The Japanese Garden

After more than a month, I’m back to blogging – finally! Finishing my thesis over the last month was a tough process, but it’s finally done and I’m very happy to be back to going out and exploring this beautiful country during these warm months.

During a little thesis break last month, me and some friends went to visit the beautiful ‘Japanse Tuin’ (Japanese Garden), located in the heart of Clingendael. This beautiful little paradise is only open for eight weeks every year from April to June, and again during the autumn period for a few days in October. The plants and flowers in the garden are very rare and fragile, which is why it has to be closed off to the public for the rest of the year.

The garden is stunning during the spring opening, with all the spring blooms out in full force. It was perfect for me to take some great focus shots of all sorts of beautiful flowers and winding paths inside the garden. We visited on a warm but cloudy day, which finally ended up with a full storm breaking loose right in the middle of our visit. Despite the rain, looking out at the garden from our little shelter under the small temple structure in the garden was breathtaking.

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The above picture shows the start of a slight drizzle, but the next one shows the scene about a minute later – in the middle of the heaviest rain shower in weeks!

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I visited the garden once more on its closing day, with the hope of getting some more pictures in a sunnier environment. However, despite the lovely sun shining that day, the garden had already lost most of its best blooms. It was still very beautiful and serene, especially with less people visiting, but the garden is definitely best visited during its flowering season in May.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Springtime Flowers

Happy Earth Day!

With the last couple of weeks being hectic, and with the next few months likely to be even busier, it’s been hard to get outside and appreciate the outdoors and take photographs much. However, a couple of weeks ago, I got the opportunity to take some beautiful shots of budding springtime flowers in Lange Voorhout, near the centre of The Hague. These budding flowers were gorgeous to see with the setting sun, and stretched for several metres along a long path. It was very much like walking down an aisle of flowers!

I hope to get a chance to go walking again soon, and take some more photos once the weather stops switching to cold and rainy. April is always an ‘off’ month here, with a very thin line existing between winter temperatures and summer sun!

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Stepping into a Winter Wonderland

Ockenburgh, take two! After having so much fun here during the summer vacation, there was no doubt in visiting this beautiful place again for a ‘winter edition’. This time, I paid a visit to the ‘tuincentrum’ (or ‘garden centre’ in English) positioned just beside the gardens. It was filled to the brim with Christmas decorations, from beautiful trees filled with baubles to sparkling lights hanging on the walls. There was absolutely no detail left out to welcome the upcoming festive season!

Walking through all the decorations was simply magical. These were some of my favourites:

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After walking through the centre, I enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream – the coziest way to appreciate the feeling of Christmas.

Have a wonderful week!

Capturing Clingendael

The days are starting to get colder and gloomier, and the daylight hours shorter all too fast. Nonetheless, Clingendael remains as beautiful as ever on a sunny weekend, with the autumn leaves falling everywhere. This is such a beautiful park to walk through for an hour or two, and is just far enough from the centre to escape a Sunday crowd.

Clingendael dates back to the 16th century, and has been influenced by many garden architects over the years. The estate also houses the beautiful Japanese Gardens, which are only open twice a year, filled with stunning plants, bridges, and sculptures from Japan.

Even though the main attraction of the park may be the Japanese Gardens, the rest of the park takes centre stage for me. I love taking the time to walk all the way to Clingendael, and exploring as much as possible. On the weekend, I walked through the rose garden, found some geese playing in the water, and enjoyed the sight of the Clingendael Institute near the pond. As usual, the sun shining down made me feel very lucky to live in this beautiful city.

Enjoy the sunshine as much as you can this autumn! Have a lovely week.

Series: Beautiful Places in The Hague

After more than three years in The Hague, I think it’s safe to say that I love this city. It’s become a new home for me, and I’m realising more of its beauty everyday. This week, I decided to start a new series on some of the most beautiful places in The Hague. This can stretch from beautiful architecture to gorgeous parks, starting from the ‘centrum’ (City Centre) to the beach!

1. Scheveningen

The fact that The Hague is on the coast of the Netherlands is hands down the best part of this city. If you’re here during the late spring/summer season, this is likely where everyone will be. The beach is so beautiful, and one of the cleanest beaches I’ve ever visited. And there’s so much to do! There is a newly-added ferris wheel to try out, ‘De Pier’ with an amazing panoramic view of the coast and tons of restaurants to try out, as well as cafés, bars, snack shops, a cinema, and everything else you could ever want to entertain yourself!

2. Clingendael

This place is a genuine slice of heaven. One of the most gorgeous parks in The Hague, Clingendael is located very close to the Haagse Bos and Wassenaar. It’s filled with so many different types of trees, flowers, ponds, as well as cows, sheep, and little lambs during springtime! It has beautiful walking routes to follow all around the estate, as well as a small tearoom – great for an ice cream on a hot day, or coffee on a cold one. Clingendael also houses one of the most popular attractions during the spring and autumn seasons – the Japanese Gardens (which deserves a post all on its own – stay tuned)!

3. Het Binnenhof/De Hofvijver

Undoubtedly, the Binnenhof is the icon of The Hague as the political capital of The Netherlands. This stunning work of architecture houses the Dutch parliament (the Senate and the House of Representatives), the Ministry of General Affairs and the Prime Minister’s office. It is located beside the Hofvijver lake, and makes a beautiful sight during all hours of the day. This is a wonderful location to take a stroll by when you’re in the centre, or to sit beside the lake, watch the ducks and birds, and enjoy some sunshine during an autumn day.

Have a wonderful week, and thank you for reading the new series!

Paleistuin (‘Palace Garden’)

Autumn has officially arrived in The Hague! Since this is my favourite season, it called for a little visit to Paleistuin, otherwise known as the Noordeinde Palace Gardens. It is one of the most peaceful and quietly beautiful parks in The Hague. At this time of the year, it was filled with red and orange autumn leaves everywhere, along with some warm sunshine – what could be better?

Tucked away behind the famous Noordeinde Palace and next to the Royal Stables, the park is filled with flowerbeds, tall trees, and a lovely pond – a little piece of nature heaven in the heart of the city. It also has very interesting sculptures and statues located inside.

Paleistuin was landscaped by the son of William of Orange (an ancestor of The Netherlands as a monarchy) for his mother, so it was known as the ‘Princesses’ Garden’ before it was renamed. It was later given to the Municipality of The Hague in the 20th century, and is now open to the public everyday.

The park is a wonderful location to take a walk in, relax, and to take a picnic on a sunny autumn day. It’s also just a few minutes away from one of the best shopping and culinary streets in the city – Piet Heinstraat!

Thank you for reading, and have a great week!

The beauty of Ockenburgh

While this summer was miraculously pouring sunshine all over The Hague, I took this  opportunity to visit a little-known but extremely beautiful garden (or what is probably better described as a very well-tended country estate) right at the edge of The Hague. Ockenburgh is a lovely place to visit during the summer, when all the flowers are blooming and the weather is sunny and perfect for biking or walking. The estate itself, owned by a poet named Jacob Westerbaen, is over 350 years old!

I took the better part of a summer day to visit the gardens, and it took me hours to explore just a quarter of it – it was much bigger than I thought at first! The entrance itself stretched for ages, with numerous little paths going off on either side. I first explored the more ‘forest’ area of the gardens, which were filled with little bridges, ponds with ducks, and greenery for miles. I have never seen such high trees either – such a contrast to the sandy landscape of Bahrain!

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Me vs. gigantic tree!

The other side of the gardens was definitely my favourite though. Ockenburgh is known for its wild hyacinth groves, which start blooming in April – a beautiful sign of spring. I didn’t expect as many hyanciths as I actually saw – there were literally thousands! Not just the typical deep blue colour, but also a rosy pink and sometimes white.

After being so engrossed by the flowers, I managed to get quite lost and not be able to find the villa itself – unfortunately so, as it’s said to be quite striking. Instead, I stumbled across an ant nest… not quite what I was hoping for, and which had me walking quite fast back to the entrance!

This is definitely somewhere to go if you want to explore the more remote parts of The Hague. An added bonus is that the Kijkduin beach is just 15 minutes away by walking, so that could quite easily be part two of a sunny day! I can’t wait for the weather to improve again so that I can visit this lovely paradise of flowers a second time, and hopefully see the villa (which apparently includes a fancy tearoom) next time!

Thank you for reading, and have a great week!