It has been pretty quiet lately – which is mostly because of Christmas, and because I really wanted to take some time off to relax. There has been too much going on, and as this blog has always been a hobby, I just can’t always make room for it. However, I spent some days at the Dutch coast during Christmas, which was really nice (and didn’t even look at my laptop once, which was even nicer). When it was time to finally leave the holiday house again, we decided to visit Haarlem, as none of us (us being me, my husband and his family) has ever been there. It wasn’t really high up on my bucket list before, which allowed me to let myself be surprised by this city!
One Day in Haarlem
The city of Haarlem is located in the West of Amsterdam, close to the airport Schiphol. From the little place where we were staying, Noordwijk, it was half an hour drive to Haarlem, which was ideal for spending a relaxed day. Although the weather wasn’t at its best (welcome to the Netherlands), it was nice to be outside and enjoy some fresh air and wind. Even on December 26th, quite some shops were open, although it is a public holiday in Holland. We decided to go shopping first, browsing through some stores and enjoying all those post-Christmas sales. I bought this glass photo ball, which has been on my list for quite some time now, however, I always hesitated to order one as I wasn’t sure how often I would actually use it. Now I got one, I can’t wait to start experimenting with it!
The City Center
Haarlem has a nice, old city center spreading around the main shopping street and the ‘Grote Markt’, which literally translates to Big Market, the square around the church. Mostly, there are no cars allowed in those small streets with all those tiny Dutch houses and shops, but you still should keep paying attention as there are bikers everywhere (again, welcome to Holland. Make sure to get out of their way as they might get pretty annoyed with you otherwise). I especially loved the old Dutch houses, which were pretty crooked for a big part, but that’s exactly what gives them their charme. Stroll around those smaller streets to see some really nice ones! And make sure to visit a café or restaurant during the day. We stopped at a burger restaurant called Thrill Grill, and it was really nice! I especially liked the fact that they can serve every burger with Beyond Meat, which means they have plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, too.
Sightseeing in Haarlem
Oh yes, there are also quite some sights to visit in Haarlem! To be honest, as I didn’t have any expectations before going, I didn’t realize there were until we were there. After having walked around the city center, we decided to go see an old windmill. You can simply walk there by following the signs saying ‘De Adriaan’. The windmill was finished in 1779 and completely burned down about 130 years later. It was only built up again between 1999 and 2002 and can now be visited. It’s still fully functional, however not being used very often.
Another thing I would have loved to visit was the old prison of Haarlem. Yes, a prison. And not just any prison, you can see it’s roof from the city center – it’s built as a panopticon. It was in use until 2016 and has been closed down afterwards due to a lack of convicts. There are only three panopticon prisons in the Netherlands, and obviously all of them have been declared as Rijksmonument. However, as far as I could find out, it is currently not possible to visit the prisons spontaneously – I’ll keep you posted in case I find out something about it soon.
Have you ever been to Haarlem?