Itinerary: 3D2N (Den Haag, Delft, Rotterdam)
- Day 3: Delft – Rotterdam (train) / Rotterdam – Kinderdjik (waterbus + cycle)
From Den Haag, A and I made a side trip to Delft. Surrounded by the larger neighbouring cities of Rotterdam and The Hague, what it lacks in size, Delft makes up for with cobbled streets, artisan cafes and of course its many, many canals. I thought a map might better illustrate our journey for this trip.
Our original plan involved staying at the Hague for a night before exploring Delft but that proved to be a costly choice, given the exorbitant hotel rates in the Hague. (at least 110 euros a night) Hence, we decided on a scenic cycle to Delft and to stay a night in the charming little town for half the price. (only 14km via Delftweg along a connecting waterway/canal, which I assure you, is a pretty tree-lined rivulet complete with the occasional ducklings taking a dip)
It is also possible to cycle the whole way to Rotterdam (28km); most cycle routes in the Netherlands are extremely pleasant and free of vehicular traffic. The Dutch have the most extensive network of bicycle paths in the world and to not take advantage of this while in the Netherlands is a huge loss for any tourist. Drivers here actually DO give way to me (if you have cycled in Singapore’s traffic, you will understand what a privilege this is) and I am treated as a respectable road user, not a minion! (unless of course you’re Joseph Gordon Levitt in that cycling movie zig-zagging through traffic and asking to be roadkill) Anyway, I digress. I can’t stop gushing over the cycling culture here, ahhh!
Back to Delft. Most people might recognise the signature blue and white porcelain that some of our mothers might have lying around a display cabinet. Famed for their intricate pottery products, Delftware is everywhere in the city, imitations abound and if you’re a genuine (in all sense of the word) buyer, the Royal Delftware shop right next to the Stadhuis (city hall) has a pretty
expensive good selection either as gifts or for your own private collection, just remember your credit card.
The Stadhuis has got to be my favourite building in Delft. Located right in the middle of the Markt (market square) and in front of the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) , this architectural beauty looks like something out of a fairytale picture book. I’ve also learnt by now that when in doubt of where to go in a dutch city, just proceed to the Markt or Stadhuis and you’re bound to find some semblance of liveliness going on around the area.
Open markets are a common sight and you’re bound to come across one in the Markt of any dutch city. These vendors operate from early morning till about 3pm and sell everything from textile and flowers to fresh produce like seasonal fruits, seafood and cheese. I usually stock up on berries and nuts whenever my local market swings by, that’s also when A gets his weekly fix of fresh market fish. The market in Delft occupies the entire town square and because this is a popular tourist destination, it gets rather crowded and lively.
The flowers are such a pretty sight, I’m always amazed at how well they blossom here and by the very fact that these can be seen on many side streets. So instead of rows of bougainvilleas lining the roads like back in Sg, there are sunflowers, dahlias, hydrangeas and tulips. It is no wonder the Netherlands is the largest producer and exporter of fresh flowers in the world. I’m looking forward to the season next April when I’ll get to see its famed tulip fields in its full glory.
Cheese lovers rejoice! We came across Cheese & More mainly due to the fancy display of numerous cheeses in its shop window and that photogenic pair of cows up front, which had many kiddy admirers. Customers can sample the cheeses and range of olive oils, these are all very tastefully packaged so it’s nice to buy some home as gifts, or simply for pairing with a good wine on balmy nights.
Finally, a good ole’ cuppa and a good read while lounging in The Coffee Company, with a view of Delft’s historical center. This was taken when I made the aforementioned trip to Delft again on my own.
Some bouts of solo travelling always makes me feel very leisurely and adventurous – figuring out train routes, reading a map like a tourist, wandering around cobbled streets till you realise you’re hopelessly lost but happy to have discovered a hidden gem; all these add to the experience of being in a foreign place where time is inconsequential.
Before I left Sg, friends and family have asked me what I would do when I’m overseas. Won’t I get bored!?!? I’m thankful for finally having ‘nothing to do’ (in terms of work) yet at the same time, lots to do. I do yoga, run, browse the markets, cook, read, and climb on 4 evenings with A, all of which keeps me very fulfilled and well-balanced. During weekends, we travel and go on cycling trips, such is the life! (for A though, his weekdays involve a duller version which includes school and lots of self-study and homework. just in case anyone thinks he’s as leisurely as me.) It is not in Asian culture, or at least, Singaporean culture to take a few years off work to explore and I know I am very lucky to be in this position of not having to decide on something to do for now. Taking a breather to realign priorities and simply enjoy the present is definitely an invigorating change.