Interrail day four – Leiden

1 May

This is Sunday, the day of rest, and I could do with a rest after all that travel, so I’m glad I have nowhere to go today. Instead, I’m just enjoying a sunny day in Leiden.


The day started with Leiden International Church, which was only about 25 minutes walk from my hotel. Google thought I should walk straight along the dual carriageway, in that idiosyncratic way that she has, but I preferred to take the extra five minutes to walk through a park and along a canal, exchanging cheery “goedemorgen”s with randoms.

I kept my mask on at the church, obviously, except for when I did the reading (!). I promise I did not thrust myself forward, but no one else volunteered and I couldn’t leave the poor woman hanging. They livestream their services, so the video evidence is here, starting at 32 minutes in.

After that it was a long stroll into the centre of Leiden, during which I admired their multi-use roads. Unlike in London, where bollards kept motorists from killing cyclists, or Brussels, where dumb luck stops cyclists and motorcyclists from killing pedestrians, in Leiden it’s all very nicely apportioned, with different colours and textures of road surface working with the white lines to make it very intuitive. If you get killed by a cyclist here, it’s probably your own fault.

I had decided to to The Leiden Loop, a DIY walking tour, so I bought the guide from the tourist information centre and ticked off locations one and two on my way back to a rather nice floating eatery I had previously clocked called, logically, Vloot.

Oh I do like to eat beside the canalside…

One odd thing I’ve noticed in Leiden is that they seem incapable of serving so much as a glass of water without a cocktail muddler/stirrer. At least here it was metal, unlike the two totally wasteful plastic ones from last night. Even the jugs of juice at breakfast had stirrers in!

It seems that Leiden is a bit more photogenic than I had initially thought, but you have to search for it. The Loop took me to some pretty churches, narrow streets, and even a castle. I found out that it was closely connected to the Mayflower founding fathers, that its traditional dish of hotchpotch and white bread comes from when William of Orange relieved a Spanish siege that had almost starved them, and that the cross-keys of Leiden, the town’s symbol, are from the keys of St Peter (to heaven and hell), as the first church in Leiden was dedicated to him.

Leiden University’s coat of arms, showing the cross-keys

In another odd coincidence, after finding Glasgow’s coat of arms at St Pancras, I found a church dedicated to St Pancras in Leiden!

Hoogslande Church, dedicated to St Pancras.

The rest of my evening is going to be dedicated to the snooker, especially considering I’ll be lucky to see much of it tomorrow, so I’ll head out to grab a takeaway and I’ll leave you with a bouquet of pretty photos of Leiden.


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