Schloss Charlottenburg the Palace of Berlin

By Steven Wright

A statue of the goddess of happiness Fortuna sits on top of the grand cupola at Schloss Charlottenburg. The palace built as a summer residence and was named after Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Friederich III. The building design is a homage to the palace of Versailles and also references Italian architecture of the time. Construction started in 1699, and was extended numerous times to include the annex and Orangeries.

Located in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Schloss Charlottenburg is the largest palace and the only former royal residence in Berlin. Visitors can tour inside the Old Palace to see the baroque style royal apartments, the largest collection of 18th century French paintings outside of France, and Chinese and Japanese porcelain and silverware collections. The New Wing features the rococo style and some incredible fine furniture  added by Friederich the Great. You can get tickets for these exhibits in the main courtyard through the golden gates.

The palace was badly damaged during WWII, and in the ’50s reconstruction started to bring the palace back to its former glory. The palace tour gives visitors a bird’s eye view of what I consider to be the gem of the property, the magnificent and massive gardens that surround the palace.

The Palace Gardens are expansive covering 33 hectares with one side bordered by the River Spree, they are a great place to relax and enjoy the day, and a popular place for runners and cyclists alike. The garden design references both French baroque and traditional English gardens and feature the Belvedere Teahouse (now a porcelain museum), the mausoleum of Queen Louise, and the Schinkel pavilion.

The baroque portions of the gardens lead to a central fountain, to the west there are a number of tree lined paths leading you further into the garden. Spend some time at the Carp pond, pack a picnic lunch and watch the tour boats travel down the Spree. I enjoyed the variety of plants and trees and was amazed at the maturity of the Agave and other plantings throughout the garden in large pots.

Definitely worth a visit!

Germany Posts:
Autobahn jaunt to Düsseldorf and Köln
East Side Gallery
Outlet City Metzingen
Potsdamer Platz – the platz to be!
Glass Ceiling walking tour: Potsdamer Platz, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie
Shopping in Berlin – ja, das ist gut!
Garden Posts:
Enjoying My Cake in Versailles Gardens

Tip Toe Through Acres of Tulips at Keukenhof

By Steven Wright

The Netherlands is known for the tulips they grow and export around the world. The best place to experience all the varieties and colours of these beautiful flowers is Keukenhof. Located in Lisse, Keukenhof is the largest bulb garden in the world, it covers 32 hectares and boasts over 7 million hand planted bulbs. The tulip festival runs from late March through early May with the best time to see everything in full bloom in late April, as this is also prime tourist time so expect the park to be busiest on the last two weekends of April, through the week is less busy.

Large planters overflowing with long stem tulips line the gate and are the first indication that you have reached your destination. Stand in large traditional Dutch wooden shoes to get your tourist shot if this is your first stop in The Netherlands. This is the place to get a guide book or guided tour of the park through a rented headset with recorded information on each of the gardens. It may be worth it to plan your route to ensure you see everything you are interested in.There are some souvenir shops and snacks at the gate including stroopwaffels and poffertjes.

Make your way around the gardens on the 15 km of footpaths. You will see over 4.5 million tulips in over 100 varieties provided by 91 Royal Warrant Holders. The park features 2,500 trees of 87 varieties and the largest sculpture garden in The Netherlands. Stop along the way to watch swans swimming in the lake or catch a duck running through the tulips. The plantings throughout the park including the mosaic gardens, Japanese garden and inspiration garden provide great ideas that can be transplanted at home. For me it was the understanding that you can plant bulbs in planters.

Stop into one of the gazebos along the path to find the bulb store. Here there are pictures and descriptions of all of the tulips, categorized by region where they will flourish. If that is not enough they will ship them to you when they are ready to be planted in the fall before winter hits. In the spring you will have great memories of your trip with a garden full of tulips that put your neighbors tulips to shame. Stop into the Juliana building for care information for your bulbs and expand your knowledge in the Tulip Museum.

The Beatrix building features the Orchid Show, Anthurium Show and the Bromlea Show while the Willem-Alexander Building hosts the world’s largest Lilly Show in May. The other buildings on site have restaurants, exhibitors, washrooms and souvenirs. There is even an area for the little ones to play with a playground, labyrinth and children’s farm. You can even introduce your kids to Miffy the bunny, an iconic Dutch children’s brand.

Whether you start your trip in The Hague, Leiden or in Amsterdam you can purchase Connexxion’s all-in Combi-ticket which includes round trip bus transfers and entrance to Keukenhof for just over 20 Euro. If biking is more your style, it is about a 2 hour bike trip from Amsterdam or The Hague and there is lots of bicycle parking at the entrance gates. There is also a car park if you are looking to drive. The return trip will include sights of many farmer’s fields of flowers along the way.

Photo Gallery:
Keukenhof
Netherlands Posts:
Quick Eats in Amsterdam

Getting Around Amsterdam, from Straat to Gracht
Destination Wedding – Amsterdam
The Bookcase that Changed My Perspective
Rotterdam – Gateway to Europe
Garden Posts:
Enjoying My Cake in Versailles Gardens