We woke early and decided to get going, and make our way to Delft. John had read that parking could be difficult so we thought it was a good idea to get there early and find somewhere suitable for the van. I’d researched car parks and found somewhere I thought would be suitable. However, when we arrived, it was a building site! Luckily, there was an Aldi close by and we could pay to stay there for the day… once we’d worked out how to use the machine and pay the fee!
We took advantage of the supermarket to buy some freshly baked Danish pastries, which we ate for breakfast in the van. Then we set off to walk the 15 minutes into the centre of Delft. It was a pretty walk along the canals, where we were lucky to see this heron.
The town centre is the Markt, with the Renaissance-style town hall at one end and the Nieuwe Klerk (new church) with its 85 metre high tower at the other end. The square is full of shops selling cheese and blue and white Delftware, and lively cafes full of tourists. We decided to visit the Nieuwe Kerk and the lady on the desk advised us to climb the tower first, while it was still quiet.
The spiral staircase went up and up and up, first in wood, then in stone, winding one way and then the other. I clutched the handrail all the way to steady myself. John banged his head and rattled his teeth at one point where the head room was low. Ouch!
Finally we reached the top. 376 steps! The views were magnificent but we were both a bit shaky about the drop. I soon forgot about it as I took photos, but John kept clinging to the stone pillars and crept around the inside wall, amusing me 🙂
After exploring several levels and enjoying the views in all directions, we made our way back down, having to squeeze past a huge group of school children on the narrow staircase at one point. We were glad we’d gone early before the tower got too busy. It would have been awful if we’d been squeezing round people outside on the viewing galleries at the top!
After visiting the main church, where there’s a huge mausoleum containing William of Orange, we carried on wandering around the town, and made our way to the Oude Kerk (old church), which was built in the 13th century. The tower leans and I wondered if it was built like that or is slowly toppling over!
Having seen enough, we returned to the van and drove to an aire John had found, near Lisse, Leiden and Keukenhof gardens, which we plan to visit. When we arrived it was really full and were were lucky our van is quite small and fitted into the last available space. Phew! We watched as others kept arriving and had to turn and drive away. The lady told us that they are surprised how busy it is too… a combination of high season for the bulbs, Easter and good weather.
John took the bikes off the back of the van and we cycled along the canals to Lisse, getting a bit lost as we looked for Keukenhof, but enjoying ourselves. We passed a couple of colourful bulb fields on the way, which I was excited about. They’re so pretty! And I love the train that passed as I took the shot below… It looks like a caterpillar 🙂
The cycle tracks in Holland are fantastic… wide and abundant, and cyclists generally have right of way. The roads and cycleways got busier and busier as we neared the famous gardens, and we were astonished to see hundreds of coaches spilling out thousands of tourists. We decided we’ll go early one morning to try and beat the crowds, although a lady directing people outside did say it’s not so bad inside once everyone disperses around the gardens.
On the way back we had a couple of beers and some nibbles, sitting outside a bar and soaking up the warm sunshine. We didn’t expect this in April! The wind is still quite cold though and cycling back we were heading into it, and it it was pretty difficult to pedal at times! We passed more beautiful bulb fields and I couldn’t resist stopping to take more photos, even though John pointed out that I’ll see dozens more over the coming days!
Back at the van, we had a shower, trying out Bertie’s facilities, and cooked dinner… tacos washed down with a bottle of wine. Today we’ve decided to have a lazy day. Maybe a bike ride in the sunshine, or a paddle on the lake if its not too windy… we haven’t decided.