The temperatures hit 17, the sunshine hit my bedroom window, and I hit the street. Spring had finally arrived in the Netherlands. No more moping about the apartment watching it rain; no more dark clouds at work. It was time for the spring tulips!
And there is noplace better than the Keukenhof gardens. Last year, on the last weekend that they were open in May, everything was dead or bare. This year, April should be the height of the season, but timing is still an elusive thing. Many tulips were almost (but not quite) out, and some of the shrubs were still hibernating. But the overall effect is spectacular: literal rivers of color winding between geometric arrangements of every spring flower imaginable. There were wonderful sculpture gardens, long paths with color receding into the distance, and wonderful reflecting pools that invited picnic pauses.
The Dutch were out in force, still bundled against the cold, but the grounds are large enough that things seldom felt crowded. It was Chinese-Dutch Olympic Friendship Day (or something close to it), so there were a lot of Asian visitors posing and taking pictures everywhere (although I’ve seen spring displays in Tokyo rival the colors here).
I went looking for the tulip fields along N208 all the way up to Haarlem, but didn’t find anything. I turned back south along N206, and was rewarded with multicolored fields all the way to Leiden. It really does look like broad paintbrush strokes across the fields, and worth getting a few hundred meters off onto the side roads to really see the colors close up.