Wind mills doing different kind of tasks like wood cutting , powder making etc.
This village has got few small museums not to be missed as well. Start your day early , finish this village visit. Later you can goto couple of nice fishing villages namely Marken and Volendam.
You can take boat to go from Marken to Volendam. Don’t miss wooden shoe manufacturing unit plus shop in Marken. While going to dock from the shop , don’t miss a small souvenir run by a old friendly lady , which belongs to her grand parents.
In Volendam you can visit cheese manufacturing unit.
Delft and The Hague City Visit
We did a day trip covering these 2 cities. There are regular train services from Amsterdam to these cities. In Delft , ‘The Royal Delft’ porcelain factory is nice to see.
Later half of day , we went to The Hague city and straight to ‘Madurodam‘ ( miniature park ). This is most beautiful miniature park we have seen. It brings out kid in you. Keep good amount of change , as some of the activities in park needs you to put 10, 20 , 50 cents and upto 1 Euro.
I found overall ticket prices of museums , parks visit in Holland is quite high. But I feel the way they are maintained , it is worth each euro spent.
The mistake we did in these 2 days trip is , not seeing the bus / train timetables properly. As train frequency is once 30 mins , if you miss the train it will end up wasting unnecessary time.
Plan well in advance about timetable and also time to be spent in each place. Sometimes you just get lost while admiring beauty of a particular place and it affects rest of day’s schedule.
I found this city is taken over by cyclists, sometimes I felt there are more bicycles than people 🙂 First must thing to do is Boat tour through the canals. It is amazing to see one of the intact cities which survived destruction during WW II.
We normally look into trip advisor site and make list of places to visit. I always believe whatever most of the travelers prefer & upvote in trip advisor is good place to visit.
NOT to be missed is couple of canal house museum visit. You can go into the house and admire beauty of these 17th century palace which at present costs around 6 million euros as per our boat tour guide.
We visited one of the canal house namely “Museum Van Loon”. Other thing not to be missed is Anne Frank House , except mismanagement with ticketing system , this is MUST to do in Amsterdam.
If you’re art lover do visit Van Gough Museum , I bought some postcards for my father as he said not to miss this museum but neither me or my wife are into art. So we instead spent 32 euros in buying museum shop souvenir.
If you take out bad things for which some of the tourists go to Amsterdam , it’s really a nice city to visit and enjoy authentic Europe.
Couple of nice restaurants we tried are wagamama at central station and Sarvana Bhavan.
Things I learnt and Amazed
I was really amazed with amount of cheese this country produces each year with such small area and not so nice weather. Be amazed with well maintained Cow Farms during your train or bus travel outside A’dam.
Also tons of vegetables being produced and exported throughout the year with Green Houses .
This makes me to think how can I replicate the model in my native place Solapur , doesn’t seems like Rocket Science to me.
Hats off to these genius dutch people and their past and present government.