幾年前去阿姆斯特丹，在火車站旁訂了一間沒星級的簡陋公寓，雙人房價才 35 歐羅一晚。今年重遊，巿內的住宿均由 150 歐羅起跳，而且很多都爆滿，一房難求。青年旅舍的床位價錢合理些，但兩公婆都步入早睡早起的年紀，要求有質素的睡眠，晚上不能吵吵鬧鬧。Airbnb 價格跟酒店相若，選擇不多，倒是非常高質素。最後我們決定住遠一點的 Bijlmermeer，反正近地鐵站，到巿中心才不過 20 分鐘，連 72 小時任用車票算在內，價錢亦較巿內住宿便宜一半。
雖然到 Coffeeshop 抽大麻及紅燈區以遊客居多，近年政府亦極力減少兩者的營運數目，希望塑造出陽光正面的旅遊城市，但荷蘭人有自知自明，沒有燈紅酒綠，就不再是阿姆斯特丹，要控制的是範圍和治安，而不是數目。
有當地朋友帶路，找 Coffeeshop 自然無問題，但新手來到，亦不用懊惱。在 Handboogstraat 的 Original Dampkring，曾經拍過電影 Ocean’s Twelve，頗受遊客歡迎，價錢貴一點，但「菜單」清晰明確，就連不同種類的大麻，留在頭髮的時間都標明。新手可以買已捲好的，方便快捷。若停留數天，買一克自己慢慢捲也是樂趣，抽到不適，點一杯鮮燈汁，馬上回神。但切記不要帶過境，即使是陸路過關，亦有警察上車搜查。
The world’s largest flower garden／Kimberlogic
The Netherlands is known for many things. A few images that come to mind when I hear Holland are windmills, canals, cheese, wooden shoes, but the first image that pops in my head is tulips. Anyone visiting the Netherlands in Spring can’t miss the chance to see the country’s most famous flower.
Tulips have become a symbol of Holland, but they are not originally from here. Tulips originated from the Tian Shin Mountains（天山）in China. In the 16th century they were brought to Constantinople for international trading. A pioneering botanist named Carolus Clusius did extensive studies about tulips and later wrote a book on the flowers which propelled their popularity throughout the Netherlands.
Sometime in the mid 17th century tulips hit their peak of popularity which created an economic bubble known as “Tulip Mania”. People began buying the bulbs at a rapid rate that they became so expensive. Bulbs were even looked at as a form of currency during this time. Even though “Tulip Mania” died down, the Dutch still love the flower. The rich, sandy soil of the Netherlands has ensured a place for these flowers to flourish.
One of the best places to see these colorful flowers is at Keukenhof flower park, the world’s largest flower garden. Keukenhof was first opened in 1950 as an exhibition for flower suppliers to showcase their best bulbs. The park is over 32 hectares in area with over 7 million flowers.
Flower suppliers ensure their bulbs are delivered to the park in Autumn and then they work with landscape architects to design the beautiful displays. These displays are found throughout the park and are designed based on colors, height and flowering times.
Since flowers are a Spring-time treat, Keukenhof is only open to the public for eight weeks each year. The park opens from mid-March to mid-May and sees around 1 million visitors from all over the world each year.
Keukenhof is located in the town of Lisse. Lisse is only about 30 minutes from Amsterdam, giving tourists an opportunity to see these flowers in their glory without going too far out of their way. Getting to Keukenhof on your own is a little tricky, but if you buy your entrance tickets online, you have the option to include a direct bus ride from the airport to the flower park. Also, buying your tickets online lets you skip the queue at the park.
Unfortunately for us, the day we decided to visit Keukenhof was extremely cold and overcast. Since we only had one day, we put on warm clothes and braved the elements. It was a gorgeous sight and the flowers smelled heavenly. Well worth a little cold for a few hours.
The flower park was remarkable, but my favorite part of the day was after we left the park. At the parking entrance to the park is a bicycle rental shop. Here, we rented bikes for the afternoon and rode around to the flower fields. The fields are enormous and so vibrant, even on a cold, rainy day. Although we were about a week too early for the tulip fields to bloom, there were so many other flower fields at their peak that it made for an excellent day that filled our senses.