Saturday, 29 January 2011

THE NETHERLANDS –Leiden & The Hague, via Lincoln

07/12/10 - Lincoln
It has been a number of years since our last trip to The Netherlands. Looking to add a little variety to our winter excursions, Holland seemed the obvious choice now cheap local flights are a thing of the past. Fortunately, P&O still operate the Hull to Rotterdam route at the same bargain price we have paid before.
This time, the journey would be a little different, taking advantage of the late sailing time. If we were to drive to Hull, we would visit somewhere different along the way there. Today it would be Lincoln. Heavy snow fall had threatened the trip, but on the morning of departure, the main routes were again clear. The scenery was spectacular, particularly the heavy morning frost on the trees that line the A43. Once off the M1, the route to Lincoln was much slower. Road works and snow fall are a bad combination, but never the less we arrived in Lincoln at lunch time. Ascending to the top of the hill and surrounded by snow, we wandered the cobbled streets, lunching at a pub and visiting the cathedral. Lincoln was once the fourth most important town in England, its fortune made from cloth and wool. The medieval streets and buildings have a new lease of life as pubs, shops and restaurants.

08/12/10 - Leiden
The drive from Europoort to Leiden was a short one. We had deliberately chosen a destination nearby, to make the most of the day and in case the weather was worse on the continent. It was a bleak and grey day, but the roads were clear and within an hour, we were struggling to find anywhere to park.
Everywhere was pay and display, but the machines only accepted local bank cards. Leiden is an ancient university town, typical of the other Dutch towns we have visited, being criss-crossed by canals and bridges. Our guide book suggested a walking tour that took in the oldest buildings and bridges. The canal side market seemed to be the busiest place and we wandered around trying to choose somewhere to eat. Alas, our command of the Dutch language does not extend to deciphering menus and the guide book was not much help either. Leiden is one of those towns that I am glad to have visited as it is ‘real Holland’, but not one I propose to visit again though. The Hague was a different matter though.

The Hague
If ever there was a town that felt like it was the centre of Europe, it must be The Hague. Despite the splendid Flemish architecture leaving you in no doubt that you are abroad, there is something about it that makes it feel like it is home to all nations.
It is no surprise then that the town is the judicial home of the United Nations. Unlike Leiden, we were away from car and exploring within minutes. Again, our guide book proved excellent, escorting us around the most attractive features, particularly the 13th century Binnenhof parliament building and the shopping streets, including the Passage covered arcade, the only remaining one in The Netherlands, dating from the 19th century.
Now pushed for time, we headed back to the ferry, forced to eat aboard again.

No comments: