For as long as I have knowYolande; I have been hearing stories of the beauty, history and good times surrounding a little Dutch city called
Middelburg is a tiny city in Zeeland, where Yolande had spent most of the past 3 years at university. Her tiny university has only 600 students (max!!!) and is dedicated to the memory of Theordore and Eleanore Roosevelt.
While attending this university; Yolande recieved a pretty stellar education, made magnificent friends, lived in a historical dream and collected a myriad of brilliant stories to share with the people she met on exchange in Australia.
One of the very first things that occurred to Landie and I, once I’d booked my flights to Europe, was that we could visit Middelburg together!
So in the cold morning air, on Friday the 27th of October, we found ourselves gently shivering and waiting for a train to Rotterdam.
We hopped the train to Rotterdam and then a change to Middelburg.
It had been cold when we left, but it was colder when we arrived.
The city is small and lovely. You can’t walk for 2minutes before finding another wonderfully ancient building.
During WWII, most of Middelburg was destroyed through a bombardment of artillery fire and the terrible blaze that sprung from it. Luckily , the people of Middelburg had recieved news of the oncoming slaughter and everyone fled. So no one was killed in the barrage. But because there were no people left, the blazing fires raged unabbated and destroyed most of the city.
When the people returned, they worked tirelessly to return the city to it’s former glory. Which is quite different to the reaction across the wider Netherlands, where it was decided that ultra modern buildings would be built where the historic ones had fallen.
A few brilliant buildings were repaired or rebuilt, including the Old Town Hall and the Abbey Square. The houses were rebuilt in a respectfully historic style, some using the remains of the original buildings that had stood there.
Yolande, because she’s a joiner, had volunteered as a “Historical Tour Guide” while she had studied at the Roosevelt Academy. This meant that, as we walked together through the city, every building had a story and every statue had an anecdote. Also, ontop of the history, there were tales of Yolande’s personal history in the mix. We saw where she graduated and her school buildings and the hallway, in the building, where her apartment had been.
It was a fantastic way to get to know (and to love) a city in one day.
Because this had been Landie’s old stomping grounds, she had a few spots that we JUST HAD TO SEE! And these centered entirely around food.
Honey Pie cafe for Tea, Crostini for Sammiches, Ko d’ooooooooooooooooor for (the best) coffee, Kakao for exquiste chocolate, De Mug (the Mosquito) for Notenwine and Beetje Anders (Dutch for ‘a little bit different’) for fresh hot-chips.
Honey Pie is the definition of adorable! It’s a tiny cafe that specializes in BEAUTIFUL tea (served in your own personal 4 cup Roji pot and a mismatched vintage tea cup and saucer – details for my tea loving friends) and delectable cakes.
It was impeccably decorated with bright colors, clouds of the walls and lots of love hearts hanging from the ceiling. Too. Fucking. Cute.
We sat, groaning with delight at every mouthful and eyeful, for almost 2 hours.
Crostini was a minuscule sandwich bar that specialized in FRESH bread and aged meats. Herb rolls + Pancetta + Parmesan + Rockett = two very happy ladies.
Ko d’ooooooooooor is where we met with Yolande’s dear friend Louise.
Half French. Half Dutch. Totally sassy.
I kinda love her a little.
The cafe was just too cool for adjectives. There was the cosy cafe section (where the coffees were made and couples could coo at each other), the gallery room (a large room with decorative ceilings, an abundance of natural light and a fabulous collection of local art) and the back room with a view (once a luxurious lounge room over looking the gardens. Again the walls were littered with beautiful art works). For the decor alone, I would call this a must see in the Netherlands.
And then there was the coffee…
Actual. Melbourne worthy. Coffee.
I cold have happily died there.
But then we were off to the Kakao for some chocolate.
While studying, Yolande had actually worked for this particular chocolatier. So, while I stood overwhelmed by the sheer number of varieties available to us, Yolande expertly chose a box of 12 hand made chocolates.
IAs we were about to pay, the owner of the shop entered, recognized Landie and squealed with excitement. They chatted for 5 minutes and we were sent on our way with a free bag of hand made and decorated chocolate mushrooms!
Next we headed to the Mosquito for some Notenwine.
Notenwine is kind of a mix between a port and a liqure, and it’s made out of nuts. It’s really really really really good. Like really really really really.
The Mosquito reminded me of home/Canberra. It was kind of like the Phoenix but less dingy and more wonky. I felt totally at home sipping Notenwine and giggling with Landie, like no time (or distance) had passed since her exchange.
After our first Notenwine, we headed to Beetje Anders for some hot-chips.
Seems like an unremarkable conclusion to an exotic day of eating, right?
The chips from this particular shop are bloody miraculous. You can watch the staff cutting the fresh potato (using this incredibly clever machine-thingy), lightly deep frying, and serving IMMEDIATELY! They were fantastic.
Louise joined us for the amazing salty potatoes experience. Then the three of us sauntered off to Louise’s apartment for dinner.
Louise, very kindly, cooked us a fabulous pasta with fresh veggies and served us a lovely French white wine. The girls reminisced about their days studying together while I stretched out, drank wine, and thought about how lucky I was to be there with them.
After divvying up the chocolates, and further groans of tasty joy, the three of us headed back to the Mosquito. The girls chatted with some of their Middelburg posse and I had another tasty
Suddenly we had run out of time and we had to RUN to catch our last train back to Rotterdam.
We thankfully made it for the train, made it to Rotterdam, ran for our exchange and caught the last train to Woerden. Phew!!
Yolande and I giggled hysterically (due in most part to exhaustion) all the way home.
Middelburg is definitely a new favourite.
Hope you’re all well, happy and roasting nicely in the spring sun.
Pictured – A tea cup tree by the canal in Middelburg, the old town hall, yummbos at Honey Pie & a ring of chocolate mushrooms!