Travels

Delft to myselft.

Tuesday 31 July. Having to be back mid-afternoon to get my bottom bracket replaced, I got up early and dashed to Delph. The hour-long ride alone would have made the day, following a wonderful cycle path through beautiful countryside beside mirrored canals.

I arrived in Delft just before 09:00. The town was waking up, hence I had Delft to myselft. I chained the bike by the old church and wandered to the town square to continue my William First of Orange tour. Quite a character, he created Holland as it is, something acknowledged in the national colour of orange, although their flag is red, white and blue.

William (Protestant) couldn’t be buried in his home town of Breda (see earlier post on Breda) as the Spanish (Catholics) had occupied it. So he set his seat of government in Delft but was assassinated in his house there. That house is now the Museum Het Prinsenhof.

Aaaaanyway, back to the town square. It has an ornate town hall at one end, and the ‘new’ church at the other, and it is in that church that William is entombed, in style.

The church also has a tower to climb, to some awesome views from a rather narrow parapet. I’m not bad with heights but I kept my back pressed to the wall when taking pictures.

New church tower from beside the town hall.
The town hall from the tower
The old church from the new church
Another church. No small building but from the tower it looks diminutive.

After wandering around and, as every turn offered a good shot, taking a load of pictures, I went to the Prince’s house, Prinsenhof, which now hosts exhibitions on William’s life, Delft pottery and other local stuff. Spookily, it also preserves the bullet holes on the stairway where William was assassinated.

William has the dubious distinction of being the first head of state assassinated by a firearm.

Delft is a gem. Highly recommended for a romantic weekend. Amsterdam is great and has the galleries, but Delft has the canals and culture without the crowds.

I headed back to Maassluis, got the bike sorted and had a shower. I’d spotted a barbershop yesterday (closed as it was a Monday) and it was time to trim the barnet.

Nobody but Lisa has cut my hair for over twenty years, so I was taking a flyer walking into a barbershop in Holland, but what’s the worst that could happen? It went well. The guy spoke English and said he could fit me in in half an hour. The shop was full of vinyl records and was idiosyncratic to say the least, but it turned out to be a great experience, meeting good people and having a laugh at the world. I came out looking like Donald Sutherland and with another memory to cherish.

The random nature of my journey keeps throwing up wonderful moments, surprises, and interactions with good people who, in other circumstances, could become friends.

A final fact about Delft: in the 1600’s it was big on public autopsies. In the Prinsenhof exhibition there was a skull, excavated nearby, clearly the result of such an autopsy, displayed with surgical tools.

After a day of memorials and assassinations, it was a reminder that one minute you’re Donald Sutherland, the next you’ve got nothing to hang your hair on!

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