From 2008-2010, I lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s located close to a town called Holland. As the name suggests, Holland has a large Dutch community, and they have a huge festival called Tulip Time each spring. I definitely participated while living there, and it made me want to go to the Netherlands to see the real thing.
This year, I finally did it! Even more tulips would’ve been in bloom if I had waited another week or two, but I was attempting to avoid holiday weekends. Either way, there were still plenty of tulips in bloom.
I left Amsterdam early in the morning and took a bus out to Keukenof – a huge garden that is full of tulips and other beautiful flowers. Unfortunately, I was there the day of the flower parade, so there were A LOT of people, but it helped to arrive before 9:00 to have a little bit of time to walk around and enjoy the gardens before the crowds arrived.
I took SO MANY pictures, because there were gorgeous flowers around every turn. Hopefully, these pictures will make you feel like you were right there with me. It was breathtaking!
There was even a bathtub full of flowers in one of the greenhouses!
In the midst of all the flowers, I found the Easter Bunny!
What a stunning place! After two hours in the gardens, I left to rent a bike and ride to some of the nearby fields and farms where I could see even more tulips blooming. I rode around for 45-60 minutes and found some beautiful fields! I found it hilarious that I was too short to rent one of the adult bikes. I ended up with a kid bike for my ride into the countryside!
I was disappointed to have to rush out of the gardens and to take a shorter bike ride than I would’ve liked, but the flower parade closes the roads for the entire afternoon, and I didn’t want to be stranded until evening.
After returning my bike, I got in line for the bus I needed to take back to the city. After 30 minutes of waiting and a bus with our number skipping our line and picking up passengers in another line, I realized I needed to push someone to get us a bus (“us” being me and the 40-50 people queueing behind me). After finding the head police officer and explaining why it was unacceptable for a bus marked with our number to skip over us, we were boarding a different bus within three minutes. Those lined up behind me thanked me for saving the day. Leave it to the feisty American to make sure we got out of there before the roads closed.
Back in Amsterdam, I walked through some of the boutique shops in the Nine Streets before heading to Gartine for Afternoon Tea. I highly recommend this adorable little restaurant. Reservations are a must, but the service was amazing, and everything was so delicious! It was a beautiful place to relax, warm up, and read after a chilly day outside.
I shopped a bit more to end my day. Hooray for a city where shops stay open late on a Saturday and where I can find some American brands!
On Sunday morning, I had breakfast at Bakers & Roasters. With so many amazing breakfast options, I couldn’t decide what I wanted and opted for two different things. Sadly, the pancakes weren’t as good as they looked. But, the twist on Eggs Benedict was great!
After breakfast, I went to the Rijksmuseum for their special exhibit, “All the Rembrandts.”
At the start of the exhibit, they introduce it by saying:
The Rijksmuseum boasts the largest collections of paintings by Rembrandt in the world… To mark the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death, we are presenting all the works by the artist in our collection for the first time: 60 drawings, 300 prints, and 22 paintings.”
There were lots of self-portrait sketches at the start. Apparently, he’s the artist who did more self-portrait sketches than anyone else. It was one of the ways he used to practice drawing different emotions….
And there were several really dark paintings where you could barely see the detail. I don’t understand how he made these!
A lot of the drawings and paintings they had on display were Rembrandt’s depiction of various Bible stories. I really liked some of these dark drawings, like the angels appearing to the shepherds…
…or the shepherds coming to see Jesus, Mary, and Joseph after hearing the Good News…
Some of the drawings made me take a second glance, like this one of Mary Magdalene confusing Jesus for the gardener when she went to the tomb…
There were a number of very large paintings, too, but with so many people in the exhibit, it was virtually impossible to take a picture of any of the large ones without getting a lot of strangers in it, too. I visited the museum on my last visit to Amsterdam, so I skipped the rest of it and headed for the airport after this exhibit.
What a great weekend away enjoying some of my favorite things…flowers, art, shopping, and good food!