The Netherlands ~ Keukenhof

Last post about the trip peeps, more than 1 month since I actually came back from my trip. I feel kinda sad because there's a finality that comes with writing this last post, like it's really over. But it's been over since long ago. I guess I was just in denial and kinda tried to extend those memories and the warm and fuzzy feeling and that feeling of being so thankful and blessed for being alive just because I saw something breathtaking. Anyway, let's start with this last post.

I took KLM for my flight back to Singapore. KLM doesn't have any direct flight from Italy to Singapore. I had the option of having a stopover in Paris or Amsterdam and I chose Amsterdam. I chose quite a long stopover because I wanted to visit the Keukenhof garden. I could have chosen the earliest flight out of Rome but I didn't, thinking I would have enough time. My flight was supposed to arrive in Amsterdam at 1.05 pm and the flight to Singapore was at 9 pm. It seemed like I would have enough time but as the day approached, I did have my worry about it. I was thinking what if it took a long time from landing to actually getting out of the airport and I was wondering if there'll be an immigration check. I remembered asking Copper about it and we both kinda thought that there shouldn't be any immigration check because flight between EU countries should just be treated as a domestic flight. We were right :)

I knew I had to get out of the airport but stupid me, for some reason as I walked towards the exit, it didn't occur to me to really get out until I really exit the airport. When I asked where the bus terminal is, I was told to get out of the aiport *duh!* Well, I'd never really got out of the airport without having to go through immigration check or wait for my luggage, so this very liberating way of exiting an airport felt a bit unusual and unnatural for me that I was feeling unsure :P Anyway, if you go to Keukenhof's website, one of the suggested way to go there is by going to Schiphol airport and take the shuttle bus from there. From the web you can book the ticket to enter the garden that includes the return shuttle bus tickets, at 21€. I did just that and it was so easy to find the bus terminal. It's just outside the airport. I had no difficulty finding the bus. They ran every 15 minutes or so and when I reached there, the bus just arrived and so I didn't waste any time at all :) It took around 35 minutes or so to reach Keukenhof and seeing The Netherland's open landscape was pretty interesting. Oh yeah, I just remembered something. One of the plane's runway in Schiphol was actually an overhead runway with quite a busy road underneath it. It was actually kinda freaky for me. It was so unusual but I guess they're used to it, so it was nothing strange for the people there. Well it was a first time for me :P

Back to Keukenhof, I arrived easily. I've kinda been in The Netherlands before. On my Italian trip 2 years ago, I also had a stopover in Schiphol and one thing that I realized there was they everyone speaks English fluently. So I wasn't so nervous about not being able to speak Dutch :) So anyway there I was. The stupid me didn't even think of getting a map. I just started to walk, following the paths and the flowers. It's very cold there. It was strange coming from Italy which was a bit hot. I didn't expect it to be that cold because I was in Paris 2 weeks before and it wasn't that cold but I guess it happened to be a rather cloudy day in The Netherlands that day and the garden has a lot of trees, so it was colder than usual. I kinda couldn't take the cold much. I think I was a bit under dressed. So I went indoor every chance I got. There was an flower arrangement exhibition which was awesome. The lady doing the demonstration was doing it in English and Dutch. I didn't really watch her demonstration. All the flower arrangements there were really beautiful. There were flowers I hadn't seen before. Then there was also a lily exhibition which was so interesting for me because when you walked in, the area smelled amazing!!! I didn't know that lily could smell that nice which was stupid of me since they use lilies to make parfume. It was quite a big area filled with all kind of lilies, very big lilies, so the whole air was filled with their sweet smell. I kinda didn't want to leave because the smell was really comforting and it relaxed me. I had a hot chocolate drink here. The girl serving me was pretty sweet. I wanted to use up all my coins but I didn't have enough coins to pay for the drink :( So when she gave me coins as the chance, she was telling me sympathetically that now I had more coins. We laughed about it :P

I tried my best to explore the garden. There was a small zoo with a pony like horses but I don't think they were ponies or horses. I saw pigs, sheeps. There was a bird show. There were some fountains and ponds. There were many ducks and swans in the ponds and fountains. I kinda expected to meet some Indonesians there and I was just waiting to hear some Indonesians which I eventually did. There were 3 of them and I asked if they could take my picture. One of them kindly helped me. He was friendly, while the other 2 weren't so. On another occassion, I asked some Italians to help me take my picture. A realization came to me that I could actually ask people in 4 languages now and I should make use of that. Anyway, since it was cold, I have to admit, it was hard for me to keep on exploring the garden. When I wanted to leave, I saw there's a map of the garden and there's a windmill there. However I didn't want to risk going there because I didn't know how far it was and I am prone to get lost and missing my flight back to Singapore would have been catastrophic. A pity but perhaps this is a call to come to Keukenhof again one day :) So tulips being the attraction of the garden, here's a picture of some red tulips.

The garden is really really big. If the weather had been nicer, it would make exploring it so much more comfortable. As luck would have it, as I was about to leave, the cloud started to part and the sun shone through.

So that's Keukenhof. More pictures can be viewed here. I took the shuttle back and arrived in Schiphol with enough time for me to eat before my next flight. I kinda still remembered the place pretty well from my previous transit. I ate at the same place 2 years ago. I was still missing Italy so much so I chose to have pizza. I chose a set which came with a soft drink. The guy was showing me the cup for the drink and I gasped and commented it was so big. This made the man next to me laugh at my reaction. It took me by surprise and I continued with saying, I'm gonna get diabetes, and that made him laugh harder, the waiter too :D I love that, being able to make him laugh :D He just said, it's okay, you're young. If only they knew I wasn't that young. As I went to the cashier to pay, I saw the name tag for the cashier. It's an Indonesian name. Widjaja, I think. So I told her that there was no ice in Indonesian. This got us talking. I asked if she's been there long. Well it's been around 40 years for her and so she's already a Dutch citizen. I told her I live in Singapore. She was so eager to hear my opinion if living in Singapore was better. Hmm ... people who know me knows I would never say (or be able to say), I love Singapore. I'm here because being here allows me to fund certain things that I want to do than if I'm in Indonesia. So as much as I often feel sad with the loneliness, the part where I feel I don't belong, I just have to swallow all that in and be strong about it. Well anyway, as I left the cashier, she said, "selamat makan sayang!", which means "bon appetit darling". That really made me feel so happy. Warm and fuzzy to be more exact :) I really feel thankful to God for all the kindness that strangers show me. Another thing to comment was that the security check at the gate was daunting. We had to go through this machine which I believed scan our body. If the scan showed anything out of the ordinary, we got a pat down by the officers. Lucky me, I got the pat down. It was by a female officer but still it felt weird. Nothing much can be said about the flight. As mentioned in a previous post, I sat next to a French girl from Nice who's travelling to Bali alone. I hope she had a splendid time in Bali. I tried to sleep in the plane. I think I only watched 1 movie, which was an Italian movie, Baciami Ancora. My classmates and me actually watched the first movie of that sequel in class but we didn't watch it in its entirety so I felt kinda sad not having watched the first movie.

I guess I was really missing Italy and I still do now. Out of the 3 countries which I visited in this trip, Italy is still first on the list. I guess first love really never dies? Then it's Spain and then it's France. I don't know why France didn't really capture my heart much. I guess I just love the warm Southern Europe more :P I also think I can eat better and have less problem choosing what to eat in Italy and Spain. Another thing about France, despite of Paris being a typical big city with a lot of hustle and bustle, I actually love this city the most out of all the places I saw in France. This is despite of the more charming life in Provence. Still, overall, I just didn't feel connected with France the way I do with Italy. Maybe if I can speak french better then I'll feel differently but I don't know it I will ever be.

Anyway, I kinda finished sorting out the pictures. I have even added a set in Flickr with pictures I took from the road. My next project is actually going through the pictures again and picking out the ones which aren't featured in any of the set and turn them into black and white. I think they're gonna be awesome :) There are lots of them though :( I also need to photomerge some of the pictures which I planned to photomerge. Still so many things to do I guess. So still a few memories to relive and to make me smile. It's late, so I better stop now. Buonanotte tutti!

:) eKa @ 10:44:00 PM •

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