It is indeed spring in the Netherlands and as half of America keeps reminding me, that means: tulips! More accurately, it means flowers. Fields and fields of flowers. There are the organized and admission-required displays at the Keukenhof (Probably heading there later this month with guests. We’re eager to see the displays around the 2011 theme of… “Germany.”), and then there are just fields.
Curious to see these fields in person and during their brief peak season, we took the train this Sunday afternoon to Voorhout. On the train, we passed a field of (I think) hyacinths—and we could smell the aroma of flowers on the train speeding by. These are serious quantities of blooms. From Voorhout Station, we’d been told, a short walk or bike ride puts you in the midst of as many fields as you could want to explore. (If that link works, you should see a Google map of where we went. Turn the map on satellite and you’ll just see fields.)
The best way to see the fields is by bicycle. I can say this with confidence because we saw them on foot. We still had a great experience, only covering less ground than we might have on bike; plus, the streets in this area have bike lanes but not sidewalks, so there were portions where we were walking on busy roads that felt a bit unsafe. (We chose not to bike on my vote. We had just done two long bike rides in two days and I was a bit biked out.)
So we strolled along Jacoba van Beierenweg, passing a lot of nice suburban-type homes (and were intrigued, free-standing homes being unusual in Delft). Pretty quickly, fields started to appear, poking out from behind buildings. First, a field of pink hyacinths off to our left.
One of the great things around here is that there is not the same feeling as in the US regarding personal property and liability. Whenever we came upon a field, I would wonder if we were “allowed” to walk in it. Then we’d see people out walking in it and think: it must be OK. In general there was a lot of freedom to wander around, walk out in a sea of flowers, take pictures, eat a picnic. We continued about a mile, wandering off on side adventures as we pleased, and it was clear that we could have continued on for quite some time if we’d been so inclined. Bicyclists were out in full force seeing the area.
As someone who really likes bouquets that are just a tied bunch of one flower variety, I loved the imagery of the fields. But the most amazing thing was that the colors were so bright, they made me feel like I’d never really seen the color red before. Or yellow. Or purple. I was wearing a red sweater, but next to my favorite field (this super-dense crop of red tulips), I felt like my sweater was mute and should probably be burned for even thinking it was a color.
Strung along the road were little stands at the end of driveways where, on the honor system, you could buy a bunch of tulips. My favorite was this one, where you leave the money in a little wooden shoe.