Hello Once Again, Armchair Travellers of Bloglandia!
If you’re absolutely sick of seeing my vacation photos, you’ll be glad to know this post is the final installment of the Dutch Diaries.
But if you’ve enjoyed reliving my little excursion with me, well, sorry to say, it’s still the final post of my recent trip to the Netherlands. Sigh.
Anyway, this time, I finally cover all the delights we discovered in what became our home away from home….Delft!
I wasn’t expecting much from Delft
I tend to go a bit nutty prior to a trip and begin jotting down ALL the stuff there is to see and do in the places we plan to visit.
Which is why I wasn’t expecting much from Delft. As I mentioned in previous Dutch Diaries posts, Delft was really only meant to be our base from which I’d expected to make oodles of day trips.
Because if you look at a guide book, you’d think all there was to see in Delft are the New and Old Churches, and then maybe you could go to the Prinsenhof Museum if you’re really desperate for something to do.
Now, I don’t know if the Delft Tourist Office is trying to keep their town from being “discovered” (aka “overrun with annoying tourists”) or if the writers of the guide books simply haven’t spent more than a couple hours in Delft, but holy bicycle spokes, we found SO much to discover in Delft.
Then again, we might just be easily entertained.
Still, we had a great time in Delft, and as I said, it was such a great town to be in that we ended up ditching many of our day-tripping plans just to spend more time in this delightful place.
Yes, we did see the churches
Since they were the only two things we had actually planned, the first places we visited in Delft were the Nieuwe Kerk and Oude Kerk (the New Church and the Old Church).
The New Church absolutely dominates the main square in Delft…
It also serves as a handy point to look for if you get a little lost amongst all those canals…
Now, this is Europe, so “new” is relative, and this church dates from 1351. This is “new” compared to the Old Church, which dates from 1240.
You can almost imagine people heading for service in 1352 to the New Church, passing by the Old Church and saying, “Oh, that place is SO 13th century. Pshaw!”
Other than being the new kid in town, the New Church’s main claim to fame is being the burial place of the members of the House of Orange, the ruling family in the Netherlands since the 1500s.
There’s a huge crypt to hold all the Oranges, and while I do love delving into any crypt I come across, unfortunately, you have to be a member of the House of Orange to go into it. Ah well.
Even though you can’t go into the crypt, you can’t miss the big old monument to William of Orange (aka “William the Silent”) in the church’s nave.
Moving on from the New Church, it’s just a short walk away to the Old Church. This place is pretty austere, but it does hold the graves of loads of Delft citizens, including the artist Vermeer.
Unlike the last time, we visited Delft, the Old Church has now installed a nice set of displays near many of the graves to tell you more about the person, which turned out to be really interesting.
What else is interesting is the Old Church’s tower. Here, take a look…
No, the camera is not being held crookedly. The tower leans!
And the farther you get from it, the more you can see the lean.
This might be why you’re allowed to climb the tower of the New Church, but not the tower of the Old Church! And why you might not want to stand under it on a windy day : )
Why is this not mentioned in the guidebooks?
On the map given to us by our B&B host I noticed a park nearby. Since I always love a nice stroll through the park, Mr Husband and I trekked off one afternoon to see a bit of nature in the city.
And crikey! It’s a ton of nature!
It’s called the Delftse Hout (which I think means Delft Woods) and it’s a huge park with loads of walking trails, a swimming pond, and even camping grounds (which were more “glamping” than camping and I was quite tempted to check in!).
Again, I know this would be something that most tourists wouldn’t bother to venture over to, but I was still surprised it’s not mentioned at all.
Back to playing tourists at the Prinsenhof Museum
I’m just going to say that the museums in the Netherlands are pretty darn expensive, so I really hadn’t made plans to visit many museums on this trip.
But Mr Husband got looking into the Prinsenhof and wanted to go, so off we headed one day.
And it turned out to be super interesting.
Again, the guidebooks make this place sound like it’s as dull as a butter knife, which makes me wonder what sort of cynical souls are writing these books.
The main point of the museum is to relate the history of Delft and the rise of the Orange family. And they do both in spectacular form!
Plus, I always love exploring an old building (the place used to be a monastery, then became the palace for William of Orange/the Silent)
When we were there (September/October 2022), the museum had a terrific multimedia exhibition about Amalia, a pretty feisty Orange lady from the early 1600s), and also tons of interactive displays (with cartoons!) about William of Orange and his successors.
The Prinsenhof is also where William met his end, when an assassin snuck in one evening and shot him. In one wall, you can even see the bullet holes…the very big bullet holes!
Unfortunately, the museum doesn’t allow ANY photos inside, so you’ll just have to head to the museum’s website if you want to see those boom boom holes and images from inside this spectacular history museum.
Surprises on the edge of town
Two more sites we found on our little tourist map (and another two not mentioned in any of the guidebooks I looked at) were at opposite edges of the heart of Delft.
One was the Oostpoort… the only remaining gate from when Delft was a walled city.
It was built in 1400, and simply makes for a nice photo spot.
Also, with a few alcoves along its walls, also makes for a good spot to get out of the rain when you make the mistake of forgetting to check the weather before you go out exploring!
The other site was the Molen de Roos, or the Rose Windmill. Of all the windmills we visited on our trip this ended up being my favorite… and not just because it was free (again, WHY is this little gem not in the guidebooks?).
The windmill is run by volunteers who are very enthusiastic about their windmill. The free tour takes you up and up and up. And out (on the walkway).
And on each level the guide tells you more than you could ever want to know about the windmill.
What’s even better? This is a working windmill! It grinds flour that you can buy in the shop at the base of the mill.
They didn’t have one of the flours I wanted, but I did pick up a whole wheat flour and a pancake mix to take home. I’d show you pictures of the bread I’ve made from the wheat flour, but I ate them too fast!
A couple more hidden gems
Another couple sites we found on our handy dandy map were a pair of homes from the 1800s. One was a merchants’ home, and the other was the home of an artist.
We might have only done one or the other, but for one price, you get to see both, so why not?
The artist’s home was that of Paul Tetar van Elven. I’ll admit, this was the second of the homes we visited and, although interesting enough, was a little stuffy for my taste.
But that might have been because the first home was pretty darn fun for what could have been a dull museum.
This was the Huis van Meerten. Lambert van Meerten was a merchant and he loved to collect things. Unfortunately, he wasn’t too wise with his money and ended up going bankrupt. Oops.
Anyway, this museum… we walk in and there’s a pair of older ladies who almost seemed shocked that someone was actually visiting the place. They ushered us in like we were friends they hadn’t seen in ages.
After a little sorting out of the audioguides (again, I don’t think this place gets many visitors), the ladies advised us that this wasn’t like a normal museum and that we were encouraged to touch things, open doors, look into closets, and have a good snoop around.
And snoop we did! What fun!
Then, about halfway through our visit, we get to this room…
And one of the ladies asks us if we want tea or coffee.
Apparently this is part of the price of admission so you can get the sense of what it was like to be one of the merchant class sitting in the room pictured above and enjoying your afternoon caffeine hit.
I mean, seriously, what museum offers this with your admission…
Anyway, as you might guess, going to the stuffy Paul Tetar house after van Meerten’s warm welcome was a bit of a let down. Ah well, it had some interesting art.
And last but most definitely not least…the markets!
I do love me a European outdoor market, so, yes, I will plan trips around when a town is holding their market day.
Lucky for us, Delft had not just one market day, but TWO while we were there. Hoorah!
The first one (on Thursday, I think) took up all of the main square with produce, bread, cheese, meat, candy, clothes, household goods, and fish stands. Plus there was another market a few blocks away with even more stuff.
We ended up doing a lot of walking back and forth just trying to decide what to get!
And the prices! From one stall we picked up four bananas, four oranges (none named William), four apples, and a bag of carrots for just over $4.
Given that two apples will set you back that much in the States, we were in produce heaven!
On the second market day (Saturday), the main square was filled with fabric and all kinds of sewing notions. Very tempting, but it was almost overwhelming with choices, and no one had any embroidery thread, so I didn’t get anything.
As before, there was another market a few blocks away with food, so we stocked up on produce again. And some candy. And some baked treats. And… it’s a wonder the plane could take off by the time we left!
But sadly, the plane heading back to Portland was able to take off, ending our Dutch adventure. Sigh.
Anyway, if you’re ever contemplating a trip to the Netherlands and are wondering where to base yourself… go to Delft! It’s super affordable, has easy access to so many places, it’s fairly quiet and laid back, and if you don’t feel like going anywhere, it’s got a ton to see and do!
What about you? Have you been to Delft? If so, what was your favorite site? If not, are you tempted to check it out?
Happy Travels, everyone
Type at you soon!
Looking for Something (on Sale) to Read???
Just a reminder about that 30% Off Sale at Kobo…
KOBO 30% OFF SALE (link to all books in the sale)
Coupon Code (enter at checkout): 30NOV
Dates: 10 to 21 November 2022
….and (hint hint) some direct links to my books included in the sale…
All three books of my wryly humorous fantasy series The Cassie Black Trilogy…
- The Undead Mr Tenpenny (The Cassie Black Trilogy, Book 1)
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