.The Fortressed Towns of Zwolle and Amersfoort

I started off Week 1 in the Netherlands, landing in Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport at a nice and early 7:15 AM. I grabbed my luggage, refilled my water bottle and bought a breakfast sandwich before heading out to the University of Amsterdam. I’m starting to look at graduate schools and programs and after learning about the M.Sc. in Forensics, I thought that I should take advantage of this time in the Netherlands, and see one of my future options. The train took me to Science Park, a location out of downtown that houses the hard sciences of multiple Dutch Universities. It’s quiet and no tourists are there, which made visiting the University very nice.

Trains are extremely easy to manage in the Netherlands, so after my visit to the university, I loaded my OV-chipkaart with some Euros and took a train to Amersfoort; a town of about 150,000 people and the birthplace of the famous artist Piet Mondriaan.

I started my tour of Amersfoort by walking along the major shopping street called Langestraat. It was cute but busy so I turned onto a side street to grab a sandwich and some kwark for lunch. To eat, I sat by the canal and the Onze Lieve Vrouwetouren, a gothic church spire and the third tallest in the Netherlands. There was a quiet little flower market in front of the tower too which was nice to walk through.

I knew that I wanted to see the old fort remnants and walked through the city centre to get to the first one, called De Brouwer (and pictured below). It’s beautifully simple and with the quietness of the town, created a peaceful feeling. Walking back through the city I kept seeing posters or small sculptures in the style of Piet Mondriaan. At it turns out, Amersfoort was his home! There’s a museum dedicated to him here but I unfortunately didn’t have time to go in.

After spending time in Amersfoort I hopped back on the train, destination Zwolle. Zwolle is just slightly larger than Amersfoort, has a downtown in the shape of a star, and retains portions of large fortress walls along its main canal. In fact, archaeologists have so far found remains of a city under Zwolle that date back to the Bronze age, about 2000 years before the common era!

What I discovered in my afternoon in Zwolle was that the city is actually more well-known for it’s food than it’s museums. This was an easy problem for me, and I enjoyed sampling around at the market things like Mustard or Peperbuskaas (a pepper cheese).

I ended my day at a lovely AirBnB outside of Zwolle; spending the night in a quintessential Dutch neighbourhood and snacking on gouda and bread before falling asleep.