Exploring Leiden with Keiko
Leiden Travel Blog› entry 13 of 126 › view all entries
Out beyond Schipol International Airport and past Haarlem the towns got smaller and an occasional windmill passed my window. I had always been fascinated by those Dutch icons. I took the numerous plantations of yellow and orange flowers to be tulips but didn't know their season. My IC Train out of Amsterdam only took half an hour too reach Leiden and Keiko (KeikoCreative) was at the point where we had prearranged to meet right at the train station. It was always a thrill to meet another TravBuddy while on the road. After getting acquainted over coffee and a light snack, she led me down cobblestone streets to show some of the sights.
We strolled the Rhine toward the De Put windmill which seemed odd from traditional windmills - being much smaller with a newer-looking rectangular shape and barn-like roof. It was painted black with white trim. Nearby, a bridge led us past Rembrandt's house. A small square behind it had a commemorative statue of the artist. Keiko pointed out many of the buildings, old and new, of the historic University of Leiden, oldest in the Netherlands since 1575. The town's colorful history was beyond my comprehension but that didn't stop my fascination. Its many canals, churches, museums, bridges, and early 17th Century architecture made Leiden an exciting city to explore. Its blend of historic and modern character, and dynamic youthful lifestyle, made it easy to see anyone wanting to live or study here.
Panoramic views from the circular De Burcht Castle were spectacular.
The day was a little chilly so we enjoyed another cappuccino near the Koorn Bridge. The many waterside bistros, bars, and restaurants lining much of the Old and New Rhine Rivers seemed as popular with students and local residents as with tourists and visitors. Further along, specialty and brand-name outlet shops, restaurants, bakeries, and business offices all lined Haarlemmerstraat. We stopped to browse a large department store, primarily to dodge a light rain. We roamed its aisles and rode its escalators. I bought AA batteries for my camera which had little rest in the picturesque town.
On the way back to the train station, we stopped at the classic Molen de Valk windmill which had been converted into a museum. A signboard had a real nice cut-away schematic of the structure's seven floors and showed an array of gears and shafts that could drive pumps or machinery. Unfortunately the museum was about to close but I was thrilled to know where I will eventually come to learn about windmills. We crossed a nearby four-lane street to a park where Keiko held Ms. Piggy in the palm of her right hand. I was able to get a picture the JC's Bar logo with a classic windmill in the background. My afternoon in Leiden was rather short but long enough to make me know that I will be back to explore, learn, and discover more of this Netherlands city. Thank you Keiko!