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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Little Gems of the Netherlands

A view from the home of Rembrandt in Leiden
The Netherlands is such a lush green country that as one steps out of the bigger city like Amsterdam, it appears that a green carpet has been rolled out everywhere. The countryside has fantastic sights of endless meadows with huge cows and sheep grazing, big horses trotting, and streams of clear water.  I travelled extensively during my recent trips to cities like Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam. In my previous posts, I had described my exploits in Gouda, The Hague and Utrecht. Frankly, every place I visited the number of surprises that awaited me was just unbelievable. The weather never played a spoilsport so I was able to move around freely and the sunny days made the journeys and travel very enjoyable.
On one weekend I decided to visit Leiden which is located almost 45 minutes away from Rotterdam by train. I was not aware of what to expect as the trip was planned hurriedly and I had no time to browse about the claim to fame of this small town. It turned out to be a treasure trove, as this university town, has so many notable achievements such as having produced 13 Nobel laureates, the birthplace of Rembrandt the great artist, and associated with ancestors of great American Presidents, Roosevelt, Bush and Obama to take pride in.
As I stepped out of the station the lush green lawns of the huge University campus and hundreds of bicycles parked at the station greeted me. A signboard regarding the discovery of Factor V gene responsible for blood coagulation by two researchers Rogier Bertina and Pieter Reitsma stopped me on my tracks. How many cities honour their scientists in such a unique way?
Picture postcard beauty of Leiden
A short walk from the station brought me to the picturesque Blauwspoorts harbour right in the centre of the city. The birthplace of Rembrandt and the windmill that was once owned by his grandmother stands there to this day. A pleasant walk along the canal took me to the Molen de Valk windmill which is now a museum. Pieterskerk or the Church of Saint Peter’s is associated with the Pilgrims that came down to settle in Leiden in 1609. Fearing losing their identity, they boarded Mayflower to head for the new land, the USA. Some of these were ancestors to Roosevelt, Bush and Obama. Around 21 houses around the church are still inhabited by the Pilgrims descendants.
A coffee and banana cake and apple pie at one of the oldest coffee shop, ‘t Suppiershuyshinge is strongly recommended for its cosy setup and lovely hosts.
Stadhius or the TownHall in Leiden
Stadhius is the lovely Town Hall building that has been rebuilt after a colossal fire that gutted the old building on 12 Feb 1929. There are several museums, a public library, Botanical Garden and Corpus( a human body six-story high which can be explored from inside) in this little town.
The beautiful canals and windmills in Delft
My next destination was Delft which is just a 20 minutes run by train from Rotterdam. Delft is known the world over for the blue pottery (ceramics), association with Johannes Vermeer and the Royal House. This small town too is renowned for its University, canals, markets and pubs. During the summer months, a number of boat cruises are available to explore the city. Some of the public toilets are decorated with the Blue and white pottery from the local ceramic factory. 
The Nieuwe Kerk in Delft
The Nieuwe Kerk ( church) has 365 stairs that offer a lovely view of the city and a distant view of Rotterdam. We were lucky to see a Farm Market around the Old Church area which was very colourful. We tasted a lot of variety of cheese and Stroopwafels. The Town Hall area is full of tourists where a number of curio shops, coffee shops, ceramic souvenirs and cheese vendors do brisk business. The best way to conclude a day trip is to frequent a local bar and enjoy ‘bitterballen’( beer with fried balls of meat or mushrooms and Gouda cheese)
The Centraal Station in Rotterdam

The journey to all these places had originated from Rotterdam which is a very modern and cosmopolitan city. The unique building of Rotterdam Centraal is straight from a Sci-Fic movie like Star Trek. 
Erasmus Bridge by night in Rotterdam
The city is famous for the Erasmus Bridge which stands out for its beauty at any time of the day or night. 
The colourful Markthal in Rotterdam
Besides this, Markthal( Market Hall with lovely paintings on the wall; is also a melting pot of global cuisines), the Cube Houses and their quaint architecture, Euromast ( TV Tower and restaurant), one of the oldest ship SS Rotterdam, museums and churches are well worth a visit. Lijnbaan is the Central market vista where every known brand has a shop and is full of glitter at night. A visit to this place will never make you believe that during the World War II this place was razed to dust by German Luftwaffe bombers.

The gems in the Netherlands are far too many. It is just that I ran out of time and the time flew really fast. I am sure that I will be able to explore more of this lovely little nation in time to come

PS: All pictures are mine taken during the trip

1 comment:

  1. Such impressive structures, there.
    Looks like it was a a great trip. Do we get to see some pictures from the countryside? :)

    ReplyDelete