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Scoping out a choir visit to the Netherlands

We’ve been hoping to take the Lewes Singers to Holland for some time now – we planned and booked an inspection visit back in April 2020, but we all know what happened then.

So we finally made it in October 2022 – we stayed in The Hague and made visits to Leiden, Delft, Amsterdam and (briefly) Utrecht. We were very lucky with the weather – dry and pleasant.

Old Delft

First revelation – Delft is but a tram ride from The Hague. It’s as historic and scenic as we expected…

Old Church
The tower of the Oude Kerk leans this much
Johannes Vermeer memorial
The very modest Johannes Vermeer memorial in Oude Kerk
View of Delft from the New Church

Later that day we took the tram again, this time to the other side of The Hague to Scheveningen which turned out to be a full-on seaside resort with an impressive double decker pier, casinos and holiday shops galore.

scheveningen beach, holland

… so there I was on the beach, wearing a T shirt, on my birthday – only a week before Bonfire Night!

The Hague itself was more intimate and pedestrian-friendly that I imagined it would be, with a wide range of architectural styles…

This pretty dolls-house building is part of the Mauritzhaus art gallery. I wasn’t sure whether I’d like a gallery dedicated to 17th century Dutch art, but how wrong I was. I absolutely loved the portraits and still lives, and in a gorgeous setting.

We also managed to catch the ‘Escher at the Paleis’ exhibition just before it closed. Another wonderful display of art in an extraordinary building.

Looking down from the gallery in St Peter's Rome, by MC Escher
Looking down from the gallery in St Peter’s Rome, by MC Escher
Mobius / Escher
Mobius by MC Escher

On the third day we travelled to Leiden (by bus, as the trains weren’t running). The town is famous for its ancient university, network of canals and yet more beautiful architecture, all on a much smaller scale than Amsterdam (and 100% less touristy!)

Leiden

One of the highlights was the Botanical Gardens, which we rather stumbled upon.

On Saturday we were treated to a tour of Amsterdam with a Dutch friend of ours, Freek, who is a choir conductor. It’s Freek’s choir that we’re hoping to perform with when we take the Lewes Singers over there. We went into some interesting churches, and attended an excellent Evensong at an Anglican church just a stonesthrow from Amsterdam’s busy main station. The canals and old streets of Amsterdam are beautiful, if you can see past the overflow of visitors, sex-n-drugs tourists and cyclists (who appear to have right of way everywhere – we saw a couple of near-misses and my nerves were jangling by the end of the day.) We ended the day taking a small-group cruise with champagne and snacks – which was great fun – before haring it back to The Hague on the train.

 

On our last day we visited Utrecht, albeit fleetingly. Freek was playing for the morning service in a very cute little church there, Holy Trinity, and we enjoyed exploring the neighbourhood.

Holy Trinity Church, Utrecht

 

 

Published inCultureArtChurchesHistoryHolidays

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