We spent Christmas 2018 in Haarlem visiting our daughter who lives and works in the attractive small, historic city, a few miles from Amsterdam. This last Christmas, as she wasn’t able to get back over to England, we decided we’d do the same again. The main difference this time was that our daughter’s boyfriend’s parents and brother had also decided to visit, although they weren’t staying as long as us and had arranged to stop in a hotel.
We rented a very nice, well equipped and beautifully furninshed and decorated apartment on the Turfmarkt, facing the River Sparne
The owner, Nana, was very nice and welcoming.
Looking out of the front window, this was the view over the river on Christmas morning
and looking to the left there was a good view over to the Grote Kerk
We mainly spent our time wandering round the city, doing some last minute Christmas shopping and stocking up for Christmas Eve, spending time with our daughter and eating and drinking.
On Christmas Eve we prepared our traditional Christmas Eve buffet which we shared with daughter, her boyfriend and his parents and brother. So a larger “gathering” than normal.
One of the things we’d particularly enjoyed during our previous Christmas visit was the singing in the Grote Markt, so after eating we went for a drink in Tierney’s Irish Pub before joining the crowd in the square. The Christmas service from St Bavo’s church had been relayed onto a large screen and afterwards, just after midnight, we joined in with the crowd singing Christmas carols and songs led by a singers and a band on a stage that had been erected in the square.
Just like the previous year, the square was packed, but we managed to find ourselves some space next to the Christmas tree.
There was a great atmosphere and we really enjoyed ourselves. Afterwards, we headed our separate ways and we returned to our apartment for a nightcap before turning in.
Christmas day we opened our presents before setting off around midday to our daughter’s house. They had invited some friends over as well as the two families for Christmas dinner but we went over a few hours earlier to exchange gifts and spend a little time together. We popped out for a walk before returning for a very delicious (and filling!) Christmas meal for us all.
Boxing day – ‘Tweede Kerstdag’ (second Christmas day) in the Netherlands – is always something of an anti-climax after the big day. We went out for a couple of hours for a wander round the old, narrow streets around the city centre.
The Friday was our last full day in Haarlem. We had thought about taking the train into Amsterdam for the day, but, for a number of reasons decided against it. Instead we visited Teyler’s Museum during the morning. We’d visited during our holiday in August, but there’s plenty to see and it was definitely worth returning.
Afterwards we went for a light lunch with our daughter in the DeDAKKAS cafe which is located on top of the de Kamp multi-storey car park, and which afforded good views over the city.
Our son then went off to spend some time with her during the afternoon and we had a wander round the city centre and along the canal.
We’d booked a table in the Art Nouveau style Bastijan restaurant for the evening.
We decided on the 4 course “surprise menu”, letting the chef select the dishes. We didn’t know what we were eating until they arrived. All the dishes were delicious.
On Saturday our flight was leaving Schipol mid afternoon, so we spent the morning tidying up and after a short final wander round the city centre, relaxed in the apartment (Nana kindly allowed us to stay an extra few hours) until it was time to catch our bus to the airport.
There were no problems at the airport or during the flight and we were back home before 7 o’clock UK time. We’d had a very enjoyable 2nd Christmas in Haarlem. Depending on what happens during the next 12 months, we may return next year.