Haarlem is a small town west off Amsterdam, 15-20 minutes by train (Sprinter or IC) from Centraal. There are trains that make a stop at Haarlem every 5-10 minutes from Centraal, so I thought it would be nice to get away for a while from the crowds in Amsterdam. Check the train schedule here.
The Haarlem Station is also not far from the town centre where St. Bavo Church / Grote Kerk is – around 2 km. It took me 20-25 minutes on foot (I did make some stops to enjoy the view).
Contrast to Amsterdam, Haarlem seemed very quiet at that time. There were of course a bunch of tourists here and there, especially in the centre where the shops and restaurants are, but nothing like Amsterdam. The locals just go about their business as usual.
St. Bavo Church
Admission: €2.5 for adults and €5 for guided tours (entrance through the souvenir shop on the ground floor).
So, according to what I read, the Gothic-styled St. Bavo church was constructed by the Catholics in the 13th century, renovated and enlarged in the 16th century and then consecrated as a cathedral. Around 19 years later, during Reformation era, just like some other Catholic churches in the Netherlands, it was taken over by the Protestants.
Built in a basilical style, this church is 140 meters long with a 80-meter-tall tower. One thing that immediately caught my attention was the big, towering organ on the west wall of the church, constructed by Christian Müller in 1738. Famous musicians such as Händel and Mozart were known to have come and played here.
Just like in Oude Kerk of Amsterdam, the floor in this church is also covered with gravestones carved with the marks and names of the deceased from centuries ago. I even read a story about a dead man’s hand that kept popping out from under the grave that they had to put a copper plate on top of the gravestone. Well, that would make a great bedtime story! 👻👻😂
Molen de Adriaan
On the way back from Grote Markt to the train station, I decided to swing by the famous windmill, Molen de Adriaan. It is around 800 meters or 10 minutes by foot north west off Grote Mark. It was already past the visiting hours by the time I got there, so I just spent some time outside enjoying the scenery. The windmill was initially constructed by Adriaan de Booys (the only cement producer in the area for 25 years) and officially opened in 1779. Since then, it has changed ownerships and use several times. In 1925 , Vereniging De Hollandsche Molen bought the windmill to prevent demolition. Unfortunately, it was burnt down in 1932 and several attempts had been made to finance its reconstruction. Currently, it is owned by the municipality of Haarlem and was reopened for public in 2002.
A Surprise Finding
On my way to the centre, I ran into an authentic Indonesian restaurant! It is run by a family from Indonesia and offers various Central Javanese dishes at affordable prices. I mean, I spent around €8.5 only for a plate full of nasi kuning (yellow rice) and a glass of hot tea! They also sell some crackers and chips from Indonesia (should’ve bought these, too). The place was quite small, there were only 2 tables to accommodate 5-6 people max and I noticed most people just got takeaways here.