Dordrecht Day Trip
Dordrecht is the oldest city in the Netherlands and falls into the category of ‘ridiculously cute Dutch town.’ It is the fourth largest city in the provence of South Holland. The city is built in the Rhine delta, and like many Dutch towns is full of picturesque canals, bridges and boats.
Our visit fell on Sinterklaas’ arrival into Dordrecht and also on one of the coldest days we’ve seen since moving here. On our bike ride to Delft station, the bridges and greenery were covered in ice.
Dordrecht is a perfect day trip from The Hague, Delft and Rotterdam as it is easily reachable by train and has plenty of offerings. There are 7 historic churches and 6 museums. We took the train and made the easy walk from central station into the market square.
As we approached the square the fire department had one of their trucks parked in the street. The boys are crazy for rescue vehicles so we stopped to chat. H got a chance to sit in the driver’s seat. O was much too shy but liked seeing the truck up close.
Our Saturday visit meant that the market was in full swing. It was quite a bit larger than our Delft market, but we didn’t spend much time exploring, opting instead to check out the sights. You could easily make a lunch though out of the market offerings – fried fish, fries, oliebollen, stroopwaffles and much more were all available.
The entrance to the museum has stunningly huge trees.
There were leaves covering the lawn. The kids could not resist running around and burning some energy off trying to catch the falling leaves.
The museum is mainly full of paintings, although they had a temporary exhibit on artifacts from Bulgaria which includes the oldest gold in the world.
The front desk gave H a children’s activity page. He spent most of his visit sporting his “museum inspector pin” and drawing pictures of his favorite paintings. Upon completion of the activity he earned some museum window clings.
The museum has little stools you can borrow in the coat check area. These are great since many of the rooms do not have places to sit. We like to keep our handsy two year old strapped in during museum visits. We had no trouble taking the stroller through the museum.
Our original lunch plans were thrown into chaos by the arrival of Sinterklaas. Instead of fighting the crowds with hungry children, we opted for lunch at the museum.
The restaurant is lovely. I poked into a few of the private rooms. I need to get myself invited to an event here! The menu was full of traditional Dutch fare and we all easily found something to eat that ranged from tomato soup to krokets and egg sandwiches.
We popped into a small garden adjacent to the museum. We thought we were visiting the Kloostertuin (Cloister Gardens) but the pictures on the linked page don’t look like the lovely garden we were in.
It is possible we were in some sort of private residence complex. Regardless it was quite lovely inside and worth the peek.
The walk around town gives you an idea of how old the city is. The old buildings and walls are charming.
As we walked through town we came across the Sint parade and discovered that Sinterklaas himself would be there shortly. At H’s urging we decided to stay and wait for the man in red.
He arrived shortly after on his white horse. H was thrilled. We also had our first pepernoten, a speculaas cookie, of the season.
There was a band and dancing, balloons, carnival rides and plenty of kids in costume.
We walked past the statehouse, city hall.
Our final stop was the Grote Kirk which was built in stages between 1285 and 1470, resulting in a variety of architectural styles. The kids loved running around inside.
They were tuning a piano during our visit, providing an erie soundtrack to our visit. There are plenty of things to see inside the church, although like many of the churches in Holland this one feels disjointed with no real focal point (darn Protestant Reformation). I loved these bronze gates though in the center of the church.
A visit to the church is free but if you want to climb the tower it costs a few Euros. We bypassed the tower climb due to tired children.
We enjoyed our walk back to the train station through some of the quieter streets in town. Having seen only a fraction of Dordrecht we are sure to be back, hopefully on a warmer day!