A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
After having read Yuri’s post about his grandmother’s visit at the beginning of this year (http://theleidener.com/2013/02/09/leiden-for-all/) , I just couldn’t wait for my two grandmothers, or Omas, to arrive. In contrast to Yuri’s brave and energetic grandmother, who came all the way from another continent, my Omas, having lived in a village in Germany all their lives and having never travelled without their husbands, needed quite a lot of convincing (or rather encouragement) to come visit me. But I knew what could convince them: 7 million flowers at Keukenhof — Omas just love flowers. Back in February, when everything was dark and cold, the thought of May, sun and flowers seemed so far away; but last Friday, the day finally came: my Omas arrived in Leiden.
Lots of my friends were surprised my Omas came together to visit me. For me that was an obvious decision, as they have been friends since they were three. Having grown up next door to each other, they spent their whole childhood together, but, after married men from different towns, they parted ways — that is until my parents went to the same high school. Now they are a real dream team.
Before they arrived I was thinking about what to do with them apart from going to the Keukenhof. Considering they’re both 84 and have problems with walking made even distances in Leiden which seem ridiculously short for us appear as a marathon to them. I had to find a hotel which was easy to be reached and which provided a lift (I ended up booking a room in the Best Western Hostel near Haarlemmerstraat which I can highly recommend for both price and service), choose restaurants for dinner which were close by (the pizzeria Donatella was their favourite) and find out how to use the bus as I have never done that before.
But I underestimated my Omas quite a lot — excited to explore the city I live in, we actually made it around the whole of Leiden, stopping every so often for a coffee break, even went to my flat (bummer I didn’t expect them to manage to climb up my narrow stairs and hadn’t tidied up), went to the beach to collect seashells as one of my Omas had never seen the sea before and spent the whole sunday at Keukenhof.
But the absolute highlight for them was the market where they bought some lovely fabric (for all the sewing fans out there, the prices are apparently very cheap). I even managed to convince them to try a herring in the Dutch style. What made them love the market even more might have been the fact that they got to know my friend Leo, a fellow German and a friendly and talkative medicine student and therefore THE Oma darling.
Unfortunately, the weekend is already over and I had to wave goodbye yesterday morning. But we had a great time and it should be proven again: Leiden is not only a place for students, it is indeed a very Oma-friendly city. Though they had to get used to the bikers cycling around everywhere, they thought of Leiden as a calm and harmonious city in which they could leave their granddaughter without worrying too much. As they stayed in the city centre, everything was close by and if it wasn’t or they became a bit exhausted, we always managed to find a bus stop or took a taxi.
Not only was it a great experience as I have never spent that much time in a row just with the two of them but also because I got to know Leiden out of a completely new perspective. They pointed out things and observed details in the city which I am not even paying attention to. If you have a grandmother that is still as fit as my ones, I would highly encourage you to invite her over.