Monday, July 25, 2016


Two things I learned going to Leiden: 

  • 8 AM on a Saturday summer morning is early for the Dutch so I have the streets all for myself, subsisting on cigarettes since the shops are all shuttered until 10 AM, and  
  • there are no luggage lockers in Leiden, the Visitors Information Center is not as friendly as Delft, so I walked around baggage in tow while trying to be a tourist. 

I've got no maps so I felt my way around, the instinct of many travels taking over, until I reached a marker and followed the arrows, which brought me to the heart of Leiden, the historic Blauwpoorts Harbour with its ancient ships and a windmill.

I followed more arrows along beautiful Rapenburg where I stumbled upon the house of noted Dutch physicist Willem's Gravesande (1688-1742) and the green and black Dutch bikes parked near its door.

More arrows took me to Leiden University and its famous garden, Hortus Botanicus where the first tulips in the Netherlands were planted.

Then the arrows disappeared as I paused to rest the poor small wheels of my luggage that's not really ideal for cobbled streets, and discovered a marker that said I was standing in front of the canal entrance to the old village of Lammen where the Dutch drove out the last Spanish garrison to finally lift the Siege of Leiden.

From there is where I saw the spire of the Pieterskerk, Leiden's oldest church, where narrow cobbled streets converge.

And through those streets I trudged, travelling bag in tow, to the Stadhuis van Leiden and a stirring Saturday market of clothes and nuts and cheese and everything else.

Another church spire pulled me through an extremely cobbled street, the massive Hooglandse Kerk, where curiosity took me to a stone arch through an open cafe and up the Burcht van Leiden that once guarded the intersection of two tributaries of the Rhine, luggage in tow, pee storage capacity at bursting point.  

Famished and thirsty, I went back down the market for a lunch of freshly cooked crunchy but tasteless kibbeling after which I decided I've had enough but not after shooting a frame of the catholic Hartebrug Church and a final last shot of some other church.  

And that was luggage locker-less and map-less Leiden in 4 hours.

I could have went back if the now open visitor center allowed luggage safekeeping like Delft's but they did not, so I went to Schipol and killed time with the free airport wifi. 

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