Delft makes for a lovely weekend getaway

I have to hand it to D. When it comes to planning weekend getaways, he has a pretty good record. One recent Friday afternoon we escaped in spectacular fashion (…meaning we sat in three hours of traffic between Brussels and Antwerp…) to the Netherlands. If you don’t leave on a Friday evening, Delft is only an hour and forty minutes drive north from Brussels, making it perfect for a quick weekend trip.

Delft is friendly, easily navigated and gorgeous at night. Walking around, there are four things you simply cannot ignore: canals, blue and white china, bikes and William of Orange. {More after the jump.}

The city is sprinkled with canals and as such, most of the town is pedestrian. This does not necessarily make it any safer… we spent the first few hours literally jumping out of the way of bicycles. But it does make it quiet {if you ignore the “dings” of the bicycle bells} – just what we needed after a hectic few weeks at work.

The city is famous for its blue and white pottery, or Delftware, which became extremely popular in the 16th century. Stores selling anything and everything in blue and white (tiny porcelain elephants, which I happened to purchase, included). You can still visit the factory of Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles, the only original workshop left of the 32 at the craft’s peak in the 17th century.

The city also pays tribute everywhere to William of Orange, known as the father of the modern Netherlands who led the Dutch revolt against the Spanish. You simply cannot avoid his story if you spend time in Delft. He was assassinated in the Prinsenhof, now an excellently restored museum, where you can trace the interesting geopolitics and art history of the Netherlands. William is buried in the New Church on the central square – also the spot of Royal Dutch weddings and funerals.

The New Church marks the spot where we learned the meaning behind the common phrase “The Stinking Rich”. In the middle ages, only the rich could afford to be buried in churches, where they were laid to rest under the floors of the central nave. Sanitary conditions being what they were, the smell was a reminder of where they were buried… and there is your disgusting but educational fact of the day…

A more pleasant fact: Vermeer’s beautiful “Girl with a Pearl Earring” was painted in Delft and can be seen The Hague, just a 20 minute drive away.

We had some lovely meals while in Delft. We sheltered from the rain under the awnings of Zondag cafe {their hummus sandwich is something to rave about}. I had a cinnamon latte and D ordered a refreshing homemade mint-lemon ice tea.

But the main highlight of Delft was our dinner the night we arrived. The restaurant ‘t Vermeertje was just what we needed after three hours in the car. A rather traditional menu served with modern flare, this place is an absolute steal. Tiny, with some eight tables, this is the perfect place to sit back for a few hours over a nice bottle of wine and great food. Their three course menu, from which you get to choose from some five dishes for each course, costs only 36 euros. We raved about it all the way back to the hotel.

We stayed at the Bridges House Hotel in what must be the largest yet most sparsely decorated hotel room in the Netherlands. I seriously could have done cartwheels across the center of the room {sadly, a recent try in Philly demonstrated I’ve lost my superb cartwheel skills of my childhood}. The location was great and I loved breakfast because it came with tiny boxes of chocolate sprinkles to put on your toast. I will, however, say the pictures on their website are not very accurate.

Certainly worth a visit and, I wager, stunning at Christmas time. Start planning your weekend trip!

  1. Wonderful shots. I love photo #2 in particular — the heraldry shields above the doorway.

  2. I’ve never been to Delft. Looks like a very nice destination for a city break in Europe! 🙂

  3. I also really liked the posters. In general, the city is very beautiful.Thank you for interesting post! 🙂

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