A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
I’ve just spent the hottest weekend of the year in the place with the highest temperature in the country. I went to Limburg, and I loved it.
Limburg, in the south east of the country, is about as far away as you can get from Leiden in the Netherlands, taking about 3 hours by train. It has a reputation for strange accents, carnival, and an extremely independent character. Gone were the flat, wet fields interspersed by cows, tulips and windmills, and in rolled soft hills and dense forests.
We were lucky enough to be invited to stay with a friend at his family home, where chickens roamed freely across the expansive garden and cats lay in the shade of the trees. It was truly a little piece of paradise, so far removed from the lively bustle of Leiden. Suddenly, it seemed, summer was upon us, and we were in the best place to enjoy it.
We spent a lot of time just relaxing in the shade, as the temperature rose with every passing day. In Limburg I was introduced to two new delicious things: elderflower cordial, and smores. Smores! Roasted marshmallow smushed in between melty chocolate biscuits- how did I not know about this before? It’s my new favourite thing. And so, we spent long evenings barbecuing as the sun set and the stars came out. Because we were right out in the countryside, we had amazingly clear skies and could see so many stars, and constellations that I’d forgotten about since living in Leiden. And we even saw some shooting stars…
One day we hired out canoes, and spent an afternoon gliding lazily down a river. Apparently, it is the fastest flowing river in the Netherlands, but given the snail’s pace we were going at, I’m not convinced by its supposed speed. As the day heated up to above 30 degrees, we jumped in the cold river and swam, trying to avoid the long, tentacle-like weeds which grabbed at our legs like sea monsters. The next day, as the temperature peaked at 35, we headed for a nearby lake, and again dived in. Despite the amount of water in Leiden, it is rare that I get a chance to swim. Leiden’s canals are, shall we say, not the cleanest, and you have to negotiate an obstacle course of sunken bikes. So, it was utterly gorgeous to swim in cool, clear water.
It was a long, hot, sticky, sweaty and stinky train ride back to Leiden, and when I arrived back at my attic flat a waft of hot air blasted by face as I opened the front door. What a furnace. More escapes to the countryside, please!