Delft and Den Haag

After my first two days in Amsterdam, I decided to go on a little mini adventure to a few other cities outside of Amsterdam. I was planning on visiting Delft, Den Haag, and Haarlem before meeting Sam after work (she ended work early that day) to take her boat back to the apartment but I ended up spending more time than expected in both Delft and Den Haag and missed out on Haarlem completely. But have no fear! My notes on Haarlem will be provided at the end of this post!

TRAIN:
Amsterdam Centraal to Delft
Travel Time: 1 h
Total: 13

Delft is a fascinating town – home to some of the most renown Dutch painters in the world, it is also known for its iconic blue pottery (also known as Delftware or Delft Blue). My first stop in Delft was to get breakfast at Stads-Koffyhuis. I ordered the seasonal strawberry tart with the Delft Leaning Cup, which is served in a special cup that leans just like the tower of Oude Kerk!

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STRAWBERRY TART AT STADS=KOFFYHUIS
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DELFT LEANING CUP

The Oude Kerk is a Gothic Protestant church in the old city center; its most recognizable feature is a leaning brick tower that is 75 meters high because during its construction, the foundation of the church could not support the building as it was a former canal. As a result, the church began to lean. They tried to compensate for the lean with each layer of the tower but in the end, only the top four turrets are actually vertical. Vermeer was born in Delft and is also buried in the Oude Kerk of Delft. Purchasing the entrance ticket to Oude Kerk allows you entrance to the Neue Kerk as well, along with a free coffee. Sadly, the Leaning Tower of Oude Kerk is not available for climbing, for obvious reasons.

TIP #1:
Oude Kerk + Neue Kerk Entrance Fee: €4
Neue Kerk Tower Entrance Fee: €5
376 steps
Combined Kerks + Tower Entrance Fee: €8

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LEANING TOWER OF OUDE KERK IN DELFT

Since my ticket to Oude Kerk can be used for the Neue Kerk, I headed over to visit the new church as well. Neue Kerk was where William the Orange (founder of Nederlands) was born and it currently houses the exhibit Marc Chagall’s “Cavalry”. On my way over, there was a whole marketplace in the Markt so despite already having breakfast, I ended up getting some more poffertjes because they are too addicting.

I also actually did pay a little extra to climb the tower – what can I say? I love those city views from above! And I get to burn off those poffertjes! The one interesting tidbit of this tower is that it is where scholars Simon Stevin and Jan Cornets de Groot carried out their famous gravitational experiments with their lead balls. You can get an amazing view of Stadhuis van Delft (Town Hall) from the top of the tower.

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VIEW OF THE STADHUIS VAN DELFT IN THE MARKT FROM THE TOP OF THE TOWER
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VIEW OF DELFT FROM THE TOP OF THE TOWER
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VIEW OF OUDE KERK FROM THE TOP OF THE TOWER
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DELFT CITY VIEWS FROM ABOVE

One of Sam’s recommendations for Delft was to go on a boat tour of the city. It’s roughly 45 minutes long and you get to see the houses where painters like Vermeer lived and how there was a window tax in the Netherlands and there was a house that had so many windows in spite of that tax! I think it’s a great way to explore the city and it’s fairly short so I highly recommend it.

TIP #2:
Delft Boat Tour Price: €8
Duration: 45 minutes
Delft City Boat Tour Price: €14,50
Duration: 1h 45min
Cash only

After the boat tour, I took the train to Den Haag (The Hague) so I ended up missing out on checking out Oostpoort, which is the oldest city gate remaining in Delft (from 1400s).

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VERY LARGE AND LUXURIOUS LATE-GOTHIC PRIVATE HOUSE (c. 1505)

TRAIN:
Delft Zuid to Den Haag HS
Travel Time: 15 minutes
Total: €2,50

I took the tram from Delft to Den Haag HS since that was the fastest, most convenient way to get to Den Haag. From the station, I walked about 20 minutes to my first stop: Mauritshuis Museum.

TIP #3:
Mauritshuis Museum Entrance Fee: €14
You can purchase tickets in advance here

The Mauritshuis houses the Royal Cabinet of Paintings, most of them from the Dutch Golden Age painted by masters like Vermeer and Rembrandt. It was a private house that eventually turned into a museum and is the one museum that has the infamous “Girl with a Pearl Earring”. Photos really do not do this painting any justice. There is another Vermeer hanging there that I really like of Delft that is considered the most famous cityscape of the Dutch Golden Age. It was painted at a time when cityscapes were not common. What makes it so special is the layers of the painting – the water, the hazy reflection of the buildings, the cityscape, and the clear sky. Having spent my morning in Delft, I feel like I appreciate Vermeer’s paintings even more now that I understand more of the context. 

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MEISJE MET DE PAREL – JOHANNES VERMEER
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GEZICHT OP DELFT – JOHANNES VERMEER
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DIANA AND HER COMPANIONS – JOHANNES VERMEER
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SELF-PORTRAIT – REMBRANDT

Once I had my fill of the classics, I decided to check out the Escher Museum, a recommendation from Sam. Ironically, I did not realise Escher was the same graphic artist that I learned about in elementary school with his studies of impossible objects like the impossible cube and the Penrose stairs amongst other mathematical objects. It was really pleasant surprise finding that out and I had a great time going through the house seeing reproductions of his work. When I got to the museum, I found out that they sold combination tickets to several other museums. There were a few on my list like the Mesdag Panorama (which has Mesdag’s famous beach panorama painting) and Madurodam (which is a mini Netherlands) but I realised that I was running out of time since I had to meet up with Sam in Leiden when she finished work. I ended up buying the combo ticket with Gemeentemuseum because they had a temporary Mondriaan exhibit that I really could not miss; however, I have outlined the prices of various combination tickets below.

TIP #4:
Escher Museum Entrance Fee: €9,50
Escher Museum + Gemeentemuseum Combo Ticket: €21
Escher Museum + Madurodam Combo Ticket: €20,50
Escher Museum + Panorama Mesdag Combo Ticket: €16
You can purchase tickets to the Escher Museum online here (does not include Combo tickets)

I ran to the N1 bus going to Gemeentemuseum (it’s about a 20-minute bus ride) to be able to squeeze seeing the Mondriaan exhibit before having to rush back to Leiden. I was barely able to squeeze in about 30 minutes (which was actually just enough time to go through the entire exhibit). Mondriaan is seen as an ascetic monk who turned his back on life and lived only for art. According to the exhibit information, the unique feature of Mondriaan’s work is its progression. Art was more than merely a representation of reality. He was in search of radical harmony that would lead to abstract art. In 1908, through experimentation, Mondriaan came to the conclusion that pure, intense, colors (the famous primary colors) and a strong, simple manifestation of the line (the horizontal and the vertical) could help realise such an abstract form of art. Why I really needed to see this exhibit was because I learned about him in fifth grade during art class and we had a project where we mimic his abstract art and create our own paintings using horizontal and vertical lines using only the primary colors and black. My dad still keeps my version of a Mondriaan on top of the piano.

After finishing up at Gemeentemuseum, I had to take the train back to Leiden to meet up with Sam since she had ended work early. Sam and I headed back to Amsterdam and we picked up her boat in front of one of her colleague’s house in the city center. She got a small boat for her birthday that year and I was so excited for her to take me around in it! Boats surprisingly don’t cost an arm and a leg as I expected – I think she said smaller boats cost about $800 and they spent an extra $100 on an electric motor. Anyways, we her colleague, Brian, and his husband joined us and we took the boat back to her place where I got to walk Sam’s dog and we ate dinner outside – where I promptly got dragged across the lawn by Charlie due to his excitement at seeing another dog, and ended up with grass stains all over my clothes. And yes, everyone in the restaurant and outside witnessed it. Fantastic end to a great day, am I right?

OTHER TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

HAARLEM:

  • Frans Hals Museum: Floral exhibition
  • Grokt Markt
  • Sint-Bavokerk: Mozart played the pipe organ here as a child (€2,50 entrance fee) 
    • Located in Grokt Markt
  • Teylers Museum: Oldest museum in Netherlands (1778) and houses Raphael, Michelangelo and other masters
    • Cabinet of Curiosities
  • Kathedrale Basiliek St. Bavo
  • Hofje van Bakenes: Apparently the prettiest hofje (courtyard) Netherlands has to offer
  • Janskerk

LEIDEN:

  • Molen de Put: Rembrandt’s windmill reconstruction that is also known for bread
  • Pieterskerk (church)
  • De Markt: Street market
  • Wall Poems of Leiden
  • De Rijn (Rhine): Canals of Leiden

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