Saturday dawned with odd weather. Sunshine, followed by brief spits of rain. But if you let a little rain stop you in the Netherlands, you’ll stay home. All. The. Time. SRSLY. It can rain for two minutes and the sun burst through. Or it can drizzle miserably for hours. Netherlanders forge ahead. Just beware of puddles. And bikes that swoosh through them. Trust me. I found out the hard way.
Ton and I had planned to return to Haarlem on this trip. I love Haarlem. It is very old, very small and very, very beautiful. I had been to the Frans Hals museum, and St. Bavokerk (though I was glad to see that they had given the steeple a renovation and shiny coat of gilding) but I had never been to the Teyler’s Museum. It’s a science museum but the building itself warrants a visit.
Grand architecture at it’s finest! From the domed ceiling of the foyer,
to the intricately wrought floor grates,
everything is an exercise in perfection.
The Teyler’s Museum is the oldest museum in the Netherlands, having opened in 1794. I was very disappointed to learn that the oldest part of the museum, the Oval Room, was closed for renovations. But there was so much to see that I wasn’t disappointed for long. The collections of the museum are arranged chronologically, forming a tour of science and discovery through the ages.
There's no interior lights in the majority of the museum. It was built before the electric lights and they want to preserve the original architecture as much as possible. Some evenings, they even do guided tours by torchlight! How cool would that be?!?
Almost as cool as running into someone you know while in a museum in another country! Which probably isn't all THAT cool when you hear it is Ton's sister, Marianne. But I was still very shocked when a woman waved at me (the Dutch aren't notoriously open and friendly with strangers) while I was walking down the aisle. It took a moment, and a double-take on my part for it to register. I was very happy she decided to spend her day off in the same museum. Serendipity, no??
Teyler's was having a special exhibition on the myth and mystique of an artist's studio but I was honestly so taken with the building, I could see very little else.
Especially this stairway to the second floor, which was closed for a private party. I was allowed to sneak up to the landing and take a few photos!
And the it was time to leave, via the grand entry way with its gorgeous carvings and dark wood.
After picking up our coats (yes we needed coats it was very cold and windy) we headed out into Haarlem, to wander around and just enjoy being in a city that feels so much like Antwerp but still decidedly practical and very, very Dutch.
The glory that is St. Bavokerk
See the blue sky in that photo? It is deceiving. It rained not twenty minutes after that photo was taken. I had to wear a hat. My poor hair stylist would be appalled by the state of my hair after THAT. We decided to forgo getting wetter and stop for dinner at an international fusion restaurant, Specktakel. Marianne recommended it and I have to say, she wasn't wrong to do so. The food was, well, spectacular.
It started off well enough-- a nice, warm loaf of crusty bread, fruity olive oil and a bowl of indian spice mix. Went very well with the wine!
Then the appetizers started arriving. And it got a little bit dicey. Looks harmless, no??
Mr. DeMille, he's ready for his close up:
Ton, not being much of a foodie, failed to read the complete description of his appetizer and was thus very surprised to see that his aged beef salad contained crispy crickets. I noticed it the minute they put his plate on the table but dismissed it as misshapen lumps of beef. Oh, no. They were crickets all right. He ate one before he realized it. The others were gently laid on the side of his plate. He said he was relieved when he found a second one. One cricket means the kitchen is dirty. Two crickets can't be a mistake!
My crab dim sum was much better.
As was Marianne's salmon tartar with caviar. Mmmmm. Caviar.
Ton's main course was much more sedate. Nothing had jumped on his plate that wasn't supposed to be there- just tandoori lamb, spiced potatoes and mango pickle!
Marianne had Miso cooked salmon that arrived in a beautiful bento box presentation.
I opted for Italian chicken saltimbocca. I was torn, though. I really thought about the Antelope sosaties. But after the cricket incident, I played it safe. Besides, it had Parmesan foam. Who could say no to that?!?! And aubergines, too. Mmm.
We all decided to have the chocolicious coffee—espresso, chocolate crème brulee, chocolate liquor and truffles.
After all that food, we headed back to the train station, taking the scenic route to walk off some calories. I present, Haarlem by night!
Teyler's Museum and Spaarne Straat.
Big, winged-foot statue!
(That's me walking down the street for a moody photo!)
We dropped Marianne off at the train station so that she could head home to Leiden. Then we hopped on the next bus to Amstelveen. It had been a great day—long and tiring but very good! And I leave you now with one last photo, complete with caption and jaunty hat!
Who watches the watchers??
(You can view the rest of the set, if you're so inclined, on my Flickr account.