When we booked our summer holiday (Amsterdam and Copenhagen) we hadn’t realised that we actually had quite a lot of time in Amsterdam, especially given that the journey from London is so short. We managed to do everything on our itinerary much faster than we had anticipated as well due to the excellent Metro in Amsterdam (I am yet to visit anywhere that tops it)! We bought their 24 hour and 48 hour passes which saved us a lot of time, money and energy.
We had planned that if we had some spare time (e.g. half a day) we would go to Haarlem. Many people have not heard of Haarlem and that really is a shame because it’s a wonderful city. If we had had better weather we could have gone to the beach and Nationaal Park that is close to Haarlem. It only took us 15 minutes by train from Amsterdam to get there and the trip cost approximately €5 – so really there is no excuse not to go.
We came across the windmill (De Adriaan). It was originally built in 1779 but had been burnt down and rebuilt since then but it was still beautiful with its reflection on the canal water. This was the scene of Alex’s ‘Haarlem shake’ video which will never be deleted from my phone.
On arrival we found a cafe called The Chocolate Company, and as we are both chocolate lovers and had been enjoying the Dutch chain cafes we thought we would give it a try. I am so happy we did because it was amazing! They have chocolate on sticks with many different varieties (Alex had a chilli one and I just had the traditional) that melt in the mug! It was so unique and I just hope that it comes to London soon.
It was so peaceful wandering around the streets and the shopping was so so good. We did not see any other English and very few tourists as we were walking around. I reckon that Haarlem would be even better in the peak of summer when Amsterdam could possibly get a little too touristy for some.
Alex loved Haarlem because the houses were much more vibrant and it was a welcome change from the browns, greys and blacks of the buildings in Amsterdam that we had been getting used to. It kind of felt to me like a mini Amsterdam – there were still the canals and the gabels and bikes but fewer people and a bit more of a unique, quirky vibe. Walking near the station it did not seem anything out of the ordinary but the further we went into the centre near the old square, the more beautiful it became. We even witnessed a wedding parade outside in the middle of the square.
As an Athiest, it is quite difficult to drag me into a church, but the Grote Kerk in the middle of the old square was so magnificent that it was worth the visit. I’m pretty sure selfies aren’t the most appropriate thing to be doing in a church but we were enjoying the place so just went along with it. We had lunch at a restaurant called ‘The Square‘ in the square (funnily enough), and that concluded our wonderful, lightening visit to Haarlem.