Amsterdam: A Day in the Life of Vondelpark

Apparently, the day after I left for Europe back at the end of May, it started to rain here in Miami and didn't stop until July 11. The weather dude says it rained for 37 out of 40 days! How depressing huh? Well, yesterday the sun finally came out for the entire day, instead of slinking away at noon to make room for thunder and rain like all previous days. Luckily, I was off galavanting through Europe
, so I didn't get to experience all 37 of those rainy days, but I did get to deal with the accumulation of water throughout the yard and massive mosquito problem upon my return! That's right, mosquitos are taking over Miami, especially with all this rain and the endless opportunities to procreate in all of the obscure puddled water that sits around unnoticed for periods of time. When you throw in the fact that the two main gardeners were gone most of those rainy days, well, that makes for a lot of maintenance to catch up on. First of all, it's amazing to see how much everything grows and changes when you don't look at it every single day. When you see it every day you can't see the changes, but when you go away for over a month and come back it's glaringly obvious! Wow! All of my succulents and cacti are monstrous, showing significant growth since I last saw them.  A lot of them are blooming, which always makes me happy.  

This weekend I went to Home Depot to get a few things and then spent most of my time with family or in the garden doing some maintenance.  All this rain means a lot of little weeds sprouting up in my planters, and exuberant growth that needs to be pruned.  I'll leave you with a tour of the beautiful and lush Vondel Park in Amsterdam.  I made it a point to spend more time in this park this trip around, I walked and biked the entire length of it with my brother on two different occasions, believe me it's really big and takes a while to walk through.  There are numerous secret paths and bridges that lead to hidden spots, playgrounds for kids (and adults too, haha), ponds, statues, lots of flowers, beautiful trees, birds singing in symphony, and let's not forget….people!  Gasp.  Yes, lots of Dutch people walking, biking, jogging, picnicking, playing frisbee, drinking, smoking, laughing, talking, listening to music, making out, sun bathing, and they were covering nearly every inch of the grass and walking/biking path!  It was so nice to see the park full of locals, enjoying nature and each other.  It felt great to mingle with them and experience the serene atmosphere under the canopy of towering trees.  This park is a must see on your trip to Amsterdam!

Take a look... :)

Wow, see what I mean?  It was a gorgeous day and the atmosphere in the park was ideal!

Do as the locals do, and so we did!

Vondel Park was opened in 1865, although it was originally called Nieuwe Park, but it was later renamed. This here is Joost van den Vondel, the person for whom the park was renamed, a prominent 17th century Dutch writer and playwright.


There are two other statues in this park, but I don't remember seeing them, one is from 1965 by Picasso called The Fish.  There's also an open air theatre and modern tea house!

An interesting thing that I learned about Vondel Park after returning for my trip (while researching a few things here and there for this blog post), was that it has to be repaired consistently throughout the years in order to reinforce land from the water that it naturally harbors after long periods of rain.  Parts of the park can flood, work has to be done to restore grass areas without removing water that is crucial to the habitats within the park and the structural security of surrounding buildings.  

Also, I was happy to see random playgrounds hidden away in different patches of trees.  Just now on Wikipedia, I happened to read that these playgrounds were built in the 1960's and 1970's during the "flower power era…the Vondelpark became a symbol of a place where 'everything is possible and (almost) everything is allowed'".  That paints a nice picture in your imagination, doesn't it?  Well let me tell you, the atmosphere in the park wasn't far off from that, it was very lively and full of lots of activity.  It seemed as though anything was allowed!

After a a bit of lounging in the sun, some clouds came along and we decided to take a walk and explore the many paths...

The trees you see here are Horse-Chestnut's, they are common and plentiful in Amsterdam and many other places that I visited throughout Europe.  I love the leaf formation and the little drooped canopies it forms.  I took photos with my iPhone on the first few days in Amsterdam, so these photos are not as crisp as I'd like, but they really do convey the beauty of this park...

This sight is still fresh in my mind!  The shadow of the trees on the water and the layering of foliage in the background have such visual appeal, it was enchanting.  I don't know what those lily pad looking bushes are, I've searched for them, but I can't seem to find many similar plant images, much less a name.  If anyone knows the name, please leave it in the comments, I'd really appreciate it!


I love this photo, it captures the moment perfectly:

This is the Great Blue Heron, the Netherlands is one of the few countries in Europe that have a rare scattering of these birds, along with England, Spain, and The Azores - an autonomous region of nine volcanic islands off the coast of Portugal.  Here in Florida we have the Great White Heron, also known as the Great Egret, which I call an Egret, which they are all white with a yellow beak.  I must say, the black (or dark blue?) bandana on this guy was striking in person, he was a calm photo subject too...  

There were plenty of paths like this, they seemed very crude, almost as if they had been forged by people wanting to make shortcuts and get to the other side of the trees faster.  Either way, they were great little departures from the main path, lots of birds chirping up in giant nests, transporting you to another world where it seems you are in the middle of the forest.

I saw this beautiful white flowering tree growing everywhere in Europe, it is especially prevalent along streets and in parks, but I also saw it growing wild along the train tracks in many parts.  While walking the streets, I could always tell they were around by the heavy aroma given off by the flowers, which was pleasant and unpleasant at times.  I did a quick search for the name and came up with Sambucus, also known as Elder or Elderberry Tree.  Really beautiful tree, I admired it a lot on my trip!  I have better photos from other places where I spotted it, like when I visited Washington D.C. shortly before I went on this trip, I saw it growing there in abundance.  It looks great when kept small, when it has lots of cascading umbrellas of grouped flowers, it looks so whimsical!

Lots of grasslands and flowers hanging out at the edge of various ponds and bridges...


I don't know the name of these orchid looking yellow flowers, but I saw them quite a bit! 

Pretty bushes full of pink and purple flowers everywhere along the two main walking and biking paths!


Bridges tucked away and ready to be discovered, to pause a moment and look at the ducks swimming and the reflection of the trees in the water.  This park has it all!


I fell in love with this giant tree, it made me regret not bring my good camera that day.  It was just so photogenic!  

And then there were the ducks! Lots of gorgeous ducks everywhere, even the cute little guys from my previous post on Amsterdam - the Meerkoet, a.k.a. Eurasian Coots.  Check out those big awesome white webbed paddlers, they make for a striking bird along with that white beach and face mask.  I wish we had some here in the canals of Miami!


Sweet little naked statue alone in the middle of a vivid circle of grass, she had a bit of bird poop on her forehead, but she's quite photogenic too don't you think?

I'm sure a stroll in the park wouldn't be complete without some roses eh?  At least not in Europe, where roses are a frequent sight...

We walked through a path that led us to a rose garden in a big clearing, it was full of little manicured hedged octagons with various types of roses growing inside...

I was fascinated by that tree above in the background with the dark purple leaves!  I've looked it up, but can't seem to identify it among many varieties.  Since there were so many Elderberry Trees, perhaps it could be the Black Lace Elderberry, but it was quite late and didn't appear to have flowers.  Does anyone know what type of tree it is?  It's stunning!

This was the Rosa Hertog Van Windsor Rose, apparently :)

Oh, and there was a rogue bunny traveling through the roses too, he spooked a few of us who were walking around, but I'm sure he was more terrified...

Umm yeah, just look at that face!  Poor thing...

Another bridge and another delicate flowering Elder Tree...

I found the random bubbling water fountains to be quite charming, and this is the least beautiful of all the ones I have photographed.  By the time I'm done posting about this trip I will have a wonderful eclectic collection of them!  Anyway, at this point it was getting dark and we made our way out of the park before it began closing.  Oh, did I mention that the sun goes down at nearly eleven o'clock?  Yeah, very deceiving!


I hope you are enjoying my posts on Amsterdam, this is the second in a series of many from my most recent adventure through Europe...
Read the first one here:
Amsterdam: Life Along the Singel
Read about my other trips to Amsterdam here:
Amsterdam Flower Market 
Amsterdam Flower Market Part II

I'll be back tomorrow with another post on Amsterdam's Red Light District and Coffeeshop culture!  Stay tuned ;)


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