I was nervous.
..unlike the laid back traveler I usually am, who’s happy to go with the flow, to stroll into lanes and bylanes as feet may fancy.. the kind who can go to Paris and forget to visit the Eiffel Tower because an oddly-shaped tree on the way caught her fancy. That’s only a minor exaggeration.
A week before travelling to Amsterdam, I was already tense. I have to meet the tulips. Can we check they’ve not been cut down yet? Can we check the farmers’ fields are still in bloom? Can we check it’s not going to rain?
Soon after landing at the Amsterdam airport, I was asking at the information desk, “If it rains tomorrow, and I have to visit the tulips day after tomorrow instead, can we be sure the farmers won’t cut them down in the meanwhile?” The lady on duty, who must be really good at her job, smiled sweetly, “The tulips will stay put for now.”
My parents had visited Europe more than 30 years back as newly-weds. There are several interesting stories from their visits to many countries. One is about how they travelled to Amsterdam in the middle of the tulip season, but Mum didn’t get to see the tulips. It’s sort of a funny story, but not mine to tell. The bottomline is: My Mum loves flowers. She always laughs when she tells the story of missing out the tulips in Amsterdam. She doesn’t talk about missing many things. So it’s been my mental note for some time to arrange this meeting.
Mum and Dad were to travel with us last week to Amsterdam. Due to a family emergency, they had to postpone their travel. I called Mum from the airplane, sitting next to two unoccupied seats. “Enjoy doubly, on our behalf as well,” she said, “we’ll see the pictures!” Okay! I thought, yes I can get the pictures.
We visited Keukenhof the next morning. The flowers seemed happy to see us..
Flowers are such social creatures- their beauty just multiplies when they are among other flowers!
And most magical when beautifying something else..
Talking about magical, I was tempted to walk in that secluded romantic mist like in Bollywood songs where this garden has been picturized. Well, turns out it’s not that easy. The tulips bloom from March to May, and the tourists drawn are innumerable. The up-side is that the excitement and joy of hundreds of people is palpable and infectious.
The farmers’ fields outside of the garden are a different kind of joy altogether.. a balance of colour and symmetry.. nature and order.. very European.
With the tulips covered, we were back to our usual pace the next day: walking around the city, stopping in little cafes, choosing one must-do: The Anne Frank house (that’s a different conversation altogether), taking the last canal ride for the day..
Amsterdam is a city that suddenly changes colour once the sun goes down, turning ten times prettier at night. The streets begin to reverberate with energy, the air lilts with light-hearted laughter, people’s body language turns more relaxed and young, the old canals begin to shine with the lights from street-side shops, and more than one street-musician’s notes will be carried lovingly through the winds..
Having spent only one night in the city, I would love to go back once more. The next time with my folks, when the tulips are still in bloom..