Monday, January 26, 2009

Minitrip: Delft

We had to check out of our hostel in Amsterdam fairly early and had already seem pretty much everything we really wanted to see for that trip so we decided to stop in Delft on our way to Brussels. Delft is a small city about an hour outside of Amsterdam that is famous for it's painted pottery (Delft blue pottery). Everything we read in the guidebooks said it was a beautiful city and listed a pottery factory that gave free tours. So we caught a train and off we went to Delft.

When we got off the train we were not greeted with a quaint city but a lot of buildings resembling concrete boxes and a motorway. We walked parallel to the motorway for a while in the direction of the factory we wanted to tour when we came upon this iron gate. It was like something out of a fairytale. The large iron gate led into a courtyard next to a church which opened up to a canal and another church and the quaint city we had read about. It was very "Alice in Wonderland."

Relieved that we had come to the right city, we followed the canal to the river and then the river to the Delftse Pauw pottery factory. The factory is only a single building now but you can tell that some of the adjacent buildings used to be a part of the factory as well. The tour was really informative. We learned that all "real" Delft pottery is made in molds, and that the pieces are actually painted with a black paint. After the pieces are painted they are glazed and fired, and the cobalt and copper in the paint reacts with the glaze to make the color turn blue. There are only two factories left that make Delft pottery by hand; the Delftse Pauw and Royal Delft. After the tour we each bought a small, but expensive, piece of authentic Delft Pottery. They had a table-top Christmas tree decorated with some of their ornaments that was absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately the ornaments were definitely out of our price range. I'd love to get some when I get a real job though.

After our tour we walked around the city for a while. In many ways it was like a miniture Amsterdam. Delft has a fairly well-known university in it. However, I don't think we wandered anywhere too near it because we didn't see anything particularly student-esque. One thing I was very excited to see was the main square. Delft is where the Dutch painter Vermeer lived and worked and where the book and movie "Girl with a Pearl Earring" is set. One of the landmarks in the book/movie is a compass rose in the cobbles of the main square that the main character crosses on her way to work for Vermeer. I was anxious to see if the compass rose really existed. Sure enough, just before a massive Christmas tree was the compass rose. I admit it wasn't as impressive as I thought it would be but it was still pretty cool.

Leanna and I both agreed that we could have spent much longer in Delft exploring and chilling in a coffee shop. Time wouldn't allow for that though. We still needed to get to Brussels, Belgium before the end of the day.

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