This week Bowser, Anna and I went to the Keukenhof, apparently also known as the Garden of Europe (didn’t know that, learned something new, hope that’s ever gonna be of any use in a game of Trivial Pursuit). It’s one of the world’s largest flower gardens and contains millions of flowers… mostly tulips, of course, it’s in the Netherlands after all. The park is open eight weeks a year, from the end of March to the middle of May, and attracts about a million visitors in those eight weeks. You are probably wondering: Why did you go there? How was it? And did Bowser enjoy it? Tell me all about it! Well… here it comes.
Two of Bowser’s grand-aunts – or what do you call those very old aunts? – spent a few days in Amsterdam, so we decided to meet up with them for a day. Since they are both into flowers and it’s spring (although the weather doesn’t agree), we told them to leave Amsterdam for a day and meet us at the Keukenhof. In my nearly 30 years in the Netherlands, I’ve never been there. Wasn’t ever planning to go, but then Bowser’s grand-aunts came along.
Maybe that’s the good thing about having to entertain visitors from abroad: you go and see places you normally never would, simply because you don’t just go around and play tourist in your own country (or at least I usually don’t). But since half of Bowser’s family is Austrian and most of Anna’s friends are from there, we do get some people from Austria over every now and then. And so we visit places. In the last year Bowser has been to Amsterdam a couple of times, went sightseeing in the very old towns of Nijmegen and Maastricht, watched how his godfather, uncle and parents tasted beers at the La Trappe monastery and visited quite some museums with our friends Daniel and Kathrin from Innsbruck.
The Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven was rather boring. Or maybe ‘boring’ is not the right word: I just don’t get modern art, it’s not for me. If a half-full glass of milk on a square table in the corner of a room is considered art… okay, fine with me, but I don’t really see the point. I don’t know, I just can’t enjoy things like that. Bowser seemed to agree with me: he slept through the entire exhibition. Back then he couldn’t walk yet.
How different was our day in Amsterdam about eight months later: security guards in the world-famous Rijksmuseum were following us everywhere we went and were watching Bowser anxiously as he was running toward some of Rembrandt’s fine works of art, yelling “aaaaahhhhh!” and showing his evil smile. The guards looked a bit uncomfortable, but Anna and I had a very good day. Nice to have someone else keep an eye on Bowser for a change, so we could enjoy our day in the museum and have a normal conversation with Daniel and Kathrin.
In the Keukenhof there weren’t any security guards to make sure Bowser wouldn’t touch anything he wasn’t supposed to. Also, all the other visitors were apparently too busy taking selfies in the middle of the flower fields (where they weren’t allowed to go), so we – responsible parents as we are – thought we better watch Bowser ourselves. Otherwise, by the end of the day he would probably have pulled out every single flower in the park. Or, he would have drowned in one of the ponds. We didn’t want either of those to happen, so we kept a close eye on him. Bowser thought it was a fun game and kept running away from us, giggling, trying to jump into the water and pull out flowers as fast as he could. And he’s fast, I have to say. I mean, barely two months ago he didn’t even know how to stand on his feet by himself and now he’s running around like a maniac, laughing and yelling as he goes. He’s not fast enough, though. Not for me. Why do you think people call me ‘Snelle Jelle’?
Anyway, it was a very nice day. Way better than I initially expected it to be. I was a bit sceptical at first, especially when we arrived and were welcomed by a Dutch street organ, a woman dressed in traditional Dutch clothing, a windmill, Dutch snacks such as ‘broodje kroket’ and ‘poffertjes’, Delft pottery, wooden shoes, fake Dutch canal bridges and lots of plastic tulips for sale in wooden baskets. It was like stepping into the ultimate cliché Dutch theme park. And in a way that’s exactly what the Keukenhof is: you don’t get it any Dutcher than this. But take a few steps more, and you realise it’s actually a very beautiful park. Just see for yourself on the pictures below.