Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Before our trip, we contacted a private guide named Ab Walet recommended by Rick Steves.  We spent Sunday afternoon with him walking around Amsterdam, and also had a day trip outside of the city planned for Tuesday. The Kenisons and the Jackmans and flown back to the States, so there were just six of us left.  Ab recommended Leiden, a town of about 120,000 people 40 km south of Amsterdam.  We caught one of the clean, efficient trains at the station not far from our hotel:

There is a lot to enjoy in this colorful, creative city:
Leiden Train Station, interior
. . . and Leiden Train Station, exterior
The motif of two red keys is everywhere. The keys first showed up on the city seal in 1293. Peter, keeper of keys, is the patron saint of Leiden, and these are the keys to the gates of heaven.
Leiden is a wonderfully artistic city, and, for being as large as it is, it is also a great walking city, meaning that a lot of intriguing sites are found within a relatively small area.  The area where we spent most of our time was quiet and peaceful.  I don't know why, but there were very few people out and about, even though it was a Tuesday.
Everywhere we looked there were interesting things to see.  The Leideners have quite a sense of style:

I especially got a kick out of this stone and mosaic bench sitting in the middle of a sidewalk:
Leiden is definitely a City of Art:

Like the rest of the Netherlands, it is also a City of Bikes:

Along with the usual McDonald's, we noticed other signs of American infiltration:

One can't really talk about the Netherlands without mentioning the ubiquitous canals, which were just as picturesque in Leiden as they were in Kinderdijk and Amsterdam:
Leiden is also a City of Flowers:

Dutch architecture is very distinct:

Lush, well-manicured private yards were everywhere, surrounded on three sides by entrances to small apartments and on the fourth by a privacy wall:
Even the newer buildings were distinctly different from what I'm used to seeing:

We even learned a little bit about early American history while we were in Leiden. Who knew that the Pilgrims set sail from this city in 1620?  I always thought they left from England.



  1. One of the things I love about traveling with you is your eye for unusual details. You pick up on things I don't notice, or focus on things I barely glance at. You make it a much more rich experience in more ways than just the pleasure of your company.

  2. That was a beautiful little city, and such a nice change after the shock and awe of Amsterdam. For some reason, I particularly remember the gelato we had there. Maybe it was our last gelato?

  3. I just wrote a whole comment and the machine ate my homework. Let me try again.

    I loved going to Leiden with you! Loved: the yellow flowers dangling from the tree, the two keys, the art and architecture, the canals, the interesting statues and sculptures. What a lovely place--thanks for taking me with you!