Haarlem As Our Netherlands Base

2024, International, Netherlands

So glad we chose Haarlem for our Netherlands stay. It’s only a sixteen minute train ride to/from Amsterdam. It’s similar to the bigger city in so many ways but not so busy and not so touristy. We arrived on a holiday weekend and folks were out in force to enjoy the beautiful weather and the leisurely company of friends. We stayed at Amrâth Grand Hotel Frans Hals in the historic center of town within sight and earshot of the bell tower of the grand Cathedral of St. Bavo, and a quick walk to the river Spaarne, the heart of Haarlem a city even older than Amsterdam. Our first adventure, after mailing hotel keys back to London, was a visit to Molen De Adriaan, Haarlem’s own windmill which was open to the public this weekend in celebration of National Mill Day. We were fortunate to visit late in the afternoon and to linger as the volunteers began to close down, stop the rotation of the blades and furl and secure the sails. Then that night we ventured out and posted ourselves near the windmill with a great view of the sky hoping for a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis and watching the Aurora iPhone app for reports of sightings near us but to no avail. We did learn later that it was seen from Haarlem around 3AM but by then we were sleeping. On Sunday we had the distinct pleasure of visiting Teylers Museum, the oldest museum in the Netherlands which first opened its doors to the public in 1784 still occupies its original building in the center of Haarlem facing the Spaarne. It’s an amazing institution as relevant today as it was when Pieter Teyler first envisioned it during The Enlightenment. And of course our visit to the Netherlands couldn’t be complete without a canal tour especially after a weekend of watching the locals and visitors enjoying life on the water. Our tour began on the Spaarne directly across from the Teylers Museum and took us all through the heart of this historic city. On Tuesday we made a trip back into Amsterdam to cap off our highlights of the Netherlands with a visit to The Rijksmuseum, the national museum of the Netherlands and an amazing peek especially at The Dutch Masters. We, along with hundreds of other visitors, got to stand in awe before Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, a Van Gogh Self Portrait and so much more including a special exhibition of Frans Hals, a favorite son of Haarlem. Of course in between it wasn’t just museums, windmills, and boat rides. We enjoyed some wonderful meals, learning how to read Dutch menus, how to order coffee to our liking, and trying foods unfamiliar to us. We loved Bitterballen for instance and now know what a Croque Monsieur is. There was some window shopping and more with a trinket or two traveling on with us. But what we’re really coming away with is a desire to return to the Netherlands and especially to friendly Haarlem.

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1 Comment

  1. Michael Ogden

    I love reading about your adventures. I never paid much attention to art until I visited the Rijksmuseum. Now I’m a fan of the Dutch Masters.

    I’m glad you two are enjoying The Netherlands.

    Reply

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