Leiden: A Charming Dutch Town
I’m starting to wonder if all Dutch towns are picture perfect. I’ve been to quite a few now, and it’s just uncanny how beautiful these towns are. Seriously though, have you seen Utrecht, Maastricht, Alkmaar, and Zaanse Schans? You really can’t make a wrong turn when traveling throughout the Netherlands.
We went to Leiden on a special day, a day of hope and celebration. The Leidens Ontzet.
As you probably know, there have been many, many wars in Europe over the years — various empires, kings, and queens. On October 3, Leiden celebrates the Spanish leaving the city after the Siege of Leiden from 1573-1574. It’s a day full of fanfare, carnival rides, festival food, craftsmen and women, culture, and red and white (the colors of Leiden).
While the city does get a little crazy during this event, there are still picturesque streets, canals, and such that are still quiet where you can feel the small-town charm. It’s easy to find these gems and to get lost exploring.
One way to explore the charm and history of Leiden is to participate in the Leidens Ontzet Treasure Hunt by Verita’s Visit Holland. You are given a booklet with clues and instructions, then you wander around downtown Leiden to discover the secrets of the city in your team of 2-4. It involves some smarts, some goofiness, and being comfortable asking others for help. What an adventure!
Luckily we had another pair with us to help us navigate the clues. The second half of our team were Agness of etramping.com and a pretty cool Dutchman. It wouldn’t have been half as much fun without them!
We did a lot of walking and often got blocked in by a parade, but it was all in fun! Each team seemed to really enjoy themselves. Some were more competitive, while our goal was to take in the city and learn a little along the way.
In the end, Leidens Ontzet is a very cool festival to check out…but go by train! It’s a very popular place to be. Be sure to bring cash because there are some good looking food stalls, artisans, and carnival rides that are happy to take your money. This is an easy day-trip from Amsterdam as it’s only a 35 min train ride away!
What festivals have you been to around the world? What’s been your favorite?