When I think of the Dutch countryside, I think windmills and tulips. I mean, it must be splattered all over books and the internet for a reason, because why else would I think that right?!
I imagined fields and fields of colorful flowerbeds. I saw it so clearly I could smell how fragrant it could have been! I was so excited to take picsssss and picsssss swimming inside those colorful, fragrant tulip fields with those big, huge windmill barns in the background.
I did a little research, but thought this is one of those things I want to go talk to locals about and have them direct me. This situation was like the biggest fail in life! The first piece of information person upon person told me (with smiley confusion on their faces, nonetheless – I must add here, Dutch people are extremely friendly!) was tulip season just ended. Literally by a day! My only thought was that it had to be impossible?!??! It was the middle of MAY! And you know….April showers, MAY flowers…..???????
So after tons of digging and chatting to locals etc, the whole deal is tulip season is basically only like a month and a half. After that, they cut the tulips and sell them all across Europe. And that is that. That is it. That is all. Go home stupid tourists, no flowers here. The reason the tulips get so much hype is that – for that month and a half – they are actually THAT beautiful! You just have to be there for that month and a half from around the end of March until mid-May.
The best place to go to see the tulips is in Lisse, which is in western Netherlands and considered in the Provence of South Holland. There, you will find the famous Keukenhof flower gardens (Don’t even ask me how to pronounce that, because the way I say it in my head, was NOT the way the locals pronounced it even to any degree! Dutch is an interesting language one may find entertaining if not familiar lol). I was told the best way to enjoy the tulip fields is if you bike through it! That would have been nice. Lisse was a bit far from Amsterdam, and since my schedule in the Netherlands was tight, it was a no-go. I figured if I go all the way over there, and it’s just a bunch of fields with no flowers, I would rather not waste the day traveling that far.
I ended up going nearby to Zaanse Schans, to take a chance to see the flowers (there were none!) but there were windmills!
It was a cute little village with traditional Dutch style cottages. I’ll be honest, it looked man-made, but I heard it is not. I don’t know, that’s just the feeling I got. Maybe it would have not felt that way, had there been tulips. This place was filled with tourists as well.
After taking a walk around for about 15 mins, I was pretty much done lol. None of my pics turned out nicely either. The sun was a little too bright, I was traveling with others who are not into photography and I didn’t have my selfie stick at that time.
I really did try to appreciate it but it just wasn’t for me. I think when you have a glorified image of a place in your mind, and it turns out to be not as magical, you can’t help feeling disappointed. In my defense, the way I see it, the world is humongous and every place you might end up traveling to and exploring may not be magical for everyone. There were some picturesque moments though….
I do have to note, as I looked out onto the open field (which should have been filled with tulips, and was the week before!) It totally reminded me of India! I have a fond memory of my cousins taking me for a drive in the countryside of Punjab on our way from picking up my nephew from his college (or “tuitions” as they call it lol) to show me the “real” pindh! Lol…
Sometimes you have to go to a place to understand these things so you don’t get so disappointed. Next time I go to Holland, I will know to go in April for the tulips. I will also try to research more villages I can go to any time, like Giethoorn, which I really wanted to go see but had no time. I wrote about it on my old magazine if you would like to check it out here:
Anyways, Holland is beautiful, but you have to go on the right season if you want to experience the whole galore of swimming in tulips. That was a major thing I wanted to see. I’ll probably do some more research on some other villages besides Giethoorn to explore any time of year without the disappointment of no tulips. Europe is known for some exquisite countrysides!
Definitely on my bucket list is to tour around as many European countrysides as possible! You definitely need the time and also understand the best villages in Europe may not be the easiest to get to. Definitely do your research, plan ahead and accordingly and possibly rent a car.