A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
“You’ll see why a person would want to live there forever. Dawn, morning, mid-day, night: all the same, except for the changes in the air. The air changes the color of things there. And life whirs by as quiet as a murmur…the pure murmuring of life.” – Juan Rulfo.
Are you stressed, is your thesis gnawing at all your energy reserves, do you feel like you want to recharge yourselves. If so, the perfect remedy for doing so is within your grasp. Take a day off and travel to the north of Netherlands to a small and idyllic village called Giethoorn, this is indeed the magic potion which you were looking for!
Getting to Giethoorn can be a bit of a pain as it is nearly 3 hours away from Leiden and involves travelling in Train, Bus and on foot as well. But at the end of the day the effort is truly worth it. My friend and I decided to take a day off and travel to Giethoorn and this involved taking the train to Steenwijk and then catching an hourly solitary bus from there to Giethoorn. Once at the village we were welcomed by some of the more beautiful canals I have ever gazed my eyes upon, canals that would even put Venice to shame. There happens to be many miles of canals and farmhouses with thatched roofs dating back to the 18th century. This tranquil village has no roads, and the only way to access it is by water over the many beautiful canals or on foot over its wooden arch bridges. Punters are used by the residents to get around. Cars remain a strict No, No inside the village. Originally founded by a group of fugitives around 800 years back the village rose to prominence when it was featured in the film Fanfare which was made by Bert Haanstra in the year 1958.
After having lunch from one of the canal side restaurants we visited the old earth Museum (Museum De Oude Aarde), a quite unique museum owing to the fact that this museum is dedicated exclusively to minerals and fossils, gathered from the lap of the earth and placed in an inspiring display. If 500 million year old fossils are your thing then this is definitely the place for you. The museum also happens to have an excellent shop selling souvenirs and gifts made from precious and semi-precious stones
The best way to discover the village is by the charming way of using whisper boats which are charged on an hourly basis. Once on the boat prepare to be mesmerized by the, bohemian canals, small wooden bridges, vivid flowers and colorful 200 year old thatched homes. One also has the option to go a big lake, which is no more than three or four feet deep, located slightly outside the village.
At the end of the day once you have done your entire canal cruising there is no better option than to have a coffee and chill out at one of the homely cafes by the side of the canal all the while basking in the glory of the evening sun.
So why hesitate, Pack your bags and head to Giethoorn.
NB:- All photos taken by Agnes, student of Public International law and an awesome photographer!