Continuing my tour of Dutch cities you’ve probably never heard about: I went to Delft in February. On second thought, maybe you have heard of Delft, what with all the blue and all.
Either way, I found myself in Delft to celebrate a friends 21st birthday with a surprise high tea. My friends and I believe that celebrations aren’t complete without hot tea and a supply of delicious treats so, obviously, a high-tea was the only way to celebrate the event.
Though the birthday-surprise was planned out well in advance, plans fell through last-minute and after a few panicky text-messages and a quick phone call, our new high-tea location was secured, in never before visited Delft.
Okay, actually, I’ve been to Delft before, but I was 8 and all I remember was that we stopped for ice-cream so, really, it doesn’t count.
Delft is in the south of Holland, with The Hague to the North East and Rotterdam to the South. Obviously, it is well-known for its Delftware ceramics. The iconic porcelain is still very much part of the city, as the 17th-century Porceleyne Fles is the only factory that still produces original Delft blue ceramics and every year, on the 1st Sunday in October, the Ceramics Promotion Association organizes an event to put the spotlight on modern ceramics.
But this place is more than white-and-blue tiles, Delft has a starring role in Dutch culture. The Royal Family has its roots here – William of Orange inherited what was to become the Netherlands when he was 11 years old and later lead the battle against the Spanish occupation. He moved to Delft in 1572 and after he was murdered in 1584, he was buried in the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). He was the first Royal to be buried here as the church has the royal vault where members of the royal family rest in peace.
The New Church is still used as such and offers services on Sundays. Other days, it is open to the public to view the impressive mausoleums, stained-glass windows, and visitors can even climb up to the tower.
Another famous church, albeit slightly less impressive is the Old Church. Johannes Vermeer, the painter of light, is buried here after spending his whole life in Delft. His influence is still present in the city. You can visit the Vermeer Center, take an art-work to see what inspired Vermeer, and visit a museum dedicated to him and his contemporaries.
However, a quick walk through the 17-century city was all my friends and I had time for on the rainy day we visited. After all, we had tea waiting for us at “Lunchroom Leonidas”, which is known for its high teas. It was not a stereotypical high tea filled with cucumber sandwiches and scones; instead they serve 5 savory snacks, like little pastries filled with fish or beef ragout and 5 sweet snacks, including a bonbon and a scone.
Tea is unlimited and available in over 100 flavors, including special blends. We sampled the fruity, flowery Birthday Mix and the vanilla-scented Delft Mix. They also offer a High Wine on Friday nights which quite possibly sounds better than a high tea and certainly warrants another visit to the city to check it out!