Published: July 12th 2012July 12th 2012
Quick Summary - dead botanical gardens, Mr. Yellypants, biking, driving the wrong way on a one way road, and getting lost. Leiden
Leiden is a pretty little city south of Amsterdam. Syd and I started the day off with an apple turnover and a coffee from the train station concession. It was by far the best apple turnover I have ever had, and I know apple turnovers. Strange where you are going to find the best food you have ever ate. If you have ever seen the TV show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" you can imagine me on the show gushing over this apple turnover from a train station, very classy.... but it was soooooo good.
As it was raining, again, we decided to skip biking from town to town and just rent bikes within the town, so we biked around Leiden. You should know that the Dutch take their biking very seriously. There are as many bike lanes on the road as car lanes, maybe even more. Bikers always have the right away, even over pedestrians, and bikers are everywhere. We enjoyed rifing our bikes around town until Mr Yellypants. Mr.Yellypants is a goliath of
a policeman who likes to yell at me in Dutch. He just yelled and yelled at me because I was biking on a pedestrian only street. After I asked him if he spoke english he continued to yell at me in English reminding me that there are road signs in England as well. After looking all over for these signs I saw a sign that may determine a pedestrian only sign. A mom holding hands with a small child. That apparently means pedestrians only on this road. Crazy Dutch... :) I am no longer cheering for you crappy soccer team (not that I ever did)
In Leiden we visited the University of Leiden botanical gardens. I saw it recommended in a guidebook and on a website. It was the worst 6 Euros I have ever spent, except for it might have been the best 6 Euros ever. The gardens which were a good size were full of dead flowers. Everything was dead. Syd and I laughed so much. It was soooo bad. All the old people at the gardens seemed to like it.
We did some shopping, Syd bought a new jacket and we ate lunch at a
place called jacketz. Jacketz are apparently stuffed potatoes. It reminds me of an old restaurant in Hub Mall called "The Jacket Potato Man". This potato was awesome. They take a giant potato, stuff it with filling (I had tuna and corn, Syd had smoked salmon) then you cover it with a sauce. Soooo good.
In Leiden we decided to rent a car and drive to The Hague instead of biking. If you have never driven in Holland, it is a nightmare. Bike lanes, car lanes, stupid signs that don't make sense. It is very unnerving. In addition, they gave me a standard. I have not driven a standard in probably 10 years, and I was never very good at it. In the first 5 minutes, I went the wrong way down a one way street, I blocked a bus and the was boxed in by another bus. In trying to get out of that jam I was trying to reverse and could not get the transmission into reverse, bus drivers yelling, people screaming, bikers laughing and I was sure that Mr. Yellypants was just right around the corner ready to bombard me with more angry Dutch. Eventually I worked
it out and made my way to the Hague. I do have to thank Syds gramma and grampa for lending me their GPS, it is awesome. I always miss the turns she tells me to take but it always finds a way to get me where I need to go. I am starting to fall in love with the GPS girl :)
Scores for Leiden
Kyle - 9/10 - "Mr. Yellypants cost them a half a mark, but the city and the canals are beautiful. Go here instead of Amsterdam"
Syd - 8.2/10 - " The biking is amazing, dont get hit by a car, watch where you are going." The Hague
The Hague is a busy and vibrant city about 25km away from Leiden. It is old and full of culture and shopping. In fact the shopping here is the best I have seen in The Netherlands. One thing I have noticed about Holland is the lack of tacky souviner shops that I have seen in almost every other European city I have been in. It is tough to find tacky shops. Instead there are a lot of higher quality shops that offer nice
goods. If you are a shopper and in the area you will like the Hague.
We visited a lot of churches and went to this outdoor antique market, some pretty cool stuff there. The only disappointment in our sightseeing was the closure of a museum I wanted to visit. The have hundreds of famous artworks all in one building. Unfortunatley the building is closed for renovations until 2014. Booooooo. This is a city with weird roads and crazy drivers. I frequently miss my turn because I dont understand an intersection or there is too much going on in it. I actually skipped about 4 turns I needed going out of my way by about 3 km until I found an intersection I liked.
For dinner we went to a supermarket chain by the hotel. I love shopping in international grocery stores and seeing all of the cool stuff. Some of the best stuff we had were local cheeses, salami and breads, and of course orange 7up and teriaki sauce potato chips. I also found a new favourite flavor of Dannon yogurt, pineapple. Tomorrow a couple of more stops in the Hague and then off to the next secret
There are more photos below