near the end of the line, in Leiden

we spend our last two nights in Europe for 2010

Holland feels more like home than abroad, an impression reinforced strongly by the extraordinary linguistic capacities of the Dutch. As Brits we feel a mixture of shame and embarrassment when we roll up in a restaurant, hotel or shop, for it is almost as rare to find a Nederlander who doesn’t speak English at least competently and most likely fluently, as it would be to find a Brit who could scratch together so much as an order for two beers in Dutch.

Leiden is an impressive city, architecturally akin to Amsterdam, but a quieter town and easier to escape the congestion.


That said, it’s not a good idea to bring a car into the central part of Leiden, where the streets are mostly one-way and attempts to get from A to B generally involve passing via C, D, E, F & G as canals repeatedly open up in your path and force lengthy and circuitous diversions.


Our hotel room overlooks a canal, and also an English pub. Not really what you want to find when you’re nearing the end of a trip. But at least the clientele is Dutch.

The hotel itslf occupies one of the grand merchants’ houses which line so many of the canals

Hotel De Doelen

and a strong sense of faded grandeur pervades it

Dining room, Hotel De Doenen

The town itself has a more modern feel: impossible to image Holland in the days before bicycles, or to envisage a future without windmills

And that’s about it for summer 2010. Next day was up to Ijmuiden and aboard the ferry back to Newcastle-upon-Tyne.