The stormy patter of rain on the hall skylight woke me off an on during the night. Puddles on the street greeted me in the morning while the rain continued to fall. I made my first cup of coffee from the Senseo coffee machine. It was actually not too bad, very strong with a nice cream on top. I bought some dark roast coffee pods and it was quite strong. I had with a couple of raisin rolls and a bowl of creamy yogurt. By this time the rain had lessen and I decided to go ahead and head out for the day. My destination was Haarlem and Amsterdam.
Of course, I missed the bus by 5 minutes and being Sunday, it was going to be another 25 minutes for the next one. I almost decided to walk to the train but felt it would be best to wait for the bus so I could see the route I would travel to work on Monday. It was about 20 minutes bus ride to Leiden. Along the way, the bus turned and suddenly I recognized the street. Everything started to look familiar. We headed pass Oude Singel and I could see my previous apartment and Mare Kerk in the distance.
I tried to buy my ticket through the automated ticket machine but it refused to take my ATM card. The other automated machines will only take euro coins so I had to walk in and purchase a ticket.
The train ride between Leiden and Haarlem goes through the bulb fields. Along the way, I could seem the few remaining flowers in bloom, mostly dahlias. The bulb crates were stacked along the sheds awaiting the next harvest. I also saw the first of many large white swans drifting along the canals.
The station in Haarlem is Amsterdam school of architecture. So different from the ultra-modern station in Leiden. I walked out and it took a short bit to orient myself. Soon I saw a sign for Grote Markt and headed off. It was a sleepy early afternoon. The stores were closed but it gave me a chance to do some unhurried window shopping. Several of the stores looked interesting and it would be nice to make it back up on the late night.
The Grote Markt is one of the nicer squares in Holland. The Grote Kerk (St. Bavo's) church anchors one end and the other is anchored by the stadhall. The vlesshal (meat hall)is an outstanding building with cow, sheep heads decorating the sides. Between both anchors are small cafes with their patios tumbling out on to the square. Being off season, the chairs and tables are stacked with a forlorn look of summer past.
I circled around the church and then headed towards the river for my destination of the Frans Hals museum. It is located in a former mens almshouse (poorhouse) and orphanage. The museum is a collection of artists of the Haarlem school. It is a nice collection of 16th century portraits along with still lifes and genre painting. One of the fun paintings was a wild picture of dutch proverbs by Pieter Brueghel the younger. Fortunately, it had a chart which explained each of the proverbs.
I warmed up with a cappuccino before heading out to walk along the river Spaarne which curves along the edge of the center of town. Along the way, is the Tyler museum which is a eccentric collection of late 18th century natural history and science. It includes some amazing items like an electrostatic generator. I had visited it before so I decided to walk back to the square for a beer at the Cafe Studio. It was on the list of beer places selling the local Haarlem beer Jopenbier. They also had several bokbeirs on top. I tried to get a Jopen Bok but they were out so I settled for a regular Jopen. It was light in color, slightly sweet with a nice head. It was served in a large bowled tulip glass. I ordered directly at the bar and watched it being poored. The bartender would fill it and then wait and top the glass. He would then take a knife like item and scrap the top of the glass to level the foam.
It was time to head off to Amsterdam for dinner. I had choosen the De Belhamel which had good write ups in both Time Out and Frommer's. It was still early so I walked around the canals until 6pm. De Belhamel has a cozy art deco interior with a romantic view down Herengracht. I was able to get a front table and watch the lights come on the bridges over the canal. The style is mostly French. It has a small menu with several fish, a vegetarian and several meat. Since it was fall, there was an emphasis on game (venison, duck) with fish accents. I decided to start with an asparagus-leek mousse. It was served stylish with a scoop of the mousse in the center and with asparagus spears spoking out. It had a nice tarragon cracker and a sweet accent of rasberry or cranberry. That was a little weird but not too bad. For my main course I had a suckling pig with chantrelle mushrooms with red wine sauce and roti potatoes. The pig and mushrooms were excellent. So tender. The roti potatoes where not what I expected and had a heavy fat content. They were okay but a bit heavy for the dish. Along with the meal I had a ½ bottle of Lirac Rhone 2001. For dessert, I had a vanilla chestnut parfait with walnut liquor. It was a frozen mousse with a dark nutty carmamel on the top. I ate way too much. I also had a cappuccino which I regretted later that night when I couldn't sleep.
I took a quick walk around the block and then back to Amsterdam Centraal. It was only about 5 minutes from the train and I caught then next train. It took about 1 hour from the restaurant to Voorschoten train station and another 15 minutes to walk. The town seemed a sleep. There were very few cars on the street. But a warm wind was blowing and it was a nice walk.