Not many would know that before Amsterdam became the hub as we know it today, a city just a 15 minute train ride away was actually the original capital of Netherlands. By Netherlands’ high standards, Haarlem has very few canals; so eventually as the importance of ports increased, the capital moved to Amsterdam and that is precisely the reason why traces of the medieval era are quite common to stumble upon in this charming city. In the few days I spent here, I was truly smitten by the wonder called Haarlem.
What’s more Dutch than cycling in Netherlands, by the canals, across picture perfect windmills, across green meadows with highlander cows and sheep dotting them? On a delightfully beautiful and sunny morning I decided to cycle from Amsterdam to a picture perfect village on its outskirts and discover a gem at the end of the ride!
Some of the most popular cities in Europe are struggling with heavy influx of tourists such that the locals are now an annoyed lot. Cities are now geared towards catering to tourists – real estate prices are higher, unruly tourists spoil the city, the locals no longer remember their city as theirs. These cities are slowly turning into Disneyland of sorts and in search of authenticity, a traveler has to look beyond the main attractions.
I was recently presented with the wonderful opportunity to explore parts of Netherlands for the first time. There is much to see, much to experience and a lot to cycle in this country but my time was short. Many visitors to this country start and finish their itineraries in Amsterdam. To experience a slightly quieter and a more local experience, I decided to stay during my travels in the medieval city of Haarlem instead and visit Amsterdam as day trips.