When planning a weekend to the Netherlands, most people put Amsterdam at the top of their list. A city that's known for its red light district, 'Coffee Shops' and Stag Dos. The city of canals, boats and drunken Brits. Amsterdam is one of the most popular and exciting cities in Europe, but how about I suggest a different city in the Netherlands. Delft is the hidden gem located in the northern part of Holland. It sits peacefully between the student city of the Hague and the innovative hub of Rotterdam. It's quaint canals and cobbled streets ooze the characteristics of Amsterdam but with a lot more charm.
Delft is the manufacturing base for Delftware- you know that blue and white painted pottery that seems to be plastered everywhere, along with the girl in the pearl earring. Delft has lively markets and bustling restaurants boasting a variety of cuisines. With just a short train journey to almost anywhere, you're able to spend the day getting lost in the big cities and then retire to the peacefulness of Delft.
Thursday is market day. Locals surround the 150 closely packed stalls to buy fish, fruit, sweets and vegetables. As I tuck into my chips and mayo from the food van in the market, a group of dancers flood the square. With a beat of the drum and some erotic dancing, the three girls shake their hips to the rhythm. The men in the crowds are fixated on the half-naked girls jumping around in a bra and knickers, their wives too are watching as the performers weave in between the stalls. A liberal country, I remind myself as I watch the women tap their hips with each movement.
The medieval town of Delft is also home to an abundance of culture, particularly in relation to art. The famous painter Johannes Vermeer was born and lived in Delft during the Golden Age. There is also a plentiful collection of museums in the city. The most popular including; Museum Prinsenhof Delft, Royal Delft and Vermeer's own museum- Vermeer Centrum Delft.
But Delft is not only a city of painters and potters, it also has a great selection of high street stores. Walk down Jacob Gerritstraat just off the main square and become absorbed in the shopping experience. The body shop, Van Uffelen and of course Hema on Molslaan street.
FOOD AND DRINK
There is a fabulous selection of bars, cafes and restaurants in Delft. As you wander down the lamp post lit canals, the bustling of the restaurants exudes a cultural ambience. Share a bottle of wine in the market square or indulge in a pizza down the alley of a restaurant. The taste buds will tingle with every bite and every sip as you indulge in Delft's city life.