We’ve been in Delft three hours now but three minutes were enough to fall in love with this place.
Our drive over put us to the test of (un)important issues and difficult dilemmas – to see the views on the road or to get there quicker. Motorways, I believe, are the most interestingly uninteresting structures of any country. You travel on them, all the same, but you always reach a different place. With a tireless tourist spirit we decide on the long and boring road. We have set off for the place we are going to, not the road we’ll travel to get there.
The moment we got off the Dutch motorway we were already in Delft. We realise that due to the total monopoly of terraced houses, small bridges, green canals, bicycles and motorcycles. The town is so alive you fall in love instantly. It’s got culture, history, architecture, beer… and is buzzing of people. Its character is larger than its square kilometre.
We are welcomed by overwhelming Dutchness. The conversation with Matthew and Peter’s neighbour goes as follows:
Him: Welcome to Delft! I warn you it is very hot right now.
Us: Oh, that’s okay…
Him: No, no, no! You don’t know what I mean. As I said welcome to Delft!
… unlocking the door
Him: Again, welcome to Delft!
The moment you enter you are faced with a practically vertical staircase. You start the climb on all fours as soon as you enter. As we quickly found out – very typical for Delft. It used to be one house, now it is two. The one with more floors also gets the unbelievable staircase.
The first floor is a perfect embodiment of Matthew and Peter. With the open plan, mid-century furniture and impressive paintings and colours on the walls, you just know it is their place.
And after that – the bedroom floor. I don’t expect us to remember it fondly. After another unimaginable climb of vertical stairs you are hit by a heat wave (Welcome to Delft, as he said!). I don’t think Dutch houses are built with a thought of hot temperatures. We climbed back down, as quickly as we could, worried about what more that space will offer us. It was mentioned there is no toilet up there. And from what we saw the bathroom is just the corridor between the two bedrooms. A sink and a shower just placed in the middle – the Dutch are obviously as easy going as we are told.
We run away to the centre, looking for dinner and pretty views finishing the night with drinks by the canal. Happy and satisfied.
Today we celebrate the first month from our wedding. In Amsterdam. Unfortunately, with the constant presence of an unwelcome guest – the heat. Because of our unfriend, it is totally impossible to be a tourist, furthermore to enjoy it. Our necessity for a constant cold water supply is buried by the lack of cold water in the Dutch (and German) taps.
Oh, and the heat last night!!! Interesting, how, allegedly there is not global warming, and yet these sun-lacking areas manage to get THIS hot. Poor Dutchmen weren’t warned that their architecture – suitable for cold weather, one day will be unsuitable, because it will be hot.
But nevermind – back to Amsterdam.
Amsterdam and I are somehow not getting along. It is already lunch and so far I haven’t seen anything interesting. Yes, we went to Stedeljik Museum and enjoyed a breath of modern art (and cold air), but we even had to skip Van Gough. We were unprepared for the queues in front of his museum.
Now lunchtime is over and Amsterdam is still playing hard to get causing me spiritual failure. Am I somehow wrong or are all the adoring comments, I have heard, just under the influence of the here legal substances.
We wandered aimlessly and I even had to endure an hour in Vondel Park waiting for a heron to fly. Yes, you read that right. My stubborn husband sat on the grass with the camera pointed at a heron on a branch to take a picture of it in flight. And I observe the people around us staring because of Nic’s determination. It flew, the heron did - and took an hour of my life with it.
Finally, after the whole drama, we headed to the Red Light District. Where else? And now Amsterdam finally started talking to me. Even before we reached the ladies under the lights. Finally some charm – terraced houses worth taking the camera out for – architecture, water, flowers and of course wafts of weed everywhere. (Everywhere!) Bicycles ruling the streets – pedestrians few and endangered.
Today we woke up to an entirely different climate. I have truly made a mistake about global warmings (hm…). Be careful what you wish for, as they say! In the morning we were greeted by clouds and rain attempts and yet we put on the shorts for the Hague. Well, the justice city decided to correct us. We started with changing into trousers, then – walking through some light rain searching for the sights and ending up in a coffee place under the pouring rain! Apparently the weather will actually be different today. A homemade porridge later we realise that we have already passed through the historic square. Therefore we go back to take pictures (have we even been there if there are no pictures) and then decided to head to the highly recommended beach of the Hague.
Naturally, on the beach it is a gloomy day even though we are prepared with towels and swimming costumes. We settle for my traditional touch of the water and a barefoot walk to the pier. The beach might be typically North-European but the pier isn’t. For most effective usage of the space for consumerism purposes the pier is two-story. Closed off in windows, full of shops and restaurants on the bottom, and on the top – windy with little bars, an event space, a bungee jump platform and a ferris wheel (the view from which I am not too sure about – how much more water can you see when you are surrounded by water?!?).
One thing, however, I will keep in my memory forever from this huge Dutch promenade and that is the art park. A big, interactive, terraced square with bronze people ranging from the size of a teacup to 13 meter giants, many of which in odd situations like diving into the ground or chained down like Gulliver. If I love it that much you can imagine the joy of the children around us. Reading about it later it turned out that my sixth sense was right. All weird characters have been taken out from stories about the sea and one of them is really Gulliver.
After our odd lunch on the beach we decided to move towards the windmill park of Rotterdam, proving the lack of married-life communication. We have both pictured different places but only one of us had access to the SatNav. Instead of the UNESCO heritage site we arrived in Skidam. Therefore, instead of the functioning mills of Kinderjik we saw the ones in this village. Guess who was picturing which place… But windmills are windmills. We took a picture and moved on.
Our next stop was Rotterdam and its unique parking fees. I have never in my life seen a car park to charge by 15 minutes an amount for an hour at normal car parks – 1€ / 15 mins. And I thought people simply volunteer to ride bicycles. With the scary fees in mind we set on a limit of up to two hours in Rotterdam’s centre.
As per usual we arrive not very aware of our surroundings and just walk wherever the wind takes us. We know only about the market and the Cube houses. Turns out they share the same neighbourhood. On pictures the market looks like a magical wall-projection phenomenon. Well, it isn’t that. But is no less impressive. I don’t think I have the words in my dictionary to describe the place. Massive, colourful and odd. A food hall with apartments shaped something like a dome. Again – too odd for words, too big for good pictures.
With a bunch of grapes in hand we walk through the market towards the Cube houses. Without even having to think about it you can see that Rotterdam like to be the centre of odd architecture. The market, the Cube houses, the building with the huge yellow pipes, the tall building in front of the Cubes, the classical building next to them. On one of the walls within the Cube houses complex is a quote by the architect Piet Blom: “Now, what’s this? A palace or a fun fair?”. I don’t think there are better words to describe this neighbourhood of Rotterdam.
We reach the Cubes after being struck by this genuine weirdness and I just can’t understand the why, how, what and where when it comes to the Cubes. It is wonderful that one of the houses has been turned into a museum so we can rearrange our brain waves. It is not actually that much of a mindtwister once you’re inside. I would gladly stay in one of them as a high-tech AirBnB. However, I would never devote myself to living and owning an 80s listed building in which most likely not can be changed due to its status. One of the bigger Cubes is a hostel – seems like a great idea. Otherwise – no, thank you!
After untying the neurons in our heads we get back. It was a good moment to do so as my legs decided to start hating me at that moment. Returning to the car was joyfully welcome.
The evening we spent with Matthew and Peter. What are the chances we would last-minute decide to travel to Holland in the same week they arrive in Delft. After a great dinner, enough wine and lovely conversation we head to, this time, a cool bed.
This morning my eyes opened about an hour from leaving. My legs were loudly swearing at me, refusing to cross the canal to the car. The motorway was once again in its boring state. After this spontaneous visit, Holland can expect to see us again.
Vassya (and Nic)