Despite agreeing that we should leave the hotel by 10 AM, the four of us were out the door at 11:30 and heading toward a nearby cafe to get breakfast. (They all serve the same thing… and it’s all of similar quality. It no longer matters where we get breakfast.) By 12:30 PM, we were at Amsterdam Centraal station, confused by all of the timetables. Finally, we figured out that we needed Platform 1 if we wanted to get to Delft. The train was arriving in a few minutes so we got up to where we needed to be and boarded the train.
Around 1:40, we were in Delft, a city south of Amsterdam. (We passed by a lot of farms on our way. We saw lots of cows, horses, and sheep, as well as flowers.) It’s been described as a mini-Amsterdam with its tiny canals and churches. Yehuda and Kate went one way, Alex and I another. We agreed to meet back at the railway station at 3:30.
Having a limited amount of time in this city, Alex and I tried to do the quintessentially Delft things: see the churches (Nieuwe Kerk and Oude Kerk), the city hall (Stadhuis), and the town square (Markt). We first passed by the Oude Kerk but didn’t stop by because we wanted to see the other church and the city hall on the square. We were amazed by the huge market square (Markt) and all the people. On the nearby canal streets, there were also a lot of booths and tables set up with people selling all kinds of things. After gawking and browsing for a few minutes, we went to the Nieuwe Kerk and took photos, inside and out. We found the tomb of the Prince of Orange to be especially fascinating. The city hall (Stadhuis) is directly in front of the Nieuwe Kerk across the square, so we took exterior photos and started walking back toward the railway station.
The four of us got on the 3:47 train to Den Haag and arrived in the city at 4:02. Again, Kate & Yehuda and Alex & I split into 2 teams and agreed to meet back at the station at 6:30.
Since everything closes at 5 PM in Europe, we weren’t able to go to any museums or really see anything of worth. This was very disappointing as there are quite a few interesting museums we wanted to see. Instead, we wandered around the busy city center. Some of the narrow streets are just chock full of shops/stores on both sides. We even stumbled across something called “The Passage” (French pronunciation), which is pretty much exactly like “The Passage” in St. Petersburg. (Both are covered outdoor shopping malls that specialize in expensive boutique-y stores.) We also saw some parks (and evidence of a street market that occurred earlier in the day) and had beers on the terrace of a cafe, Bodega de Posthoorn.
Overall, The Hague was disappointing. There was nothing to see or do. Many of its citizens are older and wealthier, which probably explains why, at 9:30, we were so glad to be back in Amsterdam. (We were delayed in The Hague because we decided to have dinner there, at Cafe Brasserie Dudok, while Kate and Yehuda headed back to Amsterdam.)
On our way back to the hotel from the railway station, Alex and I stopped by the Grasshopper, another coffeeshop that lets its customers hang out on the terrace without buying marijuana — as long as they buy something. So Alex ordered a cappuccino and I just got a bottle of water. (Water is expensive, usually costing €2 for a 0.5L bottle.)
At the conclusion of day 5, Alex and I realize that there are a few things in Amsterdam that remain unseen or un-experienced:
- bakeries (Pompadour, Puccini, Winkel)
- Begijnhof (nun convent from the 14th century)
- seeing the city by bike
- canal boat tour
- Heineken brewery
- raw herring from a street vendor
- Amsterdam public library
- NEMO musem
- Bimhuis (jazz club) — closed in August, apparently
…We still have a lot to do & see.