Day 1 of Amsterdam
Bad news, I had to cancel the hotel I booked because Abby’s sister thinks that it’s too expensive. I had to sleep on the floor of their hotel room.
Amsterdam was hot, so hot that I sweated. It was probably about 20 degrees Celsius plus. Since it’s spring now, the sun doesn’t sun till 8PM. It gave us plenty of time to walk around.
Our first destination was Keukenhof, the largest spring garden in the world. Visitors have enjoyed the splendour of over 7 million flowering bulbs more than fifty years. The trip from Schiphol Airport costs us 10e. Bloody expensive I would say. The place is located on a flat and beautiful suburb, with beautiful typical Dutch houses and tulip farms.
There were loads of people in Keukenhof. So many till we had to queue up to take pictures. Unfortunately, it’s not the bloom season yet. Not all the flowers very fully bloomed hence we couldn’t see the spectacular view of a fully colourful long stretched tulip farms. However, it was still good, more than half of the flowers in the park are fully bloomed. Good for photography!
There’s a huge windmill built during the 1800s, it no longer function as a production machine but yet the propeller still works. It’s now a tourist attraction.
The history of the tulip
Wherever in the world you see a tulip, you automatically think of Holland. The flower is the symbol of the country, yet it certainly does not originate here.
Carolus Clusius, the famous biologist of Leiden’s Hortus Botanicus, is generally credited as the man who introduced the tulip into Holland in 1593. He would never have been able to do so had he not been a good friend of the Flemish De Busbecq. It was he who, as ambassador to Constantinople, fell under the spell of a beautiful flower in the palace gardens: the tulip. He sent a few bulbs to Clusius who cultivated them in the garden in Leiden.
Stories about this special flower spread rapidly. Enchanted by its beauty, rich Dutchmen were prepared to spend vast sums of money for a tulip bulb. That the Dutch have always been astute businessmen was apparent then too because before very long, foreign buyers also appeared on the market. The tulip was ‘hot’ and a sort of ‘gold-fever’ developed, similar to the Internet fever of the 1990s. Of course, this came to an inevitable and bitter end. In 1637, there was a ‘Tulip Crash’ and tulip mania was over. Finally, the tulip did not appear to be quite so rare as to justify such high prices any longer. Over-supply led to lower prices and many dealers went bankrupt.
An export product
But the trade in tulips has continued unabated. The tulip, closely followed by lilies, gladioli, daffodils and many other decorative flowers, is now one of the Netherlands most important export products. Most of them go to the United States, Germany and Japan. Of the billion bulbs that remain in Holland, the vast majority are used to grow cut tulips.
If you’re wondering, there’s a difference between Netherlands and Holland. Netherlands means low land and it’s the name of the country. Holland is a province in the Netherlands and Amsterdam is located in Holland.
We spent 4 hours in the park. We were so tired by the end of the day. We headed to Amsterdam city for dinner. We went to this restaurant hidden from main streets. Apparently, Jess, Abby’s sister used to go there often when she was working for Singapore Airlines as a stewardess. But it took us a while to look for it, Jess forgot where was the place located.
We had pork ribs and escargots (snails) were good, which were good according to Jess. The portion was really huge and we had to share 2 plates of pork ribs between 4 of us.
We headed back to the hotel after dinner. Jess and her mother went to sleep immediately. I had to sleep on the floor. It was so uncomfortable till I couldn’t sleep at all.