Today’s guest poster is Ashley Howe, who runs Amsterdamblog.co.uk
If you want to get out of Amsterdam for the day, Floriade 2012 is the place to be. It’s a major horticultural exhibition which is running from April 5th to October 27th in a small town called Venlo (next to the border with Germany).
Floriade only comes around every ten years and is a major draw to an otherwise overlooked town in Holland.
The park covers 66 hectares, so we plotted a methodical route through the five themed areas of the park, starting with the Innovation and Education section.
I really enjoyed the`Huis van de smaak’ (in English, house of the taste) where you can try different foods from different producers (in particular tomatoes and mushrooms), and the bee garden complete with bees and a hive. The bees have somehow been electronically tagged and they track who comes in and out of the hive, having named each bee individually!
Walking in the woods we found a really great area crafted by The Willowman (real name Will Beckers). Here there are several different fantastic constructions: tunnels, hammocks and an area where children had contributed to his project with mini constructions and personal messages.
In the Relax and Heal section there are two Japanese gardens – the first had a pond full of fish which you could feed (for 20 cents you get a handful of fish food), and the other was a pond with a waterfall feature. After walking around over a hundred themed gardens, you start to realise that flip flops probably weren’t the best choice of footwear, so the Japanese gardens were definitely enough to make me forget my aching feet for a while.
We decided to pay €5 for the cable car ride when we booked our tickets online, and I’m so glad that we did – it saved us quite a bit of walking, and it gave us an overview of the whole park, especially because it was a really nice day.
My absolute favourite part of the park was in the Environment area in a place called `groenondernemers maken wonen natuurlijk’ – which literally translated means `green businessmen make living natural’.
They’ve created a kitchen that’s entirely impractical, but it looks fantastic. Plants grow everywhere – in drawers, saucepans, hanging on the wall and there’s a dining table covered in grass, nests and model birds.
For me, the biggest let-down of the show was the world stage exhibition – they had given the chance for countries around the world to showcase their garden designs (so I thought it would be the best part of the show) – and some of them were good – for example Indonesia’s garden, but most were just an excuse for shops selling trinkets from that particular country, which is not what I was expecting. I wished that we had spent more time in other sections of the show.
If you are staying in Amsterdam it is possible to do in a day. It takes two hours to get to Venlo by train and the best way to save money is to buy a combo ticket – which includes entry to the park, transport from Venlo train station to Floriade and your train ticket from Centraal or Amsterdam Sloterdijk.
To compare, a return train ticket on a Saturday costs €42ish, and the combo ticket for Floriade, bus journey and entry to the park is €40! For an extra €5 you can book your cable car ride from one end of the park to the other, which saves you one extra Euro. Get Floriade tickets at Floriade.com.
Food isn’t overly expensive – we paid €5 for a good sized panini, but if you want to save a bit of cash you can take your own food, and enjoy it one of the gardens or woods there where there are seating areas.
Take bottled water with you, so you don’t need to buy drinks while you’re there, a raincoat (just in case), sensible shoes, a camera and a lot of energy!
Find green space in the city – see What’s So Cool About Vondelpark in Amsterdam?
Author Bio: My name is Ashley, and I moved to Amsterdam in September 2011 after travelling around the world for five months. While I was travelling I blogged about my experiences abroad and when I settled down in Amsterdam I started to blog again. I wanted to share with you all of my experiences while discovering Holland, and help you to discover some of the great things about this country, so that if you’re visiting (or if you live here, and want to go somewhere different) you know all of the best things to do. Visit Amsterdam Blog, @amsterdam_blog and Amsterdam Blog on Facebook
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All images c. Ashley Howe