Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Amsterdam on the Level, part 4: Blooms Away!

I woke at 6 a.m. and listened. No rain. Looked out window to the slit of sky. Not as dark as previous mornings. Repeated the process in 30 minutes. Same results. Got dressed and was at the door when the ticket office opened. Keukenhof day!

It takes about one hour to get there and with the typical bus tour from Amsterdam you have three hours inside on your own.

Tip: I recommend a tour because you park closer to the entrance and get through the gate faster.

The name means "kitchen garden" and goes back to the 15th century. The original Keukenhof Castle was built in 1614. The original castle keukenhof was redesigned in 1857 and the current design follows that English landscape style garden.

 In 1949 a group of 20 bulb exporters decided to use the estate as a permanent exhibition of spring-flowering bulbs. The goal was to exhibit the finest bulbs they could develop and the park opened to the public in 1950. It has been a blooming success ever since.

Today, in the eight weeks a year it is open, 100 participating companies and 500 growers show off more than 7 million bulbs and 800 different varieties of tulips in more than 20 flower shows. Each year the theme is different and bulbs are replaced with new and improved stock.

Next year it will be open March 23 until May 21, 2017.

Tips: The flowers speak for themselves but here are my recommendations for Levelers.

Walking is easy with paved paths, few and gentle elevation changes.

Don't miss the five pavilions that are dotted about. One contains the spectacular flower show and, a la Disney, offers multiple photo op setups. Another the ABCs of tulips and a final one primarily for food. All have refreshments, bathrooms and gift shops.

Outdoor food and drink booths are set up in the open area in front of the windmill.

Unless the tulip fields are in full bloom and you feel adventuresome, don't bother climbing to the top. You will encounter 35 narrow, twisting steps in claustrophobic space.

In this area you will find the boats that take visitors around the waterways. I didn't, preferring to spend more time in the gardens.

Sculpture is installed throughout. There is a small animal zoo and many other treats for youngsters. Parades come through, too.

 You will not want to leave.

Leia Mais…
Monday, May 23, 2016

Amsterdam on the Level, part 3

What did I miss seeing this time in Amsterdam? A few fascinating things I'd seen before and a new list for next time.

I had already made a thorough visit to Rembrandt House Museum. The master lived here from 1639 to 1658 and the interior has been restored to its original state.

Even more important to connoisseurs, almost a complete collection of the 290 Rembrandt etchings that we know about are housed here and some are always on display. Better yet, there are demonstrations of how  he made those etchings, you can  see. And probably best, you can absorb the environment in which he created such incomparable work. Highly recommended.

Neuw Kerk
I had also seen Oude Kerk, the oldest in Amsterdam, and Neuw Kerk, the "new," 600-year-old church with its changing exhibits, before. Both recommended.

Anne Frank House.
i skipped the Anne Frank House for two reasons: steep, claustrophobic stairways, not good for Levelers, and the lines. If you want to spend the better part of the day waiting to get in, by all means do so. I didn't.

Between time, weather, location and/or energy, I also skipped

Eye, the art of film

Stadsarchief, the City Archives;

Museum Willet-Holthuysen, a historic canal house

Het Grachtenhuis, the museum of canals

Maritime Museum
Het Scheepvaar, the National Maritime Museum

NEMO, the science center

 Amsterdam Pipe Museum

The Botanical Garden

but have penciled them in for future trips.

There are many more, of course. Madam Tussauds Wax Museum, the Torture Museum and the Sex Museum come immediately to mind. Both attract enormous crowds, but neither appeals to me nor do I think they are worth money or the wait.

Leia Mais…