Monday, July 19, 2010

Greetings from: LEIDEN

Our last day in the Netherlands. Given the yesterday’s bicycle fiasco, we decide to take it easy. Leiden: nearby, tiny, walkable. (This is not to say, of course, that we’ve discovered a part of Holland that is not walkable.) As we cross canals and wander the twisty streets, I wonder how much of travel should only be smaller towns, like Leiden. The word “charming” gets thrown about quite a bit when you read travel guides, and while large cities have their attributes, ‘charming’ is generally not among them.

On this, our pre-determined leisure day, we enjoy a morning of Dutch pancakes (mine with bacon), some tulip bulb shopping (stay tuned to Matthew’s gardening blog in the spring), and then an afternoon sitting next to the canals of Leiden, sipping tea and having snacks. The snack-based culinary drive of Holland suits me: I’m all about the little bites, nibbling on whatever’s at hand. Perhaps this is how the Dutch stay freakishly thin and tall: snacking. (Argentine restaurants also seem to be big; they’re the Dutch equivalent of sushi bars in New York City.)

Maybe small things are the way to go: small Indonesian dishes, small sandwiches, small bowls of tapenade and pesto to spread onto chunks of brown bread, small towns that let you catch your breath as small white-billed ducks pass beneath you and swim towards the crusts you throw into the canals.

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