For UK based pilots, the Netherlands is just a short hop away and a great place for a quick weekend trip. In fact, we have posted a few trip reports about visiting the Netherlands in the past and have posted guides for the main points of entry: Rotterdam (EHRD) and Amsterdam Schiphol (EHAM).
However and should you find yourself in Rotterdam, a great day trip out of the city would be a visit to the town of Delft (which also happens to be located between Rotterdam and The Hague). Delft is about a 15 minute drive from the Rotterdam airport and an even shorter trip via train from Rotterdam Central. Hence, visitors can easily arrive in the morning after breakfast, do some sightseeing and have a leisurely lunch before more sightseeing and then head back to Rotterdam for dinner.
Once in Delft, visitors will find a fairly typical Dutch town that has a couple of important claims to fame worth noting, namely for being:
- The home and burial place of the painter Johannes Vermeer.
- The traditional burial place for the Dutch Royal family as the Nieuwe Kerk contains the family burial vault.
- The burial place of Dutch folk hero and privateer Piet Hein.
- The home of Delft Blue porcelain or Delftware.
For visitors who admire Vermeer and want to learn more about his life and the period in which he lived, the Vermeer Center is well worth a visit. However, visitors who are expecting to see his actual works on display will be disappointed as his paintings are on display in other museums around the Netherlands or abroad.
On the other hand and if you are a military history buff, the Koninklijk Netherlands Legermuseum or Army Museum is definitely worth spending an hour or two in as the museum’s exhibits (many of which have English subtitles to help non-Dutch speaking visitors) cover Dutch military history from Roman times all the way up to the country’s present involvement in Afghanistan and UN peacekeeping engagements. The museum is particularly noted for having an extensive collection of medieval weaponry that includes the world’s largest collection of ivory-stocked pistols. In addition, the museum shop is also worth visiting as a number of models and toy soldiers are available for purchase but unfortunately for non-Dutch speakers, most of the books are written only in Dutch.
For anyone considering buying (or more appropriately said, who can afford to buy!) authentic Delft porcelain, a visit to the Royal Delft porcelain factory is a must. Guided tours are available daily (At 10:30, 12:00, 14:00 and 15:30) in both English and Dutch (with the last stop naturally being the Royal Delft showroom) and visitors will learn how Delftware is made and just why its so expensive (even a small piece from their showroom will cost at least 50 Euro) as it takes at least a decade or more to train a master artisan to hand paint a more complicated piece.
And finally for more adventurous travelers who want a birds eye view of the city (just short of flying over it), no visit to Delft would be complete without a visit to the Nieuwe Kerk or New Church and a climb to the very top of its bell tower (weather permitting). However and be warned: watch your head while climbing up the narrow staircase (especially if you are tall), hang onto your hat as its very breezy at the top and get there early – especially if you find yourself visiting Delft around the time several thousand Dutch high school students are also visiting (and have the same idea all at once about climbing to the top of the bell tower…)
For further information about Delft, the official city website will tell visitors everything they need to know to plan a visit.