On the road again! I have the great pleasure to be visiting the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, Netherlands for a 3-week research trip. While I do plan on getting (hopefully) a fair bit of work done while I’m here, it won’t be all work and no play. Things won’t be in full swing until Monday, so I took the opportunity to do a bit of exploring of the town I’ll be calling home for the next 3 weeks.
The transit system here is, perhaps unsurprisingly, clean and efficient. I got myself an OV-chipkaart, a country-wide transit pass that you pre-load and use and top up as needed, when I first arrived, which makes things even more convenient. It’s an easy 20-minute bus ride into the center of town from the Max Planck, and it wasn’t long before I was strolling through the bustling pedestrian thoroughfares. Nijmegen is considered the oldest towns in the Netherlands (over 2000 thousand years old!), though not many of the original buildings are left, as it was ravaged during World War II. It wasn’t long before I came across Grote Markt, the grand market square in the center of the town. Beautiful cobblestones and tiny, narrow buildings. I was amused to see the open-air patios spilling out onto the square. Nearly November and folks still out on the patio!
I wandered down to the river Waal and along the riverfront to find the Velorama, the only bicycle museum in the Netherlands. I’d always heard about the prevalence of bikes in the Netherlands, but I don’t think I could’ve really appreciated it until I got here. Bicycles truly are everywhere, ridden by young and old, on ubiquitous, beautifully-maintained biking paths. It seemed fitting then to visit a museum devoted to this well-loved machine. It was a quirky, if not a little musty, place. Three floors documenting the strange evolution of the bicycle, with some pieces dating back to the early 1800s. The signage was all in Dutch, so I settled for just appreciating the art of the machinery. That is actually a surprising thing I’ve noticed elsewhere–despite the prevalence of Dutch speakers knowing English, there are actually relatively few English translations posted.
After I’d had my fill, I went in search of a snack. We do have kitchen facilities at the Max Planck guesthouse, so I will be doing my best to not always eat out. But it is nice to try out a few fun spots. I came across De Bruijn in Grote Markt and grabbed a seat on the patio. In addition to blankets, the chairs had heated cushions (which is genius!). De Bruijn is a kind of small lunch plates place, so I ordered a couple sandwiches (tomato/mozzarella and brie/walnut/honey) along with bitterballen. A bitterbal is a Dutch meat-based snack, akin to a croquette, filled with a beef or veal mixture in a roux, breadcrumbed and deep-fried. Super delicious! I happily munched on my snacks, sitting next to another solo traveler, who I later learned spoke Finnish, Swedish, German and English. I just love the kind of casual multilingualism that you get here in Europe.
From there, I hopped over a few doors down to Cafe in de blaauwe hand, the oldest pub in Nijmegen (founded in 1524). Candlelit and wood-paneled, it was a warm, cozy spot. I enjoyed a cool glass of wine before making my way back to my guest house.