It has been one of my bucket lists to bike around the tulip fields in Netherlands and it came true!
Early in the morning, we walked out in search for breakfast…urg nothing really opens this early in the morning. However, there was a local market being set up right in the center street of the town in Lisse. We browsed through few tents where we bought a €3 Duffy bag to hand carry our souvenirs and a €10 beautiful blue shawl/wrap. It was fun to shop like the locals.
With really nothing opens for breakfast, we searched for bakeries nearby and found Vermeer Patisserie & Chocolaterie. Look at the selections of cakes and desserts, they are too pretty to eat!
We bought a few difference ones to try out, our breakfast:
I couldn’t believe that €3,25 for that tiramisu including the cute glass jar! And it tasted so good, almost as good as the ones we had in Italy!
I was joking with my friend, Sokunna who was at home but will be joining us in Morocco, that she has been looking for glass cups with cover for her desserts and this would be perfect for that purpose! The joked turned to be real LOL that I went back to buy another 2 tiramisu just for the jars for her!
After the dessert breakfast, we walked over to Keukenhof in order to rent a bike but it was so confusing to locate the bike rental office. After asking for directions, we finally found it, it was actually a small little building on one of the entrances of the park, not the entrance where you walk from Lisse to Keukenhof where the bus from the airport drops you off. If you are facing in front of the ticket office, the bus station should be on your left side, the bike rental office is behind you….all the way up at the entrance passing through the parking lot. We finally found it, it is called Rent-a-Bike van Dam, website here: http://www.rentabikevandam-keukenhof.com/en/
We rented the tandem bike for €25 (cost per day), it was our first time riding on a tandem bike! It has been at least 15+ years since we last rode a bike so it took some time to get used to the bike. The seating was so hard oh gosh and it moves!
Being one of the most bike-friendly countries, they set up three different biking routes to enjoy the flower fields, we chose Route 2 – a 15 km (9.3 miles) loop which estimated to be 1-2 hours; we had the morning there and will need to head back to Amsterdam in the afternoon. The biking routes can be found here: http://www.rentabikevandam-keukenhof.com/assets/documents/rent-a-bike-van-dam-route-keukenhof-2017-1-7.pdf
Off we go…..the first few seconds were actually scary since I never rode a bike with Jason so it took time to be in sync with him haha! We paddled for 5 minutes through paths filled with trees but no tulips hum…..then, we finally saw some bright red colors in distance! Yay, finally tulip fields!!!! We “pulled over” like other visitors did and then walked a short distance down to the field. We were aware that those tulip fields are privately owned so we respect the rule of no stepping or picking the tulips. We made sure we found a large enough empty spot to safely walk into just a little bit in the field for photos. OMG, my dream of surrounded by the field of tulips came true! The weather wasn’t good at all, it was very cloudy that day so no sunlight, the photos could’ve been better! It brought back memories of 2 years ago we visited Provence, France to see the lavender fields! The weather then was much nicer as it was in the middle of summer so almost guaranteed sunny and very hot! Tulips, on the other hand, bloom in spring so the weather is not too stable and it was cold! However, it was still worth the cold for photos like this!
And a selfie!
We continued on with the biking route and net we passed another field of white and purple tulips…my purple! But that field was not accessible, separated by a river so we couldn’t get int. Moving on….
Then, a field of Hyacinths and daffodils!
And more orange-red colored tulips.During our ride, we passed by a bride who was in a horse carriage, I guess heading to the groom? It was such like a fairy-tale! Jason handed me his cell phone and I quickly took a snap and congratulate her. It was more than second time in our vacations that we bumped into a wedding, the last one I remembered was in Porto, Portugal.
We stopped at another Hyacinth field where it was just one color – my favorite pink! It looked so pretty!!!There were dogs from far away watching us so we didn’t want to get near the field…photos from the side still look pretty!
Where’s my purple tulip field? Finally, we passed by one! Once again, the field was separated by the river so we couldn’t get down but it was still nice to see the colors from above!
We rode through more countryside and villages and found this enormous field of Hyacinth and tulips. My two favorite colors – pink and purple right next to each other, oh my!!!
Our bike hahaha!
Next to the Hyacinth were the orange-yellow-red shaded tulips:
Then, more pink tulips….we spent at least 20 minutes in this field alone to take photos!
We enjoyed taking our own pace riding the bike and stopping whenever we want, it was so much fun although, after an hour or so, our butts hurt by the uncomfortable seats! Another field where they have different shades of purple OMG, I wish we could go down closer for photos but couldn’t 🙁
It looked so pretty the shades of purple!
Another field where they are harvesting the tulips….it was interesting to see the manual harvesting 🙂
One difference between the tulip fields and lavender fields were the colors! Lavender would be just purple (which I don’t mind at all since it is my favorite color). If you want colorful flower fields then without doubt tulip fields! Another difference is the smell….tulips have almost no fragrance so unlike the lavender fields where the moment you stepped out of your car, you’ll smell lavender in the air!
We passed by a house with this beautiful cherry blossom tree in full bloom!
More colorful tulip fields, it was like a dream!!!
When we were near back to Keukenhof, we saw this field of light purple tulips….I love this shade of light purple!
Another field of bright pink tulips, those were beautiful too!
We took more than 3 hours with stops and enjoyed every moment of it, except for our butts, ouch LOL! We returned the bike and walked back to Lisse town. On the way, we saw a nest right in the middle of the river!
Let’s keep moving, I was starving by then! After last night’s dim sum/sushi “all you can eat” in Dragon Town, we wanted to try out another one – a chain restaurant with similar concept of unlimited (limited 6 rounds) orders. We headed to Itoshii. Itoshii is a Japanese restaurant and doesn’t offer dim sum like Dragon Town. We were handed a tablet with menu to directly order on the tablet and it kept track of the number of rounds and the number of dishes you can order max per round so it was very self-explanatory.
The food came out so quick after we placed the order on the tablet. Our lunch:
Food-wise, it was good and good value for the money – €47.03 for both of us and added tips to make it even €50. We thought Dragon Town was better even a slightly more expensive but the ingredients they were using were higher quality and varieties of Chinese dim sum as well. The mango roll was much better in Dragon Town! We wished we have something like this back home!
After lunch, we went back to the hotel to get our luggage and walked to the bus station…we took the local bus 361 back to Amsterdam airport. From the airport, we took the train from the airport to Amsterdam Station Zuid instead of the Central Station because it was easier to navigate according to someone in TripAdvisor. We were glad to choose Zuid because it was very straight forward and not as busy. We switched to metro to station Weesperplein and from the station, it was a short walk to the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam where we stayed 2 nights with IHG points (it was such a good use of points at 50,000 points per night versus over €500 for our room because of the high season). We booked in advance to secure the room as I know the tulip season rooms do sell out months ahead. I only was able to secure 2 nights that was why we stayed at Lisse the first night but glad we did since we saw much more right near the tulip town!
The InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam is one of the top luxury hotels in Amsterdam and in the IHG chain, it was very grand and did not disappoint!
Our room was huge even by American standard! Finally, a big room after the crowded small rooms in Switzerland and Lisse!
We didn’t get an upgrade as Platinum members because the hotel was fully booked. Also, they were having renovation going on so the view from the window was covered by the scaffold. It wasn’t an issue with us but for someone who paid out of pocket €500 per night might be 😉
We rested a little bit and headed out for shopping and dinner where we took the metro to Nieuwmarkt (New Market). Walking in Amsterdam felt so dangerous!!! I remembered the last time I felt scared of crossing the street was in China! It was the same feeling…..but not afraid of getting run over by cars, instead, run over by bikes! OMG those bikes do not stop for pedestrians, seriously, I thought pedestrians always have the priority…nope, not in Amsterdam! The bikes will just ring their annoying bells to tell you to move out of their way instead of stopping for you, for real! In order to cross a street, you’ll first need to cross the bike lane and then the motor lanes, oh my gosh, it was scary!
This bike got a ticket for a parking violation? LOL!
We got out of Nieuwmarkt and walked toward the Royal Palace and it was super crowded! After Switzerland and small town, I suddenly felt not used to the crowds. There was a huge Ferris wheel right in the center of the square and other carnival rides. It was so loud with people screaming, not a place I want to be vacation in!
Anyways, the main purpose of going there was to shop at Jason’s favorite European clothing store – The Sting! Two years ago when we went to London, we shopped at The Sting store there and Jason, as well as my brother, loved their design and fabric quality ever since. Shopping time!
We spent more than an hour there haha, I was literally having “online shopping” with my brother. I took a pic of each section to send to him and the pick out the ones he wants to see in closer details and did shopping that way. Both Jason and my brother brought some tops! After The Sting, we headed toward Oriental City for dinner. We made a few stops at souvenir stores where we saw the wooden tulips again. We felt that the ones we bought in Keukenhof were better quality haha. Jason saw a beautiful glass tulip vase perfect for the tulips we bought but they don’t have the light pink color that he wants 🙁
Oriental City is a three-story Chinese restaurant near the Red Light District and it was filled with Chinese tourists and locals. We were seated up at the 3rd floor and the waiter who served us was Cantonese. The windowsill offered great views of the classical narrow Amsterdam houses and decorated with colorful orchids.
Their table mat was a painting of ancient China costumes, it looked nice!
We ordered mushroom stir-fried with beef (Amsterdam has good quality beef) and a Szechuan “water-boil” fish. The fish was a whole fish; not frozen filet!
Being a Cantonese restaurant, the Szechuan dish wasn’t as great but pretty good. The dinner cost €50 and it was pretty good, at least better than in Boston! We chatted a little bit with the Cantonese waiter, he warned us to keep an eye on our valuables due to the increase of refugees. He said that see those guys sitting down on the street, they are the refugees who have no job but hunting for the next victim. So what they had done was if they see someone who sat on a table and placed his/her handbag on the windowsill and when the next table was free, they’ll pretend to be a guest and come in the restaurant to sit at that empty table. Then, they quickly took the handbag and ran away! It happened recently too! The waiter who has been a resident in Amsterdam for so many years felt the city become unsafe due to the increase of refugees. It was a sad story and we felt it too; I was holding on tight to my purse walking down the crowded street and felt like some people were eyeing on us! After dinner, we took a quick walk to the infamous Red Light District which was nearby. I told Jason no photos allowed so don’t attempt 😛 It was just the start of the night so many windows were not “open” yet. We walked past by a few windows and the prostitutes in there were not naked like I expected from reading articles, they were wearing their bras and undies haha! Alright, we saw the Red Light District so we can claim that we have been to Amsterdam 😀