As part of our course, we were invited on a cultural trip to experience life in the Netherlands.
And, among the selection of 3-4 activities, was a canal tour through Leiden.
We were eager to see as many little towns as we could, so this seemed like the perfect (and also fun) activity for an afternoon!
So, one fine Wednesday after class, we gathered our things and hopped on the train to our meeting spot. Located only about 10-15 minutes away, Leiden is a small student town, hosting one of the Netherland’s universities.
But, as we quickly found out, it’s so much more than that.
Slathering on a bit of sunscreen, we headed out into the heat of the afternoon, with the sun shining down on us.
We rushed into one of the local supermarkets, grabbed a few snacks (and a cold drink), and set out to do a bit of exploring. As our canal tour wasn’t for another hour, we figured we would see all the main squares, weaving roads, and beautiful homes that might otherwise be missed.
Our tour guide for the day (and classmate for the month) was actually a student in Leiden, so he made sure to take us to the best spots.
Crossing over bridges, and weaving in and out of pedestrian areas, we made our way through the shopping district, the university, and the city centre.
Stopping only to purchase gelato cones and to admire the odd door.
With a quick circle around the town, we ended back at the main bridge so we wouldn’t miss our excursion.
In no time, three large boats came sailing under the bridge, and parked at the grassy landing. The 60 of us scheduled for the tour sorted into three groups, and set up shop for the next hour or two.
Ensuring that we first spread out our treats for a bit of a boat ride picnic.
Once everyone was organized, our captain pushed off and we set off through the intricate canal system.
Under and through tunnels of stone bridges.
And modernized lifts.
Past windmills circling in the breeze.
And out in the open air.
We glided past brick houses and down long canal alleys, admiring the scenery and pointing out our favourites.
And at some point, found ourselves on a “street” of houseboats.
The atmosphere in Leiden was absolutely stunning. Lush with trees, flowers, and an old-world vibe.
And mixed with it all, was a bright pink fiat. Because, why not?
Back on the boat, we recanted stories, told jokes, and laughed our faces off, making new friends, and learning some interesting facts about the town.
The waters were actually quite busy, filled with people of all ages enjoying the streak of glorious weather we seemed to be having.
It was a wonderful day trip and quite worth the 15 Euros or so. I would highly recommend it!
Afterwards we shared a few drinks outside, before setting back to The Hague to meet up with a few friends.