One thing you discover quite fast about Amsterdam is that, like most major cities, it is an island with an identity of its own, quite different from the rest of the country. London is like this, as is New York and even Johannesburg.
Since moving to Amsterdam I am, in the perception of anyone who bothers to ask, clearly spending all my time in coffee shops and the red light district. And while it is true I have been in the red light district this is more because of the architecture, a great proeflokaal and cafés where they serve actual coffee!
Truth is, when you live here, Amsterdam is not the wild party place most perceive, neither is it a liberal hotbed of free sex, drugs and liberal expression. In fact most residents are sober minded, a bit wary of the red light district and in general: reserved.
So damn, it, this post is about FLOWERS! (The other thing the Netherlands as a whole is renowned for!)
I was lucky enough to be invited on a 3 day press tour by Amsterdam Marketing last week, which was nothing short of amazing. While those who know me well know that I am a keen gardener, that is not to say I am wild about flowers or know a lot about the subject. But this tour was fascinating.
We visited some historic sites within Amsterdam, namely the Artis Royal Zoo… which has a surprising and rich emphasis on flowers, The Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, the 375 year old botanical garden nestled away in the heart of the city and a tour through the ecological gardens of Huis Frankendel in the east of the city.
When you think a flower tour in the Netherlands, wandering the city certainly isn’t top of mind, but turns out, well, you can do that too. The next day got more surprising with an early morning visit to the largest flower auction in the world, Flora Holland where literally millions of cut flowers and potted plants are traded every year. I shot this little video to give you a small taste of the madness on the floor while it is working: These guys are ferrying flowers from the cool storage area to the designated collection points for buyers after sales have been completed…. This video is 40 seconds long. This activity goes on at this pace for 4 hours!
From there it was off to the legendary manicured landscaped and formal gardens of Keukenhof . It’s hard to describe this really, so I am just going to post some pics here!
This was followed by a leisurely bike ride through rolling Tulip fields, drinks on the beach and lunch alongside a lake at the Vork and Mes Restaurant…
By now you have probably figured out why my blog was a bit quiet last week… I was out having way too much fun! Even if you are not a flower fundi I can recommend all of these activities when you come to the Netherlands. Firstly it takes you out of Amsterdam for a bit and lets you experience a real portion of the country but secondly, its just bloody amazing!