HAARLEM, THE NETHERLANDS — Before there was Uptown Funk, there was old town charm. The original Haarlem has more than just an extra ‘A’ to offer.
Existential discussions of home aside, we did borrow a real home for our visit to Amsterdam: a little rental flat in the heart of the Jordaan. Our friends Carl and Lisa joined us for the first time, so of course we needed to showcase some of Amsterdam’s gems — the Bulldog, the Reichsmuseum, Brouwerij T’ij.
But we also found new things to fall in love with.
Top of the list was renting a couple town bikes and pedaling out to Haarlem, Amsterdam’s quieter older brother, some twenty kilometers away. There we floated along country canals and through the multicolored tulip fields that make this town world famous.
On either side, flowers every color of the rainbow grew quietly. Unfortunately it seems we missed peak season by a week or two, but still as a slight breeze picked up, it smelled and felt like heaven.
Some 20 kilometers of pedaling — even on the flat plains of the Netherlands — builds up a mighty thirst. So we made our way back to the heart of the old town and sought out one of the most unique breweries in the world.
Brouwerij Jopen harkens back to Haarlem’s heyday as a brewing centerpiece, some five centuries ago. Reestablished in 1990 after two centuries of shuttered door, the new brewery set up shop a couple years ago in an old protestant church — aptly named Jopenkerk. The beautiful combination of stained glass, greystone and copper kettles gives you one of the most unique drinking experiences anywhere. Oh and the bier was good too.
So we sip, we savor, we wonder and we wait. Is this the last time? Maybe. But probably not. After all, every day is a homecoming if your home always the place at the end of the road.