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Leiden lies about 40 min by train south of Amsterdam. Earlier this year Jesse applied and was accepted to the University of Leiden, so we were curious to see the town we almost ended up in.

The city’s biggest church is named St. Peter, who holds the keys to heaven. Therefore, the coat of arms is two crossed keys, hidden everywhere throughout the city.

Leiden's coat of arms

Smaller and quainter than Amsterdam, Leiden kept busy on the day we were there with an outdoor market and an art festival. It was another beautiful sunny fall day, and to celebrate it I wore my Indian Summer dress. I made it myself, you know. (Whoops, I think that crossed the line between pointing that out and bragging!)

In a completely subjective way, I loved Leiden. I would have no problem living there. It seemed to have the little art stores that would make me happy, selling yarn and fabric and needles. And look–someone even yarn bombed an entire bridge! Rembrandt was born here, so I’ll attribute the city’s artsy ways to that.

We followed part of the Leiden Lopen, a well-marked walk around the city that hits all the important sights. This small town is a huge historical book. The Pilgrims (the Plymouth Rock and Thanksgiving ones) lived in Leiden for a short time before boarding the Mayflower. Rembrandt was born and studied here. The city survived the Siege of 1420 and another seige in 1574 when the Spanish tried to take over. The Relief of Leiden was on October 3rd, and is celebrated with a big parade and lots of herring and hutspot. Maybe we’ll have to go back? When the Spanish were routed, the city celebrated by opening the University of Leiden, the oldest university in the country.

We wandered aimlessly. We sat on benches. We saw cathedrals, a castle, canals and gabled houses. Towns here are already starting to blend together, but I love them every one. So well organized and quaint, but in such an efficient way.

I have more about Leiden to show you tomorrow, but for now I’ll leave you with one more picture. We ended the day by relaxing with a drink. One of my favorite things about cafes here is that they often extend onto a boat in the canal. Sometimes, especially at night, you might not even notice until you feel a subtle sway and wonder if maybe you’ve had one too many. It’s just the boat–drink up!

The perfect way to end any busy .