Gardener's Paradise

The Netherlands, Belgium

 keukenhof gardens, Netherlands

I’ve been thinking about what I can do to update my landscaping this year.  Of course, no matter what I do my landscaping will never compare to the most famous gardens in the world, one the best of which is Keukenhof (aka The Garden of Europe) southwest of Amsterdam.

The name Keukenhof translates as “the kitchen garden” because that’s exactly what this area was back in the 1400’s when the Baroness of Hainaut used it for her hunting grounds and herb garden.

In 1949 the mayor of Lisse established the gardens so flower growers from all over Europe could show the world their gorgeous hybrids.  Today the gardens cover 80 acres of beautifully arranged floral displays where over 7 million tulip bulbs are planted annually.  Open from late March to mid-May Keukenhof is a perfect bucket list item for nature enthusiasts. 

Keukenhof is a featured stop along the way on a wide variety of European tours.  Many river cruise itineraries offer a day here, as do several escorted land tour packages.  With wonderful public transportation across the Netherlands and Belgium it’s also a great place to travel independently.

Most tours that include Keukenhof also include Amsterdam.  As you know if you’ve been following my blog, I am a huge fan of Amsterdam.  Did you know Amsterdam has the highest museum density in Europe?  Don’t miss the Rijkmuseum featuring the Dutch Masters if you only have time to see one.

Delft is another wonderful city located near Amsterdam that tourists love.  It’s famous for its’ picturesque canals, architecture and that beautiful Delft porcelain we’ve all come to know and love.  Every piece of Delft pottery is still painted by hand, making it a wonderful souvenir from your trip.

Belgium is the small country (about the size of Maryland) south of the Netherlands.  Known for great beers, chocolate and waffles, as well as an intriguing history and gorgeous architecture, Belgium should be on every bucket list.

Before I forget to mention it, Belgium is also known for the best fries in the world.  They are not called French Fries here, obviously, they are called Flemish Fries and they are eaten with mayonnaise. 

Bruge is one of the most gorgeous cities in Belgium, and also one of the oldest.  The name “Bruge” is actually derived from a Viking word meaning “wharf”.  People in Bruge live life to the fullest.  Famous for the best chocolates in the world, locals buy theirs daily from local shops where they are lovingly made by hand.  Here too a canal cruise is not to be missed.

Brussels is probably more famous than Bruge.  It’s the Capital of the European Union and another stunningly beautiful city.  For a city with so many sophisticated sites, it’s amazing that one of the most famous tourist attractions in Brussels is a statue of a little boy urinating.  It’s called the Manneken Pis and countries from all across the globe have donated costumes for it. 

History buffs can use a trip to this area to investigate Waterloo, where Napoleon surrendered.  Perhaps take a few hours for a stop in Bastogne, where the Bastogne War Museum commemorates the Battle of the Bulge.  Luxembourg is another beautiful European capital full of history.  The view from the Grand Ducal Palace is said to be the most beautiful view in Europe.

I have a “tulip time” trip on my newest bucket list, do you?

Joy Gawf-Crutchfield owns and operates The Joy of Travel.  Contact Joy at 918-339-4805