Day 1 - Keukenhof

pack yourself a toothbrush dear
pack yourself a favorite blouse
take a withdrawal slip
take all of your savings out
'cause if we don't leave this town
we might never make it out
I was not born to drown
baby come on

Sleep on the Floor - The Lumineers

I think that song above is more suitable to mark the day I really leave Singapore. I found this song by chance when I was preparing the playlist for my yearly pilgrimage to see the world. I particularly like the line baby, come on. Anyways, I just came back a few days ago from a trip to Austria, Switzerland, and The Netherlands. They are actually not my first choice. I had bigger plan in mind, something that's really on the life list, but then I chickened out and couldn't get myself there. I am disappointed at myself. If I had done it, it would have been awesome and amazing. It would have been the longest journey I make to get somewhere, but in the end the fear get the better of me. I tried to bribe myself with business class seats on the flights, but then I rationalized that with the business class cost, it's just too costly. This trip to Europe is cheaper by a few thousands Singapore dollars. So I thought this trip would be better and more logical. That doesn't mean I wasn't freaking out and afraid though. I truly was, really. I wish I can stop being afraid, but I'm always afraid before each trip. Perhaps that's also what makes me feel so thankful to God in the end. Though I have to admit, at the end of this trip that thankful feeling to God didn't come up as naturally strong as it should, but if I think about the many times God pulled me through (which you will learn in the coming posts) then my gratitude to God is really immense. I had no one but Him and He really took care of me as He has done in all my trips. I pray that He will continue to do so in my daily life despite of my many transgressions.

So anyways, been back for a few days now and things had been going awful. I was feeling sick the last 2 days of my trip and it continued on 'til now. I had to see Dr. Edmond the day after I got back. Got antibiotics which I finished today, but I don't feel 100% yet. My last leg of the trip was in The Netherlands and in the last few days, I was thinking that I was kinda ready to get back (maybe my unremarkable hotel room helped spur this feeling). However I'm totally not ready to come back to real life and it's been hitting me rather hard. Currently I have to deal with a situation which makes me question if I'm being stubborn or logical. The only good news that kinda made me happy since I came back was finding out that I get to pay less tax this year. Giving donation really helps. I think I will do more this year. Yeah, my reason to give donation is not noble at all, that's how bad I am. Okay, let's just talk about the trip.

I left Singapore on the 11th, just after midnight. Flight was full and I didn't have a good time. Many french in the flight and I wondered why they just didn't take Air France. I tried to get some sleep because I was planning a long transit time. I planned around 9 hours of transit time in Amsterdam before my flight to Vienna. The reason for the long transit time is because I wanted to visit Keukenhof. I didn't have difficulty in the immigration which was good news. I'll never forget the first time I stepped foot in Schiphol. I was so young then and knew nothing about the world, so so green. By the way, back in Singapore I seemed to be getting a lot of checks before getting on the flight. The officer in the gate even took a picture of my passport *sigh* Anyways, got out of the airport. Some things were kinda familiar and so I just went out into the area where I took the bus the last time I went to Keukenhof in 2011. That was 6 years ago ladies and gentlemen and like moronic contestants who didn't read their clue thoroughly in The Amazing Race, I didn't read the instruction in my booking thoroughly that I spent more than 30 minutes to finally find where the buses were. I had to ask 2 different people. Luckily people in The Netherlands generally speak English, in fact I have never met anyone who couldn't. The buses were full, but the frequency was good. Arriving in the park, I was surprised to see the new (at least for me) big entrance. It looked so professional now, not so quaint like the last time I was there. There are big spaces for parking too and seeing all that is not very charming. After entering the garden, there's a big flower bed with many tulips. I spotted free maps in the baskets and I got myself one.

Since the last time I was there, I didn't go to the windmill, I made my way there first. Apparently from here you can see the tulip fields outside the garden. The reason I planned a long transit time is to give me enough time to explore the garden as well as maybe cycle around the tulip fields. Well when I saw the tulip fields, they're pretty much empty. So that plan didn't work. The correct term is that the tulips in the field had been headed. The farmer needed to collect the bulbs for future growing hence the flowers had been removed. In this trip, I learned that the bulbs are put in a net and machine were used to plant them so it's pretty automatic. Heading the fields for the bulbs is also done using machines. Another thing I learned is that there's no black tulips, only tulips with very deep purple colour.

Seriously the best time to visit Keukenhof is like the last 2 weeks of April. A timing that I could actually make, but then I thought I should be responsible with life and so I didn't. I was also factoring my period, but they screwed me up. Going on the trip earlier would have been actually better for me, but well we have to make do with what we have. Weather wise it wasn't so cold. I was worried that I didn't bring enough, but my sweater coat was enough. In fact it got warmer as the day went. As usual, there are flowers exhibitions in the pavilions. In the Beatrix Pavilion, there's an orchid exhibition. Saw this orchid with very unique coloring. Never saw anything like it before.

There's also an exhibition with a lot of lilies where I also saw lilies with different colors in the petals. I don't know if they're painted or just grew that way. You can see the picture in here. This below is kinda a nice display.

I tried to find if I can remember the places from my last visit. Sometime I did remember a few things, like the fountain, pond, chess pieces, but overall the feeling I had was different. I think there's just so much more love that I felt the last time I visited it, which was also my first time. Perhaps it's because it's that feeling of achieving something that you really wanted or perhaps because the first time will always be the special one. This time around I just didn't feel particularly connected. There were new discoveries like the maze or little pocket of what felt like a small forest and the view were still beautiful, but I think I'm done with Keukenhof. Yes, I didn't get to cycle the tulip fields again this time around, but I think I wouldn't make much of an effort to visit it again. If somehow I get to transit in Amsterdam at the right time, maybe I'll make my way there again, but it's not something that I'm chasing anymore.


Before I left, I found the old entrance. Recognized it by the dandelion fountain and the music machine. Well it was the music from that machine that drew me there. Keukenhof is a really special garden, do visit it people if you have the chance. All and all I spent quite a long time there. Had lunch, even ice cream too. For pictures, please go here.

Then I made my way back to the airport for my flight. Was really tired when I arrived in Vienna, but I still needed to be alert to figure out how to get to the hotel. There are 2 trains that you can take from Vienna airport to city center, the cheaper one which takes like 26 minutes and the more expensive one which takes like 16 minutes. Found the machine for the cheaper one but when I saw my watch I thought I only had 5 minutes to make it to the platform and I was worried that I couldn't make it, so I didn't take that one and opted for the more expensive one. I should have gotten the cheaper one because it still hadn't left yet when I reached the platform and I would have arrived sooner. Oh well. I arrived at Wien Mitte station and had to change to the underground train. Thankfully in the more expensive machine, there's also option to get ticket for the underground train and also luckily it wasn't crowded so me lugging my luggage was not a problem for me or other people. Managed to find my hotel without any problem and I like my hotel room, it's the best one in this trip. I promptly got myself to bed because I had an early start the next day. That's a story for the next post.

:) eKa @ 9:28:00 PM •

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