Monday, October 25, 2010

delft: old netherlands charm

Delft is one of my favorite towns of the Netherlands. I imagine it to be what Netherlands was like 100 to 200 years back. It think it small and quaint and neighborly compared to the Hague. The two times I went there, I always have this light, airy feeling in me. I could not help but love it, even if it is just the town center that I always visit.

It is known for its pottery, inspired by Chinese ceramics. With Holland's intricate canal system, may trade ships would often pass by the country and thus leaving a lot of different world traditions in its doorstep.

My first trip to Delft was with the Pinoy mafia with an almost complete attendance. It was a lazy Thursday afternoon, with every one having some free time on their hands. And oh, we had a free tram ride ticket from the ISS too! We figured, if we were to use our tram tickets, might as well use it for the farthest it can go which was Delft.

So our little sojourn to Delft began!

We we went down near the technical university and right where the open market stalls were. It looked much nicer and merrier than The Hague's own open market. We could not help but be lured by the beautiful colors of fruit and flowers, clothes and chocolates. With our 30 minute market time, there were people with boots, bread and chocolates.
Those strawberries may be small, but they are sweet and succulent. Yum!

Go wild with chocolates! The dark chocolate and the coffee chocolate just bring melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Who cares if they convert to almost Php200.

Just to let people know what Delft is about, an indescribable monument covered with pieced together Delftware ceramics.

Our purpose for this trip was to see Oude Delft or Old Delft. While Ikea was probably a few stops away, we were still new, was in occasional state of giggly disbelief that home was halfway across the globe and wanted to absorb as much of Europe's charm as we can, so our stop had to be old part of town.

The Nieuwe Kerk or New Church was where the House of Oranje-Nassau was buried after the Spaniards captured the original Royal burial grounds in Breda. Prince Wilhelm and Queen Wilhelmina, along with other Dutch royalty, were buried in its hallowed grounds.

More interesting for us was the 356 steps we had to climb up to have a spectacular view of the city. All of us actually paid three euros to suffer loss of breath and tired legs to go up. Despite that, of course we had to pose for photos and pretend it was a breeze!

With our resident athlete, Risa, going up seemed no bother at all. She was as beautiful as ever.

I would say the three euros were very much worth it after experiencing the magnificent view from above.
After we got down, we just had to take a breather and prayed we did not leave anything valuable in the tower because we're not sure if we would go through all the trouble for it. :P

We also went to the Oude Kerk where the reknowned painter of the "Girl with the Pearl Earring," Johannes Vermeer was buried. Delft was his hometown, and like most famous painters, his genius was hardly recognized by his fellows when he was still alive. ("The girl with the pearl earring" can be found in Mauritshuis in the Hague. His other works can be seen in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.)

Farther down town, we found a section where they sold many kinds of flowers. It was just splendid to see all those potted plants in different hues of the rainbow scattered all over the street making the place more vibrant and romantic.

We stopped for coffee at one of the Lonely Planet's guidebook to Netherlands recommendations, Kleywegs' Stads Koffyhuis. It was known for its pannenkoeken or pancakes and its famous Delft Leaning Cup coffee. The drink contained coffee, chocolate, milk foam and cinnamon placed in a leaning cup, much like the Oude Kerk's tower. I got that one and the group shared a couple of pancakes. We wanted the full Kleyweg's experience for less the cost. :P

It was after five when we finished our coffee break. We saw a boat tour and wanted to try paddling through the canal. Rino and Chris successfully talked the person in charge to give us a discount. Since the paddle boat has to be returned by six pm (which was less than an hour's rent), he gave us a few euros discount to use it.

So we paddled nicely along the canals and through the tunnels. It was definitely not easy and getting the paddle boats back before 6 pm was a challenge but we made it!

It was several months before I got back to Delft, but it was as pleasant because I shared the wonderful Delft experience with the hubby that time. :)

All in all, I would find pleasure in going back to Delft again. Maybe to visit Ikea this time and finally get to experience their Swedish meatballs and cheesecake again. But immersing myself in Old Europe through Delft was such a wonderful experience, there is nothing I can say about Delft but magical. :)