Friday, 25 April 2014

London & Holland April 2014 Day 6

Monty the Motorhome is on a pitch at Camping Alkmaar, having moved on from Amsterdam. He feels the need to rest his windscreen for a while as today we have been exposed to kaleidoscopes of colour while driving through the Dutch bulb region. 

We moved on from Amsterdam today and visited the world famous Keukenhof Bulb Gardens. They feature in every guidebook top ten and rightly so.
First the facts about the place:
  • Only open for a limited time each year - this year from 29 March to 11 May
  • 32 hectares in size
  • The world’s largest bulb garden
  • Planted with more than 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths
  • Over 800,000 will visit
We had read that the queues can be horrendous, but arriving at 10am on a weekday it was fine and we were in very quickly. Straightaway the camera came out, the place is just so photogenic. I thought I was being quite restrained, but still ended up with over 100 shots.

It is breathtaking and a good half day needs to be devoted as it just seems to go on and on. All displays are at a high standard, which is maintained by workers replacing faded and spent displays by planting new bulbs just on the point of flowering. From the edge of the garden the stark beauty of commercial bulbfields can be viewed stretching into the distance. Just now the tulips are well in flower, so vivid reds dominate the landscape.

We left about 2pm and drifted northwards, through more riots of colour, as this is one of Holland’s main bulb growing regions and reached Alkmaar by mid-afternoon.

We had pre-booked this site and it appears this was a wise move. Tomorrow is the weekly Alkmaar Cheese Market and the site gets really busy as a result. On arrival we needed to fill up with fresh water and were surprised to find it was metered, at a cost of 50 cents for 40 litres. I have read that this is quite common on the continent and it makes one realise how fortunate we are in GB that this basic necessity of life is usually free.

Cheese is the mainstay of Alkmaar’s tourist trade, but the town itself is very picturesque. We went wandering prior to having an evening meal at Restaurant Deli, an Indonesian in the centre of town. We had a dish called ‘rice plates’, which was for two to share. In effect it was a number of different dishes - like tapas - of delicious Indonesian fare. Just the job after a long day.

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