One of the joys of wandering without a plan is that you never know what is going to be round the next corner. That's how I discovered this wonderfully photogenic family of Coots nesting in the middle of the canal on the 5th Binnenvestgracht, where the University's Botanical Garden is.
Eurasian Coots are quite common in the Netherlands due to their preference for nesting on still, or slow-moving water, and sheltered canals such as this are ideal.
Here's the Wikipedia article below:
The "Hortus Botanicus" is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, opened in 1578 and it has a fabulous location. The front entrance faces the gorgeous Rapenburg canal and the actual garden is on the equally beautiful Witte Singel.
It is not as impressive as other botanical gardens (like the one in Lisbon, for instance), but is is still very nice. There are benches facing the Witte Singel where you can just sit down and relax, the view is great!
Entrance is 4 Euros for adults and there are many other kinds of tickets (students, groups, etc). Guided tours are also available (at additional cost).
March 26-October 31 Monday till Sunday 10 - 18 hrs.
November 1-March 25 Monday till Friday, Sunday 10 - 16 hrs.
Check the webpage for more information, the Hortus closes on a few specific days each year, so make sure you confirm that it is open before you go. Also check for special events and the "bird's-eye view" section will give you information on what you can see.
June 21st - "Midsummer's Night at the Leiden Hortus.
Tuesday, the 21st of June the longest day and the shortest night of the year will be celebrated. Special light effects, music and storytelling in the garden and greenhouses."
Leiden HAS A FANTASTIC hortus botanicus: A REAL OASIS in the busy city that Leiden is.
A wonderful place for a rest, there are benches where it is great to sit an catch the earliest possible rays of Spring sunshine!
The views are breathtaking and please do walk through this wonderful garden!
The BACKBONE of this Hortus (imho) are the very special trees: imagine.....the oldest tree here is a LABURNUM, GOLDEN RAIN / CHAIN which dates back from 1601!!!
There is a GINKGO BILOBA from 1785, a WEEPING BEECH from 1840 and many, many "oldies" more: very dignified standing strong!!
WANT TO HELP?? You can adopt a tree, for a year for 5 years or for as long as you live!
Your name will then be mentioned next to the tree you adopted and you will pay for the very costly maintenance......these trees can't go to the doctor: no the tree surgeon come to see them on a regular base!
When you want more info about this ADOPTATION project: please contact Mrs. Patricia Vandecasteele.
Her special phone number is: +31(0)71 527 35 99
Give her a call and make her day!
OPEN: summertime 1st April - 31st October daily 10AM - 18PM
wintertime 1st November - 31st March Mondays through Fridays and Sundays 10AM -- 4PM
Closed on Sundays during wintertime.
Also closed 25th December - 4th Januari.
Whilst cruising around the streets and canals I came across a delightful bit of greenery called Plantsoen. It sits astride the Zoeterwoudsesingel and, if you can pronounce that then you're a better person than I!
When you look at a map you can clearly see that the water here would have followed an old defensive line where the projections make defence easier.
Today it zig-zags in between the grassy shore lined with pussy willows and such and is a haven for ducks.
This canal, is one of the main canals in Leiden and marks the end of the city "center" on the South.
I highly recommend walking along it (about 20 minutes at a slow pace) and enjoy its beauty and tranquility.
There are many old, traditional houses to look at and a very beautiful canal. Look out for the wooden bridge about halfway through.
On a beautiful day, there will be many people in their boats enjoying this very beautiful part of the city.
If you decide to rent a boat yourself (See other tip), the canal is not far away from the rental site and you can easily paddle or row here.
If you are interested in some pictures, check out the travelogue.
Located in Noordwijk this flower display is a fantastic experience. The Keukenhof garden park is covered in millions of flowers in an area covering 32 hectares of landscape gardens. Flowers shows in the pavillions are totally unique. If you like flowers you in for a great suprise as you can buy 100 for 10 Euro. If you like gardening then this is the place to get ideas and when you have finished walking around the park you can sit and relax in one of the restaurants which serve hot and cold food or simply have an ice cream. Price per adult in 12.50 euros.
The oldest part of the HORTUS dating from 1594, is now the so-called VOORTUIN.
This part has been replanted with new plants and there was a new greenhouse constructed, the so-called WINTERTUIN ( wintergarden).
The so-called CLUSIUS TUIN gives us an idea of how the Hortus must have been around 1600.
During that time The Netherlands already had strong ties / bonds with ASIA.
The results of the exchange of plants and knowledge between these 2 cultures has been put into effect in the JANPANSE TUIN (THE JAPANESE GARDEN).
THE PEARL OF THE HORTUS, the VICTORIA AMAZONICA is to be admired in the special VICTORIA HOTHOUSE and each time I get a chance to pay the Hortus a visit I am amazed and stupified when I see thos WONDROUS PLANT...............
I really think this is a MUST.....
Via the URL that I give you, you can see these special garden for yourself online: they are just a click away: www.hortus.leidenuniv.nl
While not as elaborate as the Amsterdam canals, you can make a nice trip around the Canals in Leiden. You can do it from the center. "Schuitje Vaart" departs from the Mare, where the river Rijn splits in 2 parts (far left of the picture, just out of sight).
It's only going in summer though. Approximately from May to September.
Alternatively you can decide to row yourself, if you need the excercise or when your gf has decided it is more romantic if YOU row. Rowing boats and waterbikes are rented out from the Galgewater (side street to the Rapenburg, side of the station).
A nice place to go to is Leiden's botanical garden. Leiden's university has had a botanical garden for over 400 years. It's specialised in Asian plants mainly.
There are four different sections, "Siebold Gedenktuin" (Japanese Garden), "Clusiustuin" (based on the original botanical garden from 1600), "Voortuin" and "Wintertuin" (winter garden, obviously).
In the glass house you can find the "Victoria Amazonica" (a Giant Water Lilly), it's one of the most special plants. It blossums at night, and when it does the garden is open at night too for this very special occassion.
I went there one time to watch the blossuming of a plant which does so only once every 100 years. Its smell was straight from hell though. I forgot the plant's name, but it doens't matter as you wont see it in your lifetime anyway.
March 30 to October 31: every day from 10.00 AM to 18.00 PM.
November 1 to March 29: closed on Saturday, all other days open from 10.00 AM to 16.00 PM.
Beware, the garden is also closed at February 8 and October 3.
Visit CRONESTEIJN park, a landscape park just outside the city. I live right next to this park.
Visit my special Cronesteijn TRAVELOGUE in my VLIETLAND page!!!