Tulips + Speculoos + Wine = Gezellig weekend

After two relatively quiet weekends I was ecstatic to have my three buddies C, K and P visit me in my little old city of Den Haag. It was probably the shortest turn around since we had last seen each other but it didn’t make our time together any less special and like every other time we’ve been together – I didn’t stop laughing the entire time they were here.

C arrived into Den Haag around 10:30pm. After some initial confusion of being at the wrong station we finally found each other and promptly headed to the Grote Markt for a sneaky drink. We were joined by some of my au pair friends and as everyone got acquainted with C it made me appreciate the simplicity of introducing a new person into an already well-oiled group. Having the job of au pair as a common theme, conversation flowed easily and hilarious stories were shared as we compared our day to day lives. Several drinks later, midnight struck and C and I decided it was time to head home. We had planned a big day tomorrow and needed shut-eye though this wasn’t before devouring some honey ribs leftover from dinner and watching a few episodes of ‘The Inbetweeners’.

The next morning we woke and got ready for the day ahead. C was unaware of K and P were coming to town and despite my lack of being sneaky, so far I had managed to not blurt it out. We met with my friend IB and headed into the centre to “meet somebody”. My level of stealthiness doesn’t even make the radar, so I’m pretty sure C had worked out what was going on but pretended to be oblivious, making the surprise extra special. The five of us made a neat little group and we were ready for the days adventure – visiting the worlds largest flower gardens, the Keukenhof. Before we made the voyage to the town of Lisse, where the Keukenhof is situated, we grabbed some picnic supplies from the Albert Heijn and made the unanimous vote that lunchtime was a perfectly acceptable time to start drinking, therefore going all out for the occasion and buying some Australian made Jacob’s Creek wine. A train and a bus ride later we were at the gates of the Keukenhof, ready to get our flower power on.

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The Keukenhof has a rich history dating back to the 15th century where it was a part of the estate of Jacoba van Beieren. The aptly named Keukenhof – which is Dutch for ‘kitchen courtyard’ was source of herbs for the castle. In 1857, the castle gardens were re-designed by landscape architects Jan David Zocher and his son Louis Paul Zocher. The English landscape style still remains the basis of the Keukenhof to this day. I have never been much of a garden enthusiast – despite all my grandmas efforts – but the elaborate and colourful gardens featuring approximately 7 million bulbs captured my attention and my previously benign gardening genes started to fire up. We hadn’t walked twenty metres into the park and I was already overwhelmed by not only the vast array of flora on display, but the detailed upkeep of the place – not a weed or tulip out of place!

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Before we delved further into the park, our grumbling stomachs indicated their need for food so we found a spare bit of grass to lay out our picnic. Cheeses, bread, wine, carrots, hummus and deli meats made up of savoury portion of the picnic but the best part was our dessert of pancakes, strawberries, bananas and Speculoos. A pancake burrito filled with the crunchy, gingerbread spread of Speculoos, topped with sliced strawberries and bananas were the ultimate treat and gave us a serious sugar rush to explore the garden. We consulted the map but kept getting distracted by the tulips, daisies, daffodils and various other flowers whose vivid colours were amplified by the brightness of the sun. The Keukenhof has different themes each year and this years theme of ‘Holland’ was distinctively Dutch. This theme accentuates the most famous export of the Netherlands – the tulip. The highlight of this years theme was the 60,000 flower bulb mosaic displaying an Amsterdam canal scene, symbolising the tulip mania during the Golden Age.

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We worked on our photography skills – each of us trying to outdo each other with the most ‘arty’ photo. And took typically touristy photos amongst the bulbs. Before we knew it, it was reaching late afternoon and our flower power was starting to wear thin. We laid in the grass for awhile, finishing the wine and relaxing in the sun and then decided it was time to head home for a rest before getting a dose of Den Haag nightlife.

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K and P headed back to their little apartment they rented for the night and C, IB and me headed back to home in Scheveningen, . We chilled out for an hour or so before getting ready to go back into the centre of the city for some drinks. We met up with K and P in their apartment and were joined by some of my au pair buddies, N and E where we listened to my ‘white girl thug’ music and played drinking games until we were a bit too silly to function. The night only escalated from there and was a blur of more drinks, meeting up with more friends, dancing on bars and chowing down on frites with lekker garlic sauce before passing out in K and P’s apartment.

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We woke the next morning after a short four hour sleep with slightly sore heads and cleaned up the apartment in time for 10am checkout. Breakfast was at the hipster cafe, Hometown and then we caught the tram back to my abode, ready to sloth it out for several hours. Even though our Sunday was totally unproductive, it was so nice to be around my pals and just relax. K and P headed off to Amsterdam in the late afternoon and C and I kept on slothing until the following morning – only stopping to plan a Paris trip in June, and pick up more carrots and hummus.

Like always, I was sad to see my friends off and fall back into daily au pair routine. Though April is looking particularly busy and exciting so I am eager for the days to go faster so more fun could be had.

From the girl who single-handlely started a Speculoos revolution amongst my Aussie/American pals.

J. x

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