A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Happy Easter everyone! Marvel at lent lilies, going on an Easter egg hunt outside in the mild spring weather, finding eggs hidden behind wonderfully blooming trees and flowers, sitting around an Easter bonfire – a beautiful imagination isn’t it? But well, you shouldn’t count your chickens before they’re hatched, should you?
We all ask ourselves the same question at the moment; where the hell has the spring been hiding? My Facebook newsfeed is full of posts complaining about snow on Easter; people are sick of the coldness, darkness, tiredness — not to mention frozen hands on bicycles. Sitting inside on your sofa, with a cosy blanket and a great book – yes, fair enough, that’s a wonderful picture for the winter season, but come on, it’s April already; at some point it should be enough with the cosiness shouldn’t it?
But what can we do against it? I guess we just have to be patient; we can’t do anything except hope and wait for warmer temperatures. But whilst doing so, we can dream of lovely things we can finally do when it gets warmer. And I promise, we will appreciate them even more then.
Thinking back of my first spring in Leiden, I can assure you, Leiden is just one of the best places to live in the spring and summer time; all the canals reflect the bright sun, all the flowers in bloom, all the wonderful old buildings which look even more beautiful in the light of a summer sunset. And cycling in the twilight of a mild summer night and looking at the canals is just one of the best things I can imagine.
Believe me, we will soon have that all! Here are some things I am most looking forward to do:
1) Having a wine or beer with my friends on one of the boats on the Nieuwe Rijn. I remember my very first day in Leiden, I came here to look for a room and a girl was so kind as to give me a first tour around Leiden. We sat at Meneer Jansen and chatted away. By now, this image has become so normal that I almost take it for granted, but I remember that I was just so impressed by the fact that I was actually sitting on a boat, drinking my wine. I can’t wait to do that again.
2) Botanical Garden: to be honest, I have never seen the Botanical Garden in spring and summer time, but I heard it is just awesome. Your student card will give you a free entry.
3) Having picnics with my friends. Leiden has so many wonderful spots for sitting and lying on the grass and enjoying food, drinks, the warm weather and good company. My favourite picnic places are van der Werfpark, de Burcht and the area around the canal at Witte Single.
4) Going for a walk at Cronesteyn: I just love that place hidden behind the second station of Leiden “Lammenschaans”. Follow Lammenschaansweg and then turn left in front of the station, cross the bridge and you will find yourself in the middle of pure nature. Windmills, fields, canals, cows and chickens; sounds really romantic doesn’t it?
5) The Seaside. As I grew up in the middle of Germany, being able to reach the coast within a 20 minute bike ride still sounds incredible for me. I can’t wait to cycle there after a study day to have picnic dinner or even spend a whole Sunday there, to go swimming, play volleyball or just read a book.
6) Would you like to check out your biking abilities and go on a bigger bike trip? Den Haag or Haarlem are in perfect biking-distance and furthermore can be reached by lovely roads through nature.
7) Rent a rowing boat: this is one of my favourite memories of late summer last year. Four girls on a rowing boat — nobody has done that before. It took us at least one hour to find out how to steer this thing and we arrived half an hour too late to hand it back to the renting place, but that didn’t matter, we had just so much fun. You can rent boats at a place near Beestenmarkt, 4 people can sit in a boat and it costs 7 euros per boat for an hour. http://www.botenverhuurleiden.nl/english/
8) Keukenhof: have you heard of the massive tulip park in the Netherlands? The website says you will see more than 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, all in bloom. I have to admit, I have never been there, so I can’t give a personal recommendation but I have heard only good things about it and I certainly will go there as soon as it gets warmer. You can either reach the park by bike or by bus and it costs 15 euro: http://www.keukenhof.nl/en/
9) Zaanse Schans: have you heard of this old Dutch village just 20 minutes away from Leiden? Though it’s quite touristy and a bit tacky, it will be the perfect destination for another spring day trip as most of the sights are outside. And it’s even free.
If you want to find out more about it, read Emma’s blog post about it: http://theleidener.com/2012/04/23/zaanse-schans-the-home-of-the-dutch-stereotype/
10) Ice cream! In defiance of this cold weather, I had my first ice cream this year yesterday, but yes, I do have to admit that it didn’t taste as good as it would have if I was sitting in the sun with just a jumper instead of my warmest winter coat.
Leiden offers a good amount of ice cream shops around the town. My favourite is the one on the Beestenmarkt, as I love to have a little wander around the little harbour whilst enjoying my ice cream. However, the two shops at Nieuwe Rijn are good as well. Especially Australian, the shop at the corner, which is known for its good ice cream combinations.
Look at that, my dear spring, Leiden can be an amazing and exciting place to be. There is no reason to delay your arrival any longer! We are looking forward to finally welcoming you!