Happy in Haarlem

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Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Haarlem
April 24th 2007
Published: September 30th 2017
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Grote Kerk, Haarlem's 15th-century church.
Geo: 52.4292, 4.77933

Very good hostel breakfast - 3 cheeses and meats, assorted buns and bread (I stuck to the multi-grain bread), plain yogurt, cereal, juice, coffee, biscuits and even hard boiled eggs. Mmmm ... the last time I ate a hard-boiled egg for breakfast while traveling was at a hotel in Barcelona.

They had a very nice, rich peanut butter. I stuffed myself - old hostel habits die hard! You gotta go to town on freebies! They actually had a sign posted - they'll make and pack you a lunch for 5 Euros. It was conspicuously placed to discourage people from making their own lunches and running off with it. Not that I would know anything about that ...

I've got a sleepy bunch of people in my hostel room - they were all sleeping last night when I popped into the room at 23:00 and were still sleeping when I left at 9:30 today! Off to Haarlem for the day. I got off at the wrong station - Haarlem Spaarnwoude. I should have known better - I was busy reading my guidebook and I heard Haarlem called so I ran out the door without thinking.

Haarlem isn't that great

Why is this guy biting a pillar? Was it coated in gelato or made of Belgian chocolate? Cause I'd be all over that!
- despite recent polls suggesting that Haarlem residents were the most content in Holland (this says a lot because the same poll says that Holland residents are the most content people in all of Europe), it doesn't seem as exciting as Amsterdam.

Was chatting with a worker in a clothing shop - he was pretty surprised that I was only in Europe for a week. So was I!!! It's never enough! I used the internet at a "coffeeshop". Budget traveler's tip: instead of spending money on weed, just go to the coffeeshop and inhale the second hand smoke! Or don't inhale, if you're Bill Clinton.

I took a quick stroll through the market, church, and RLD (red light district). Then I went back to Amsterdam. I walked around and grabbed a cheese bun. As I continued to walk, I realized that MANY women were smiling or winking at me. This wasn't very flattering at first as they weren't all that attractive. But then some truly stunning women were doing the same. Was it my swagger? The new shirt I was wearing? No - "It must be the Axe body spray", I thought.

But then I realized the sad,

A nod to Holland's seafaring history.
sad truth - I was standing in the heart of the RLD 😞

Off to the Amstelkring - the hidden Catholic church in the heart of the RLD. It was neat, but not worth the 6 Euros. Interesting because Amsterdam has always been tolerant - even though Catholicism was banned, officials turned a blind eye to it.

I did a little shopping (for clothes, not hos) and had a ham and cheese croissant. Aside from the big breakfast, I've been eating crap all day. I went to town at H&M - lots of cheap clothing!

I was exhausted and de-hyrdated after a long day of walking and needed some juice and water BADLY. While in line at a grocery store, I saw the most gorgeous Dutch hottie standing in front of me. Definitely Spanish-quality! I would've said something but I kept tripping on my tongue and slipping on my drool.

After that it was back to the hostel for a shower (a cold one was in order ...). The high was 27 degrees today! I smelled like gym socks!!! I walked to dinner via Leidseplein and the Dam. After last night's great experience it was back

A tribute to hydraulic engineers - without them, a nation like Holland could never exist. Ohhh ... I'm so proud ... I'm getting all emotional ... sniff sniff ...
to the Jordaan. I decided to try another guidebook recommendation. If it was too busy the fallback plan was last night's restaurant.

Over at Café Luwte the poor (but cute) waitress was quite overwhelmed. The place was very busy - always a good sign. The bread wasn't fresh - but had a very crunchy exterior. It tasted like buns my grandma used to re-heat for me - just plain buns from Safeway that she quickly ran under the tap to keep from burning when she popped them into the toaster oven. It tasted just like it! Ahhh ... memories ...

I tried some Dutch beer (never got the name of it) - not bad, but not Belgian-quality either. I started the meal with white asparagus soup. I finally was able to test my pee theory tonight since I had no green asparagus this evening. It was light, yet creamy, and very delicious (the soup, not my pee - which BTW still had that nasty asparagus smell). A copy of my findings will appear in the next edition of the American Journal of Medicine. It's a ground-breaking article using scratch-and-sniff technology!

Anyway, the bowl was much bigger than

A sarcophagus. A Dutch hottie looking at the aforementioned sarcophagus. It's all good.
needed (the bowl for the soup, not the toilet bowl) so it looked like only a tiny serving of soup. It was so good that I wanted to lick the bowl (again, the soup bowl, not the toilet bowl). And with its size I probably could have stuck it on my head and got a bowl cut at the same time! The soup would have been good chilled, too - a Dutch version of gazpacho. Simply put, it was sublime.

It was a beautiful night sitting canalside - a very romantic location. The setting was incredible ... if you closed your eyes for a moment and used your other senses ... it was almost like you were sitting in an impressionist painting. The flicker of the candle and the smell of its burning wick ... the chill of the breeze on your face ... the sounds of bike whizzing by ... the chatter of people as they paddled by on their boats ... the rustle of leaves falling to the ground and being gently whisked away by the wind ... it's almost impossible to fully describe the scene. A transcendent moment? Most definitely.

I found myself closing my

Foucault's pendulum experiment. Never got to see a demonstration, however.
eyes many times during dinner trying to recapture that feeling. But not too long, or I'd miss all the Dutch hotties walking by! What I love about this place is that if you took away all of the cars and signs of modern life, and then used some imagination - it's as if you were sitting in a different century. 18th, 19th - take your pick!

Of course, this beautiful image was ruined when 2 guys rode by on a single bike. The way they were sitting was very strange and can only be described as being like the Ambiguously gay duo, Ace and Gary!!!

The entrée arrived - succulent suckling pig chops with a flavourful chorizo-like sausage, served atop a mound of mashed potatoes and surrounded by a deep, rich moat of a balsamic-based sauce. The chops were grilled but had a roasted flavour to them. Juicy and tender ... this dish was a thing of beauty - a mountain of potatoes capped with two chops and a sausage. More majestic and beautiful than the Jungfrau in Switzerland!

Dessert was 3 types of cheese, including a blue cheese that wasn't nasty, and was actually surprisingly good. The

JACO - just another church organ.
toasted pine nuts were a nice accompaniment but I stayed away from the bread, though I did take a little nibble of it occasionally to cleanse the palate. Wow!!! I've had some great meals in Amsterdam - I'm glad that I didn't cheap out here.

The waitress gave me some sightseeing tips - I didn't catch her name but she had a really sexy accent. But since I didn't get her name I can't return to find her in a year. All I need is a name and place of employment to track down a European cutie!

She replied "yes and no" when I asked her if she loved living here. She finds the crowds to be overwhelming but thinks that the Jordaan is a beautiful place to live. But unfortunately for her, she doesn't live in the Jordaan. The Jordaan is awesome!!! I could live here! Sprinkle a few more chiquitas around and I'd definitely move here.

Back to the hostel - I stopped at the carnival taking place at the Dam, but it was dead. Spuistraat supposedly has a lot of nightlife but it was also a little dead. The Leidseplein was fairly lively. I saw

Back in the day they used to distribute bread to the masses at this desk. Now they distribute hash and hookers!
a funny poster on a wall just outside of a bar - "If it's tourist season, why can't you shoot them?" Ouch! It made me laugh since I understood the sentiment.

Some guy on a bike whizzed by and whispered something to me. I think he was trying to sell me drugs! Welcome to Amsterdam!

Additional photos below
Photos: 52, Displayed: 27



These marks show the heights of Haarlem's tallest ever citizen (over 8 ft) and shortest (under 4 ft). I'm somewhere just below the top of the higher framed picture.

Finally, gelato big enough to satisfy me!

Must be carnival season in Holland and Belgium - they're everywhere right now.

Yet another scenic European square ruined by McD's.

Mmmm ... little donuts ... it was actually disgusting how much butter they used, but still tasty when topped with some icing sugar.

JACSFSTSSMIIC - just another cheap Swedish furniture store that serves Swedish meatballs in its cafeteria. And you can't see it from here but just beneath that telecommunications tower is Holland's mint.

If going to Haarlem make sure you DON'T get off at Haarlem Spaarnwoude!

I couldn't see it but apparently the world's one and only drive-thru brothel is right around here. The girls are known to ask you "do you want fries with that?".

Back in Amsterdam - the National Monument. Once built as s WWII memorial, it's now considered a monument for peace.

In the heart of Amsterdam's red light district, literally steps away from women in windows, is a school for little girls. Apparently it was part of an effort to show that all elements in Amsterdam could co-exist side by side.

Inside the Amstelkring museum - tiny little bed. Back in those days people were afraid to lie down to sleep because they thought they would die from blood pooling in their head. So instead, the blood pools in a different head and you end up having to create a red light district!

This painting is of the prodigal son blowing his inheritance on prostitutes. But this is Amsterdam - so where's the pot???

Here, he has no money to pay the prostitutes - so they chase him away and throw things at him.

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