This week I went on a work trip to Leiden, a beautiful city in the Netherlands. Within easy reach of its popular neighbour Amsterdam (a 15 minute train ride from Schipol Airport, to be exact), Leiden is the perfect place for anyone that wants to experience Holland without the crowds. Connected by a network of canals, scattered with windmills, and with some of the happiest residents I’ve encountered, I knew straight away that Leiden was somewhere I would like.
While I was in Leiden, I was able to go on both a city tour and a boat tour. Our city guide took us around the lesser known parts of town – we went into the courtyard of several ‘Almshouses’, which were built by the rich to house the poor. Every block had it’s own story, but all consisted of tall skinny terraced houses, each with just one window. We also heard the legend of how Leiden gained it’s university – after the Siege of 1574 William of Orange offered the residents of Leiden a choice: a year without taxes, or a university. Somewhat disappointingly, we later learnt (from the vice-Mayor of the city – oooohlala I hear you say) that this story isn’t actually true. All in all I really enjoyed the walking tour! However after later learning from our boat tour guide that Leiden has a fortress, I am slightly concerned that our guide wasn’t particularly thorough! The boat tour was also lovely, we were treated to wine and cheese as we cruised around the canal surrounding the city.
Although I only spent a short time there, I really liked Leiden. It’s a happy, charming and picturesque gem that is definitely worth a visit. I really want to go back (and see this elusive fortress!), and perhaps combine my next visit with a trip to Amsterdam, the Hague, or Rotterdam. In the meantime, here are some snaps, all taken with my iPhone!