Two Dutch Girls on a Road Trip to Wiltshire

Road Trip 2017 (2) - Richmond to Chawton to Salisbury.

Good afternoon! Would you like to join me for the second part of my road trip in the South-West of England? A long time wish of my daughter...

Friday, 6 January 2017

Urban Hike: Delft.

It being the Christmas holiday, I decided to take a ramble around the old town of Delft, this time taking along my daughter.
Daylight is scarce this time of year, so if the photos will look a bit gloomy to you, that cannot be helped, sorry.

We entered Delft through the Oosterpoort (Eastern Gate), having parked the car in a tiny street of the neighbourhood close by instead of in the expensive multilayer carpark. I took a risk there; fines are steep and being towed away is a possibility. But I asked Providence for a break, as I'd rather spend my money on a nice lunch than on the carpark. And Providence smiled on me, I'm happy to say.

I always like walking into a town through a gate! It feels special, you are now entering a magical place, where everything is possible. Yeah, I know, I'm sort of strange.
This gate is very well preserved.

Delft used to be a far more important town than close-by Rotterdam. Its first recorded history dates from the 11th century, and in 1400 it was the third largest town of the country, with 6.500 inhabitants. Delft is very much integrated into our history, it being the town where William of Orange (the 1st) was assassinated in 1584. And it is world-famous for two other things: the painter Vermeer and Delftware

When we walked along the canals towards the Grote Markt, we could hardly miss this fact, as we were inundated by both: numerous shops selling Delftware, numerous shops featuring the paintings by Vermeer.
Oh! Did I mention canals? I did, didn't I? Let me tell you, these are not as grand as the ones of Amsterdam, but they are certainly worth the visit! And actual real people live along them, instead of the houses all being turned into offices and ridiculously priced boutique hotels as well.

We came upon the alley leading to the Grote Markt, having to cross one of the typical bow bridges with white iron railings that you see everywhere in Delft. The heavy granite post in the middle of the road is a very effective way of keeping out cars, whilst cyclists can still pass. And they do! Be warned that being crashed into by a student or granny belting along is a very real possibility, you need eyes in the back of your head.

This building is town hall (built 1618), one of the three huge buildings circling the Grote Markt (the other two being churches). Due to the weather the square was almost deserted, but come spring the square is full of terraces and people. 

When alone, I would have gone into the Nieuwe Kerk, with the pompous grave of William of Orange, but my daughter is more of the shopping persuasion.

Dark, isn't it? It was 11.30 am! I am used to it, but sometimes it gets me down, and I know my fellow countrymen suffer from the same sentiment.
Still, it has inspired many of our painters to specialize in painting our ever changing gloomy skies.

This particular sky was photographed near my home by my photographer son Wibe. He has his own website:

We had to warm up by this time, having walked for 45 minutes, so we took ourselves to the Coffee Company on the corner and had a wonderful espresso and carrot cake. I was interested to see what was on in Delft. It is a university town (TU Delft - Technical University), so there's always a lot to do and see.

Does something strike you about those posters? Look at the language? Right, you've spotted it! Dutch is being inundated with English words, and not slowly either! Contrary to the Belgians and French we do not have language police trying to make us speak our own lingo. So we eagerly convert to using English (badly - ouch! My TEFL ears smart a lot of the time). Quite interesting though, I think. Why does a nation fall over its own feet to use another language? My pupils are a good example: they shout OMG and wtf...instead of good old godsamme and krijg nou wat. A shame, really, language is what defines a people. 

This is on the corner of the Vismarkt (Fish market), where fish is still being sold in the very old fishmongers on the left hand side of the photo. You can just about spot another of those white iron bridge railings there, too, and another in the middle distance. I tell you, those canals are wonderful.

What you cannot get around when visiting old Delft, obviously, is Delftware. I happen to like it. But then I like Makkum ware, and Portugese and Spanish and Moroccan ware as well. I simply like pottery, full stop. Delftware was introduced to the town by immigrated Italian potters, by he way.

Aren't they gorgeous? Pricey, though!

We ambled along the canals, going into the little shops, and peering into the many restaurants. Bookshops galore, heaven! And vinyl record shops, heaven again! And original fashion. And not too expensive, as the many students of Delft structurally are on a tight budget.
After a few hours we were in desperate need of a toilet and a beer (in that order), and landed in one of the many bruine cafĂ©'s (brown bar), called thus because the interior is entirely made of weathered (thus turned brown) wood. This one had four special seasonal beers on tap, of which I tried this one.

It is called Gauloise, and yes, it was a French beer. Very nice! Unfortunately I could only try the one, as I had to drive home.

With this view, it was a very good way to end a very nice day in Delft. We've determined to return when the weather is warm enough to sit outside (when we're lucky in April, but typically not before June).

The nitty-gritty:
* Delft can be reached by car using the A4 or A13, or by train. Parking is a problem!! Nearest airport is Rotterdam-The Hague Airport; 15 minutes drive by car.
* AirBnB is populair, but beware, Dutch government is trying to put a halt to it due to many complaints from the regular inhabitants of our historic inner cities.
* It has an historic inner town, which you can "do" in a day if you skip the nice museums. I would spend two days there.
* There is enough to do and see during October-March, but I would go there in April-September, when you can sit outside on the many nice terraces and you have at least a fair chance of seeing a blue sky.
* It being very near Rotterdam and The Hague, make it a three-day deal!
Wibe's photography website (he specializes in both weddings and documentaries)