A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
A true Dutch experience for a Leiden University student is not complete without a cruise through the canals of Leiden. To celebrate your graduation or to say farewell to Leiden you can have a boat tour with your friends, classmates or family in a beautiful sunny summer day. As I have already had a boat tour in Leiden, this year I decided to take a route outside of Zuid-Holland and I went to beautiful Breukelen instead!
Although it takes around 8 hours to fly to Brooklyn, the city named after Breukelen, you can reach to Breukelen around 50 minutes by train from Leiden Centraal – unless you have your own boat to sail to Breukelen from Leiden of course! Here, you can rent a boat as a group from one of the companies located on the shores of Loosdrechtse Plassen. Do not worry about the prices as they are quite affordable for students. After renting your boat, you can sail to discover Breukelen through its canals and lakes while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
While sailing around the little islands, I realized more or less all the islands have a flagstaff. However, not of all them had their flag raised. As I heard, since the owners are allowed only for a certain period of the year to reside in their properties, raising the flag had become a way of `letting know` the others that the owners are home.
Thanks to its connected waterways, you can sail more or less everywhere in the Netherlands from Breukelen. Because of this, it is a very famous thoroughfare in the Netherlands and hosts thousands of boats, yachts and all other vessels that I am unable to identify.
There are many options to enjoy your voyage in Breukelen. Obviously, you can sail to different routes to discover different parts of the Netherlands. Other than that, you can enjoy the scenery of the canals and lakes, have a swimming stop or have a picnic at one of the little islands. You can even find spots to play volleyball or buy delicious ice-creams on some of the islands.
Breukelen is known for its large and majestic mansions many of which were constructed by wealthy 17th century merchants. You may wish to get yourself familiar with the stories about some of these famous mansions before taking the tour here – or you can just call a local friend of yours to join the voyage… I was lucky enough to have a friend on board who was born and raised in Breukelen. Thanks to him, I have learnt, for example, that the fancy building made my jaw dropped is actually a prison!
Maybe the most famous building you can see here is the Nyenrode castle that hosts the Nyenrode Business University. For me, the most interesting trivia about this castle is that Albert Heijn was graduated from Nyenrode Business University.
Having a cruise through the canals of Leiden is a must for all Leiden University students. However, if you would like to have a unique experience and avoid the mainstream, you can choose to sail in Breukelen.
Have you ever had a boat tour in the Netherlands? How was your experience? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!