When a funny, handsome local offers to show you around next time you’re in town, how can you resist?
We’d kept in regular contact and got on like a house on fire, and Amsterdam is hardly the worst place to re-visit!
I hopped on a plane and D picked me up from the airport, we chatted the whole way to the parking lot just outside the city centre of Haarlem. He locked up the car and hopped on his bike with me on the back, peddling past the canals and through the city. He did all the hard graft, I got the watch the view serenely.
Haarlem is a city just outside of Amsterdam, about 10-15 minutes by train. It is very similar to Amsterdam – the picturesque canals, characteristic buildings, the cycle lanes and the cobbled streets lined with a plethora of cheese shops and bakeries are all there.
However, Haarlem seems to have a much slower, more relaxed pace. It’s not inundated with tourists left, right and centre. Haarlem in comparison has a pleasant lack of crowds, of people walking into you and beggars jumping in front of you and rattling loose change jars. It’s not full of tacky tourist traps like Madame Tussauds, and every bar isn’t extortionately priced for clueless visitors.
We arrived at the apartment (we’d already dropped off my bag and the takeaway D had kindly picked up en route to the airport).
We sat down and tucked into the Indonesian feast he had selected. Indonesian food is a big thing in Holland. In England, the predominate popularity is usually divided between Indian or Chinese cuisine, whereas in Holland, Indonesian seems to be a very clear favourite.
I could see why, the food was bloody good. I ate until I was absolutely stuffed (so nothing new there!) and there were still leftovers.
D’s flat mate came home and we all had a chat and glass of wine before deciding to go out for a drink or two.
They took me to a place a short walk down the road (given, their flat is very central), which was a cross between a bar, a brewery and a restaurant, situated in an old church.
The Jopenkerk brews all of it’s own beer, most of the products being around 10%.
I personally preferred the darker variety of beer to the lighter ones, has it had a more robust flavour.
We had a few beers there, and then headed back to the apartment to hit the hay.
We woke up the following morning, and decided to get the train into Amsterdam…