Netherlands. Not New York.
I had to go to Holland for a short trip and chose to stay in this town, 30 minutes outside Amsterdam. Haarlem is actually closer to the Airport than the big city we all go to normally when we visit Holland.
Let me tell you this though, if you find big cities overwhelming to visit, Haarlem is a great place to stay and explore. A more approachable dutch experience. Coffee shops and all.
Before the European Union, Holland was known to be the epicentre of social liberalism. It still is, but without borders a lot of the culture has expanded into other European countries by now. But yes, back then there was only one Amsterdam. We visited many times.
How liberal? If a hotel is NOT on Tripadvisor (we all check out our lodging choices before booking and arriving now) and on check in, cash is OK, without documents, any documents, you are in a liberal place.
The weather is so so, rain showers since arriving and no end in sight. But if it's OK for the locals, it is OK for me.
I walked around the city centre for a few hours this morning and yes Haarlem is a mini Amsterdam. Great architecture, old houses made new, Grachten, friendly people and lots and lots of bicycles. They are everywhere. Though somewhat of a comfort creature, if street culture is dictating I could see myself riding a bike. A long way before that happens though. In Jarnac.....
Enjoy the pictures.
MY FAVORITE HOUSE PICTURE OF THE DAY
A SMALLER GRACHT
THIS HOUSE IS 156 YEARS OLDER THAN OURS IN JARNAC (1692)
BIKE OWNER MUST HAVE TWO KIDS.....
RIDE TO CHURCH ON YOUR BIKE
A BRDIGE OPERATOR
IT'S A DRIVE BRIDGE, THAT SWINGS OPEN FOR BIG BOATS
AND BIG SHE IS!
DON'T ORDER THE COFFEE HERE.......
MY FAVORITE NAME FOR AN ALTERATION SHOP