Each year, from March to May, the Dutch countryside becomes a sea of tulips, hyacinths and all manner of other flowers. Mere photos can only give a hint of the pure explosion of colour and scent all around. Amsterdam's bulb belt stretches for thirty miles from Haarlem, just outside the capital, to Leiden. Known as Bloembollenstreek – bloem is bloom or blossom, bollen is bulbs, and streek is region – it's a low land area close to the North Sea coast with a sandy soil and mild wet climate that makes it ideal for bulb cultivation.
The best way to view the sights is to rent a bike and cycle, maybe along the trail that links Oude Wetering and Gouda, or the one from Gouda to Willemstad where there is the attraction of the traditional Dutch windmills to add to the picture-perfection of the views. There's the chance to attend the biggest flower auction in the world at Aalsmer, or visit the Keukenhof gardens and have your breath taken away by the spectacle produced by over seven million flowering bulbs. “Get on you bike” never sounded such fun!
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