Kensington Mums do Holland

Amsterdam has always been on my ‘places to visit’ list and when I heard about the Tulip festival which takes places every year in Keukenhof,  It had to be my time to go. The Tulip festival happened to coincide very well with Mothers day this year and so I decided to turn it into a Mother and daughter getaway. Another friend and her mother  also join us on our trip. 

The flight to Amsterdam is very short from London, and with little time for the trip we were adamant to not have to do any stops . British Airways fly direct from London Heathrow. We arrived at Schipol airport in Amsterdam and even the airport was filled with Tulips and many posters around promoting the Keukenhof Festival. We took an train to get to Central Station. We were checking into NH Barbizon Palace since a few of our friends had stayed there before and highly recommended it.

Before my trip, I checked out Instagram to see if I could get any tips on what to do in Amsterdam and stubbled upon you Little Black Book. I read and followed Anne De Buck’s recommendations as City Guide and latest trends. Since we were there for only a few days, we had to be well organised and make the most of each day.  

Amsterdam

Walking around Amsterdam is just beautiful; the canals, its rich architectural history and stunning picturesque views were just a few of my favourite things. We were excited to explore this new City and learn about the Dutch culture, enjoy the food and visit museums. According to Wikipedia, “Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, receiving more than 4.63 million international visitors annually, this is excluding the 16 million day trippers visiting the city every year”.

I’ve had a passion for photography since a very young age and just love capturing different scening views. Here are some of my favourite shots from what we saw and loved in Amsterdam.  The canal ring houses were my favourite. These houses were mostly narrow and characterized by big narrow windows, decorative gable tops, very narrow stairs inside and pulley outside to transport larger objects to upper floors. The streets were always buzzing with people since the early hours.

 

Accommodation

We stayed at the NH Barbican Hotel which was very well located in the centre of the city. We were walking distance from the shops, canals and Central Station.

Our room was a spacious double room with a stunning view. The image below captures the view we were lucky to have every morning from our hotel. It helped that we had nice weather during our stay. All staff members at our Hotel were very friendly and especially the concierge was very helpful in guiding us during our stay. As I was there with my mother in time for Mother’s day, I had organised for a fresh bouquet of tulips to be delivered to the room to surprise here. These were waiting for us in the room and my Mother loved them!

Keukenhof – 7 Million Bulbs in Bloom

When finally the day came, we couldn’t be more excited about finally discover the true colours of Holland in Springtime. We spend a whole day at Keukenhof.  We got there via bus which took around 1 hour from Amsterdam – Keukenhoff.  The departure was from the A’DAM Lookout.

We had pre-booked our tickets via this link and highly recommend you do so to avoid queuing. The tickets also included fast track entry to the park. The Keukenhof website was also very helpful in planning our visit and discover the park. The buses depart every 30minutes which was very convenient for us. Make sure your camera is fully charged when you go to capture memorable flower photos.

The Keukenhof park is a truly unique place in the world. More than 30 gardeners work there for months to plant over 7 million flower bulbs!

Interesting Facts:

  • Did you know that tulips are originally NOT Dutch? They are actually from Turkey and were brought to Leiden.
  • Nowadays, tulips are not expensive to buy and we see colourful bunches in London and pretty much everywhere we go. They bloom in April and May. The  crowns are cut off, the bulb stays in the ground and multiply, these new baby bulbs grow around the main bulb. In July and August they are taken out of the ground. Half of the bulbs are for export, and the other hand are re-planted in October to reproduce for the next Spring.

The park is divided into 7 different areas, each one showcasing different flowers. You can click here for a map of the park. My favourite was the Willem-Alexander Pavilion. As soon as you walk into the garden, you can’t help but smell a rich smell of fresh flowers and tulips. It is a garden filled with colours as far as the eyes can see. Various kinds of tulips, lilies and different flowers and plants. You can also take a wonderful boat trip through the bulb field surrounding Keukenhof in “whisper boats” and this takes around 45minutes.  If you feel more traditional, you may rent bicycles at the main entrance to discover the breathtaking and colourful surroundings of Keukenhof by cycling along.

There are lockers in case those are needed. Free Wi-Fi is available in the whole park and its very easily accessible with a buggy.  The park is open until 21st May 2017 so you still have time to visit it.

 

Enjoy browsing through some of the pictures we took from our day trip to Keukenhoff.

 


 


What to See in Amsterdam

Coming from London, we are spoiled for choice with the museums particularly in south Kensington but even Amsterdam has few unique to offer. The Van Gogh museum was a must to visit . You can check a list of museums in Amsterdam via this link. Before you get to the museum, I highly recommend you book your tickets online via this link. Again this is to avoid long queues and delays to your day and helps you plan your day at its best. The bookings are done by the hour. Children and teenagers up to age of 17 years can visit museums FREE of charge. The museum is easily accessible with a buggy

“Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum maintains the world’s largest collection of the works of the world’s most popular artist – Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), his paintings, drawings and letters, completed with the art of his contemporaries. Each year, 1.6 million visitors come to the Van Gogh Museum, making it one of the 25 most popular museums in the world”. 

We took the multimedia audio tour which helped a lot to learn more about the history of Van Gogh, his life and the meaning behind each painting.

 

My favourite painting from the collection was the Almond Blossom. Flowering trees were special to Van Gogh. They represented awakening and hope. Almond Blossom was made to celebrate the birth of his nephew and namesake.

 

What to do in Amsterdam 

We did a Canal Cruise which was a lot of fun to learn more about the city life. This one hour cruise takes you through the elegant canals of Amsterdam where you will see the merchant’s homes and the majestic facade. The special audio system can be found in 19 languages. Kids from 4-13year will have to purchase a ticket for entry. You can find them near the Central Station and they depart every hour.

This website has a list of excursions and canal cruises, museums and attractions to choose from. So the choice is yours!

Mode of Transport

The best way to go around Amsterdam would be by foot, unless you are going far distances than the tram would be the best option. We were amazed by the number of bicycles we saw in the streets of Amsterdam.

Tip: Alway have an extra lock on you bike as many bicycles get stolen in the city.  WATCH OUT! This advice was given to us by a local who we stopped during our trip.

Where to Eat in Amsterdam

Pancakes Amsterdam.  Their menu, as you probably have guessed, is all about pancakes. Plain Dutch or American. We went there for breakfast early enough to avoid the queues as we had been told that there is always a queue to eat there. Its location is just off the Central canals where you can enjoy a beautiful walk after to burn some of the calories . They only accept card payment as apparently they have been robbed before.

Taiko. We booked to dine at Taiko in Conservatorium Hotel. We heard a lot about this place by fellow Kensington Mums Marieke who is now living in Amsterdam with her family. So it was a nice get together where we caught up on life, kids and work. The food is contemporary asian cuisine. We went mad for their black cod.  We had a few starters to share including Salmon Sashimi, Dim sum and tuna tatami. A real delight.

Number 1 French Fries in Amsterdam. Those we found on the streets of Amsterdam and they were huge, crispy and yummy. The queue was long but so worth it! It was eventually our dinner on the first night as we were so tired to go anywhere else. We ended up eating them while walking in the streets of Amsterdam by night and enjoying the views of the canals, and boats.

Amsterdam, you have been everything I was expecting and so much more, DANK JE! I look forward to my next visit.

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