After a night of sleep and a hearty breakfast, we set off for a new destination and jump on a train bound for Haarlem.
Haarlem, built in the 10th century, is known for being a port city, for growing tulips and for its long history, today it is a delightful medieval village to visit absolutely.
Walking from the station towards the centre, we find the stacked houses, the narrow streets full of shops, antique dealers and pastry shops, and the Hofjes which hide internal courtyards from which it is possible to browse the life of the inhabitants. The historic heart of Haarlem beats in the shadow of the church of De Grote St. Bavokerk which – pointed – dominates the Grote Markt square.
Stalls in the market square sell local cheese, fresh flowers and handicrafts. The city is abuzz on an ordinary summer morning. In the surroundings of the church are located De Gouden Straatjes, numerous alleys intertwine in which there are other boutiques and numerous restaurants.
We reach the canal to observe the city from a different perspective and the atmosphere is even more delightful and perfect for some photographs. The boats cross the main channel while the passengers relax eating, drinking or simply enjoying the warm sun. We also spot the old De Adriaan Windmill – built in 1778 and rebuilt in 1932 – which reminds us exactly where we are.
Lunchtime has arrived and we find a seat at Metzo, where we order revisited club sandwiches and cola with ice. After the coffee, we realize that we have fully savoured the essence of Haarlem and that we are ready to escape the summer heat by going to the beach.
In a few minutes by train, we return to our rental car and head towards Blomendal Aan Zee beach. To get there we travel a road of holiday homes and sumptuous villas, we observe families and teenagers moving around on bikes loaded with beach accessories and we already hear the call of the North Sea.
A large beach and verdant sand dunes are there waiting for us, together with numerous bathers. Initially, our idea was to rest in the sun but the heat is so scorching that we can’t resist and therefore we decide to boldly face the small jellyfish that crowd the sea. We are willing to do anything for a little refreshment.
Finally, we can really relax, despite the heat does not seem to want to give us a break.
At sunset, we decide that the time has come to set off again to get to the hotel that will host us for the night.
We booked a room in Amstelveen, a small town that looks a lot like the ones on TV. After a refreshing shower, we go out for a bite to eat and discover that the small town has everything one needs: an Asian restaurant, an Italian one, a couple of pubs, various shops and even a contemporary art museum.
The tolling of the church resounds as we wander off in search of a supermarket and a garden where we can eat fresh fruit and enjoy a little breeze. As we walk past the beautiful houses with lights on, we are passed by a group of lively teenagers on bikes, their laughter echoing through the deserted street.
It seems to be in one of those typical coming-of-age novels dedicated to unforgettable summers.
And we are ready to experience yet another journey within a journey because the next day we will leave for the Frisian Islands.
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