The Dutch “Hanse towns” along the river

March, 2016

After arriving back to the Netherlands in January, I am trying the get used to the Dutch way of living. Twenty three years is a long time to be away from the “home country” and although I have been back for holidays on and off, it is different to emerge into daily life again. I settle myself in the East of the country, as pace of life is still slower as in the West and the outdoor is gorgeous for hiking and cycling. The first weeks I rent an authentic little house on the edge of a provincial town, on walking distance of the station and the centre. The house is cute and cozy, but the winter days in the Netherlands are dark and rainy this year. On the nights that there is frost, I am very happy with my warm water bottle, as the windows are single glazed and there is no heater in the bedrooms. On some nights I need gloves to read a book in bed! It feels like back in time, when I was just a little girl and when winters were still harsh in the Netherlands. We used to wake up with the windows covered in ice on the inside….. Though watching the television, which shows us the refugees in Macedonia, sleeping in soaked tents with their little children, I feel like a princess in my bed.

From the town where I am staying for several weeks, I visit some of the so-called “Hanse towns”, situated on the peaceful IJssel river. Hanse was a medieval guild or trade association. These historic towns remind of the region’s rich trading past, which reached its golden era in the 15th century.

At the same time, I try to discover if this is an area where I would like to settle down. Therefor, I explore neighbouring villages and even start to explore the Real Estate market. A very time-consuming effort, but also very necessary and fun to do.

Deventer, is one of the first towns I visit of the Hanseatic League. It is among the oldest cities of the Netherlands and its history goes back to records of the 9th century. There is a great collection of heritage; here you can find the oldest brick house, the oldest park and the oldest academic library. Every December Deventer hosts a Dickens festival, which attracts lots of visitors.

During this first visit I start my tour along the river and walk from there into the inner city. Around every corner, there is another surprising building, alley or little courtyard and even an excavation site.

Shopping is fun in this town with so many cute little stores………

Another Hanse town is Doesburg. Way smaller than Deventer, but with so much charm! From here the view over the river IJssel is stunning and I imagine going on my bike in Springtime, following the meanders of the river, over one of the many perfect cycling paths. A bike was one of the first things I bought in the Netherlands. You can’t go around without it!

In Doesburg you will find the oldest restaurant and Grand-Café of the Netherlands, called “De Waag” and is situated on the Koepoortstraat 2-4. It goes back to the Hanse era and coming into the building is walking into the past. Today, the fireplace is on and people cuddle up around the fire, as it is a cold day. It is interesting to tour around the building, as it consists of many different rooms for various events and every room has its history……

I am looking forward to my visit to Zutphen, another Hanse town and after, to Bronckhorst, which is called “the smallest town of the Netherlands”. In fact, there are even towns with fewer inhabitants, but for the attraction of visitors it is better to keep that illusion!

Since I am now the proud owner of a small car, I can cross the Netherlands more easily and with more fun! Beginning of March, I moved to another house on a holiday park bordering the woods and since then the weather changed into Spring feeling days and I am right in the area that I enjoy most; the rivers, canals, historic towns and villages, farm and woodland.

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