Keukenhof Tulip Festival in the Netherlands - The World's Largest Outdoor Flower Expo

Warning: this post is chock full of pictures of pretty flowers. Hope you enjoy!

Spring is coming in Europe. A couple weeks ago, the weather was in the 60s and the sun was shining every day. What better way to celebrate spring than to visit the world's second largest flower garden in the Netherlands?! Each year for about six weeks from the end of March through the middle of May, Keukenhof gardens come alive and are full of color! We went on their opening weekend with a couple of my sorority sisters (Sara, she blogs too(!), and Carrie). Carrie lives in Germany and Sara lives in the Netherlands. And since they are both photographers, and I'm married to a hobby photographer, we thought this would be perfect! Spring weather, sun, being outside, pretty flowers - what could be better?

We left Thursday after work to headed to Düsseldorf and spend the night with Carrie and her husband Mitch, and then drove to the Netherlands the next day. They have two kids, Marshall and Clara, and by the time we all got up, showered, fed, packed, and on the road, it was about noon. We stayed in Leiden since parking and driving in Amsterdam is insane. That night, we headed into the city center of Leiden for dinner at Eetcafe La Boda. It was a cute little bar/restaurant down a small alley in the center of town. You would walk past it if you didn't know it was there. Despite it's appearance, the food was absolutely amazing. Everyone except me had the spare ribs with garlic sauce. I was in the mood for fish, but after tasting the ribs, I deeply regretted my decision. Clara even managed to fall asleep while we were eating. A sleeping baby is seriously the cutest thing ever.

The next morning, we got up and headed to the gardens where we met Sara and her two girls, Fiona and Ava (making it 4 kids 4 and under for the day). I know she was worried about taking the train down with her two girls by herself for the day, but I'm really glad she did. It was really nice to see her and the girls again.

This was the first time all the kids had met each other, but they got along great. Within minutes, they were all holding hands and Ava and Marshall were declaring their love for each other. They were so adorable, the Japanese tourists kept stopping to take pictures of them. I think we counted 10 over the course of the day.

Unfortunately, the weather in the morning wasn't cooperating. It was raining and the wind was blowing something fierce. Thankfully, there are a number of indoor things to do. We headed to one of the pavilions first in hopes that the weather would clear up. They had buckets and buckets of tulips and a HUGE van Gogh style painting that was beautiful. During a break in the rain, we dashed from there over to the green house. In the green house, there were literally thousands and thousands of tulips. Every shape, size, texture, and color imaginable were there and they were beautiful! Finally around noon, the clouds blew out and the sun was shining, but the wind was still blowing.

At one point, I had Fiona with me and I handed over our little point and shoot camera to her. It's waterproof and shock proof to 6.5 feet, so I figured there wasn't much a supervised 4 year old could do to hurt it. And she loved it! She ran around taking pictures of all the flowers and then smelling them. She would even hand it back to me and ask her to take her picture. As soon as it was in my hands, she would start posing. It's like she has a photographer for a mom or something :)


Thanks to Sara for getting a picture of Aaron and I together! We don't have too many of these.

We were about two weeks early for most of the tulips outside. However, the crocuses were in full bloom and some early tulips were starting to open up. I love when the crocuses start to grow. In Houghton, Michigan where we all went to University, crocuses were the first signs of spring and they would often have to push up through the snow to get to the sun. When they bloomed, everyone knew that the long winter was almost over and that spring was on it's way. 


Aaron was working some fancy magic with the camera to get some amazing macro shots that involved taking the 50 mm lens off, flipping it around, and holding it and the camera together to take a picture. The photographers told me this was called, obviously, flipping the lens. I have to say, some of the shots he got are pretty darn awesome and don't even look real. Some look like they come straight out of a dream. Check them out in the gallery below to see for yourself.

Anchored for life! Alpha Sigma Tau :)

It was great to hang out with sisters and I sometimes forget how important it is to have girlfriends in your life. Facebook and email are good, but being together is even better. Carrie and I have joked that we live closer together than we ever have and of course we're on a completely different continent. We have spent more time together in the last two months than we have in the last two years. Not complaining though :)

Keukenhof was absolutely beautiful! If you're in or near the Netherlands in the spring, this is one place you HAVE to visit. It's easily accessible from Schipohl airport, Amsterdam, and surrounding towns. Aaron and I are planning to go back over Easter in the hopes that the tulips are in bloom. Below is some information if you're interested in going yourself:

What: Keukenhof Gardens

Where: Stationsweg 166A, 2161 AM Lisse, The Netherlands

Ticket Price: 16€ adults, 8€ children (4-11), under 4 free

Get There: by car (parking is available for 6€) or bus (they leave frequently from Leiden Centraal station, Schiphol airport, Haarlem, and Amsterdam Centraal)

Open: Everyday from the end of March - middle of May, 8:00 AM - 7:30 PM

Good to Know: free Wifi at park, dogs are allowed except for in the buildings, lockers are available for an extra fee, there are lots of cafes and restaurants, but you can also bring in your own food

And for more pictures, click through the gallery below!

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