We spent a week on the hard in Aalsmeer, applying anti-fouling paint to the hull, rebuilding the toilet pump, installing a depth meter, and performing other repairs and maintenance tasks. To install the depth meter I had to fit a through hull fitting. Never having installed one, I was a bit nervous, as you have to drill a hole in the bottom of the boat. I was glad to have the advice and tools of the repair facility that caters to the do it your self boaters. The facility was recommended by our long time Dutch friends who moored their boat there for many years. When we finished we set off for the Doeshaven marina in Leiderdorp. From there it is a 20 minute bus ride to the famous city of Leiden. The weather was prefect and my through hull fitting did not leak.
Leiden is a lively place that sits on the junction of the Nieuw and Oude Rhin rivers only 20 kilometers from The Hague and 40 from Amsterdam. As the covid restrictions are lifting, everywhere there are shoppers, walkers, bikers and those seated outdoors enjoying a beverage or a snack while chatting happily with a colleague or lover. It’s a very young crowd, given the student body of 35,000 in a city of less than 200,000. We were there in perfect weather, adding to festive atmosphere.
Leiden is called ‘City of Discoveries’ for the many important scientific developments that occurred here. The University of Leiden (founded 1575) boasts 13 Nobel Prize winners. It is the country’s oldest university and a member of the League of European Research Universities. It is twinned with Oxford, the UK’s oldest. Modern scientific medical research and teaching started in the early 18th century in Leiden as a result of the activites of Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738), famous in the annals of medicine. He pioneered clinical teaching and academic hospital, helping medicine take the turn into science. He isolated urea and started the use of thermometers.
Rembrandt was born and educated here.
The University of Leiden is famous for its many discoveries including Snells law and the Leyden jar capacitor developed by Pieter van Musschecnbroek (1746). Heike Kamerlingh Onnes won the 1913 Nobel Prize in physics. Among his accomplishments, he liquefied helium and attained a temperature of less than one degree above absolute zero. Albert Einstein taught at the University.
Around 860 Leiden began with the formation of an artificial hill that same to be called the Burcht van Leiden, which we climbed. The hill that sits at the junction of the Oude and Nieuwe Rijn. The settlement was called Leithon. A leitha (later “lede”) is a human-modified natural river. Leiden was an important center for weaving in the 15th century.
The city sided with the Dutch against Spanish rule in 1572. Under seige from May until October 1574 by the Spanish, it was saved by the Sea Beggars, who flooded the area, allowing the city to be resupplied by ship. As thanks William of Orange founded the University. The end of the siege is still celebrated on October 3. During the siege paper money was issued, for the first time in Europe. The paper came from prayer books, coming into use when silver supplies dissipated.
TYhe Pilgrims who later settled in nowadays Massachusetts lived in Leiden. Johan Rudolf Thorbecke wrote the Dutch Constitution in 1848 in his house at Garenmarkt 9.
In the next post, we sail from Leiden to Alphen an der Rijn, enjoying a delightful visit of the Archeon Museum Park.