Alright, are you ready for the avalanche of blogposts on Europe?? 😉
Yes, it’s been a busy busy month! I was in Tanjong Jara Resort, followed shortly by a week of adventures in Europe (my first time ever, thanks to KLM Airlines!), then Marina Bay Sands (also my first time, thanks to Marina Bay Sands) and finally a beach holiday at Pangkor Laut Resort (thanks to YTL Hotels).
Now, I think I need a vacation from my vacations! 😛
As sit here wondering where to start, I realized I have already kicked things off with a post on Pierre Herme; one of the best patisserie in France; thus now perhaps I should talk about the sights around Europe yeah? 🙂
One of the main reasons why I was flown to Europe was to catch the amazing ONCE IN A DECADE Floriade, a World Horticultural Expo at Venlo, The Netherlands.
Floriade is a horticultural expo, staged once every 10 years that showcases the world’s best flowers, plants, trees, fruits and vegetables.
Here’s an excerpt from CNN; “This is a once in a decade flower show so it’s even more spectacular than Keukenhof, and Keukenhof is already amazing“.
Quite a claim isn’t it? 🙂
Now, I’m no flower girl. But a once-in-a-decade horticultural expo sounds worth a visit for sure!
Floriade 2012 is happening between 5 April and 7 October and this your chance to discover all 5 themed worlds as you can see from the visual map above. Click if you wish to view the full version of the map.
It draws inspiration from more than 100 gardens and pavilions with unique flowers and plants from around the world.
From the moment I walked in, the vast estate of the area hit me and I stood there awestruck.
Cable cars merrily whizzed past and happy visitors strolled the gardens, licking on their gelatos and turning up their faces to the gentle warmth of the sun.
A panaroma shot of the gardens from my Sony Nex- 5n, in a futile an attempt to show how vast the area was. I think an aerial view would have done the job better. LOL.
The gelato kiosk has a perpetual queue. Trust me, the weather was as hot as Malaysia, but with less burn as the air was chilly.
Flowers and greens paved the walkways and the blooms nodded their heads in greeting as I ambled past. The entire area has a festive air; most visitors are families and couples out for a day of fun and relaxation.
And the Floriade is exactly that, a perfect family excursion for the day.
Cosy corners and easy chairs were everywhere so although Floriade is enormous; visitors could take their time to explore and rest as and when they wish. Trust me, I thought I was fit, but after 3 gardens my legs were screaming for a break!
Yups, this was what happened after 2 hours and barely 50% of the Floriade grounds.
It is also unwise to carry too much with you if you wish to cover all the parks. Since I travel with my ultrabook (an Asus Zenbook) and a camera plus 2 smartphones, I decided to hold on only to the HTC One X (as you can see from some of the pictures here) and my Sony 5n for picture taking purposes. Lockers are available for rental, and I gladly dumped my ultrabook, Blackberry, jacket, scarf and gloves inside.
These lockers are popular, and I had to come back twice before I scored myself an empty locker.
The theatre of natures at Floriade 2012:
|Green Engine||Villa Flora – the ultra-sustainable Villa Flora is home to the biggest indoor flower show. Take part in an imaginary flower auction where you can bid on your own flowers. Or you can learn to make a stunning floral masterpiece.|
|Bloomin’ Holland: Flower Innovations – The pavilion gives a hint of what is in store when the Bloomin’Holland theme park opens its doors near Aalsmeer in 2014.Bloomin’ Holland is all about innovation in the ornamental plants and flowers sector.|
|The Israeli pavilion|
|MORE –> http://www.floriade.com/the-park/green-engine|
|Relax and Heal||Feel Good Garden
The Healing Dragon
It’s a Tasty WorldMORE –> http://www.floriade.com/the-park/relax-en-heal
|Education and Innovation||Israel
Smood – smart food factoryMORE –> http://www.floriade.com/the-park/education-en-innovation
|Environment||MORE –> http://www.floriade.com/the-park/environment|
|World Stage Show||* Aqua PavilionGardens of the world:
* Pakistan Garden
* Tunisia and many more!
|* Beautiful RoseValley
* Floriade Theater
* Restaurant Aqua Pavilion
|MORE –> http://www.floriade.com/the-park/world-show-stage|
The Villa Flora in the GREEN ENGINE zone was my first stop. Known as the ‘greenest office in the Netherlands’, it is build to house cutting-edge companies in Venlo Green Park. Villa Flora is currently housing the changing flower and plant exhibition for Floriade 2012.
Once inside, I walked around and begin to take as many pictures of the beautifully arranged plants and flowers.
However, I got annoyed after a while as there were so many people!
For photography purposes, it’s best to come early as the crowd does get in the way of the exhibits. I set out from my hotel early too; but was delayed for hours due to the confusing train system, ended up taking the wrong train, got lost, etc. Well, that’s material for another post so you’ll be hearing all my rants soon! 🙂
For example, for the exhibit below, I waited for 30 mins but gave up in the end as this lovely treehouse was very popular, with a steady steam of visitors thronging it. So I just took the best shots of the exhibits; as much as I could avoiding having other people in the pictures, though that was next to impossible.
Anyhow, it’s a testament to how popular Floriade is. I chatted up with some of the visitors (since I was alone) and found out that most are from The Netherlands themselves; here for a day of relaxation and leisure with their loved ones. Floriade is special even to the locals because it is only ONCE every 10 years, and the Netherlands people are really proud of their flowers; with some even guiding me through the exhibition!
Yes, there were friendly people all around. And colorful exhibits.
Some of the flowers are pretty amazing. Needless to say, I have not seen 90% of these species before!
Here’s another examples of why Floriade is a good choice for a day’s outing.
At one section, long tables like the below are laid out with beautiful thick volumes covering topics from plants to earth to animals. Grab one and browse through it slowly with your partner or have an educational session with your kids.
Test tubes plants anyone?
These are gorgeous! After a week in Europe I realized I have an affinity for large, layered petals blooms, and especially those with striking bold colours. 🙂
I have absolutely no idea why there were 2 dresses in the middle of one of the gardens. They were pretty though so I took a picture!
Within the Villa Flora, there were some pavilions set up themed by countries. Below you’ll see Bhutan, Thailand and Taipei.
The Israel World.
The Israeli pavilion at Floriade will display the way “The Israeli Touch” helps to improve the world, each day. The different areas within the pavilion will display the Israeli initiatives, inventiveness, involvement and achievements, as Israel’s ability to touch, create, change and surprise with new technologies and products.
The pavilion gives a hint of what is in store when the Bloomin™ Holland theme park opens its doors near Aalsmeer in 2014. Part of the pavilion will have a second lease of life at the theme park.
I repeat; Floriade is a great place for a day out with your family. I had to walk past this to enter Bloomin’ Holland and was very very tempted to start climbing on this structure.
But I was sure the parents around are not going to appreciate a BIG monkey on those bars so I sulked away quietly and went into the pavilion.
With consideration for the other visitors, I used my HTC One X to take these pictures above. The HTC One X camera is silent thus all pictures were taken without interruption to the show. Flash was also not allowed but the sensors for the One X handled the low light really well.
After the darkness I was glad to be out in the sun again. This time I headed to the Relax and Heal theater; with the words “relax and heal” drawing me like a moth to fire. I was in all honesty; hoping for a massage, spa or any kind of therapeutic activity.
These speakers on the tress boomed “zen” soundtracks as we walked down the lane to the Heal and Relax section.
It’s summer in Europe now. Everyone’s basking in the sun at every possible opportunity!
The Healing Dragon.
I got influenced doing the “ang moh” thing too – sitting in the sun.
Now, that will never happen in Malaysia! 😛
These photos are of the show garden of Garten & Pool from Langenfeld in Germany, with presentations around the theme of pools and wellness. Yes, some areas are sponsors driven and you will be handed copies of sales brochures. Not to worry though, they aren’t pushy. 🙂
I found it boring after a while and went seeking for food. Within the Relax and Heal theater, there a pavilion called It’s A Tasty World. I walked towards it with much anticipation and a growling stomach!
Unfortunately it didn’t satisfied my hunger but intensified it instead!
“It’s a Tasty World” aims to educate each and every one of your senses to help make you aware of what it is like to live in a scrumptious, tasty world.
Each process in the food chain can be followed: from production, processing and preserving up to delivering the goods to the shops so that food can be supplied to consumers quickly, efficiently, easily and safely.
The exhibit explains aspects such as how the various senses, but also our regional and cultural backgrounds, influence whether we like a particular flavour or not
Scelta Mushrooms is the initiator behind bringing this highly successful, Japanese exhibition “It’s a Tasty World” to the Netherlands. The exhibition was a great success in Tokyo and recently in Hong Kong and now it’s in Floriade!
This 300m2 exhibit presents a view of the many facets of food from the perspective of cutting-edge science and technology and the business world.
One of the main exhibits here is the Cradle to Cradle base camp. And yes, as per the picture below, don’t be surprised to see family setting up picnic basket at any available spot. The vast grounds are free for all.
I was rather enthralled with this wheel that depicts the Biological Cycle on one circle and the Technology Cycle on another.
Below: Why do we need Cradle to Cradle?
The Technical Cycle.
Then it’s out to the sunshine again! There’s more to Educational and Innovation than just Cradle to Cradle of course but I was really tired by then. From the brochure, there are The Israeli Hidden Garden, “Wilde Weelde Wereld”, “Bee for The World” and a few more exhibits.
By now I have decided to head home as the journey is another 3 hours+. I came across this exhibit of an electric car as I walked searching for the exit.
An environmental friend vehicle by Peugeot! My favourite 🙂
I’ll elaborate on that in another post about the journey itself to Venlo, The Netherlands, where Floriade is.
Outside of Floriade:
Now my video: Do watch! 😀
Wackybecky’s Europe Adventures 16th -23rd May 2012 was made possible thanks to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Malaysia!