Windmills, Wild Tulips and Wall Poems

SGMT | Leiden | Windmill | Molen de Valk.
Leiden is a bit like Amsterdam Lite. Canals – check. Architecture – check. Windmills – check. There’s even one just a few minutes’ walk from the train station.

But the city possesses an identity of its own. It’s known for being the birthplace of Rembrandt — and, quite more recently, Armin van Buuren — and is home to the Netherlands’ oldest university. Einstein and Enrico Fermi walked these streets; university alumni include the current king. Wild tulips grow between the road and the water. Poems fill the walls.

We were in Leiden for just over 24 hours, majority of which were spent either sleeping or on an excursion to Keukenhof. A claim to intimacy is therefore out of the question. But for what was in truth intended as a mere stopover between Amsterdam and Paris, Leiden generously showed us its best face.

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SGMT | Leiden | Canals

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SGMT | Leiden | Boat in sunrise

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SGMT | Leiden | Tulips by the river

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SGMT | Leiden | Tulips and windmills

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SGMT | Leiden | Boats and buildings

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SGMT | Leiden | Canals

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SGMT | Leiden | Windmills | Architecture

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SGMT | Leiden | Wall poems

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SGMT | Leiden | Graffiti | Darth Vader dark side coffee

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SGMT | Leiden | Graffiti

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SGMT | Leiden | Church | Architecture

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SGMT | Leiden | Beestenmarkt | Architecture | Boats

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Quick Guide to Leiden

  • How to get to Leiden from Amsterdam: Take a train from Amsterdam Centraal. More details here: The Train to Leiden.
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  • Where to stay: We found the Hotel Mayflower surprisingly wonderful. I say “surprisingly” because it doesn’t have the most stellar reviews but we were quite happy with our stay there. More details in a separate post soon.
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  • What to see and do: We only made a passing acquaintance with the city so I’m not really an expert on this but, for what it’s worth, the photos above were taken during an early morning walk. We chose our route at random but we eventually did a sort of circle that started and ended at Beestenmarkt, where Hotel Mayflower is located, first going through the area around Molen de Valk, finding our way to Marekerk, then down Haarlemmerstraat. The wall poem pictured above is beside the Haarlemmerstraat H&M. I belatedly discovered this site that has walking guides that would have been perfect, though. Don’t download the app — just note the stops and search for them in Google Maps. Read the descriptions of each stop and, if you have time, read more about them online.
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  • Where to find rice: 😀 Yes, that is seriously a thing if you have a young picky eater with you who’s used to eating rice. On the way from the train station to Hotel Mayflower, there’s a Thai restaurant that sells rice (you can take away) on the left side of the road. And if said picky eater looks for fried chicken, there’s chicken fingers at the Chicken Way just across the road from the hotel.

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SGMT | Leiden | Molen de Valk

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5 thoughts on “Windmills, Wild Tulips and Wall Poems”

  • Bright photos, well organized post and surprise photo with moving windmill (how?). The post is written in an informative style, but light and it feels personal. This part of Europe interests me, and I wonder how expensive you are finding the trip. I also wonder about interactions with locals ie easy, welcoming, memorable? I like you don’t try to fit everything into one post but break it into what i call digestible chunks. Very smooth post, like a lot

    • Thank you! The moving windmill is a GIF, which you can create out of a video. The trip was quite expensive — for example, a typical meal would cost around 5x as much as it would at home — but overall worth it because I was with family.

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