Haarlem on a Friday night in September: One church with beer, another without, and a relaxing dinner with friends at The Warehouse.


Previously: Shopping, strolling, beaches, herring, bock and madras. Just a second day’s reintroduction to Haarlem.

I’ve lagged badly in concluding the September travel narrative. Bear in mind that while millions of readers aren’t hanging on every word, the story is important to me, if for no other reason than the excellent odds of my forgetting much of it. A drinking life may or may not be responsible for these memory lapses, and so we carry on regardless.

By the time Friday 22 September rolled around, the weather had cooled and rain arrived. I was in the throes of what I thought was a cold (later to become an upper respiratory infection, accompanied by allergies and affiliated muck).

Since returning home, this most recent breakdown of my sinuses has occasioned a long-delayed appointment with an allergist, who tells me that while I’m not allergic to beer or food, just about everything else is a problem.

The Hotel Amadeus offers an ample breakfast, and so the day began with a short waddle of a stroll, followed by a look inside De Grote of St.-Bavokerk. However, first there were monkeys to light the way.

Following are photos of the church taken by both of us, in no particular order. It’s an imposing but not overly ornate edifice, and a good place to avoid the drizzle outside.

By lunchtime the rain was abating, and street life proceeded as usual, with herring accenting the market stalls.

We navigated toward Jopenkerk for snacks, local ales and a scheduled midday chat with Erwin Klijn, the brewery’s sales manager. It was quite informative. The former church building’s transformation is stunning, and as noted previously during this travelogue, crowds seemed to be on hand at all hours of the business day. I like everything about Jopen, and look forward to our next visit.

With a social evening of drinks and dining still ahead, we retired to the hotel for a nap.

By the time we emerged to meet Inge, the skies had cleared and it was a stunning afternoon for coffee at Spaarne 66, which is known as “the living room of Haarlem.” It was here that we sat by the river, perhaps 50 feet away from the cafe’s door, with servers crossing a traffic lane, biking lanes and two sidewalks to get to us, without an accident. Try imagining this in downtown New Albany, and you’ll realize why I drink — and travel to places like Haarlem.

The five of us (including Boris and Dewi) had booked a table at Het Pakhuis, or “The Warehouse,” located a short walk along the river. It was a fine multi-course meal, indeed, though I still found myself mourning the passing of De Ark, the restaurant we’d visited most often during previous stays in Haarlem.

The Ark closed earlier in 2017 after a long run of more than two decades. I found it noteworthy for the secluded location off any of Haarlem’s main routes; very much of the neighborhood, though right around the corner from the popular Frans Hals Museum, with heaping platters of meat and potatoes, plenty of lagers and ales, and multiple wood-paneled rooms displaying traditional “bruin cafe” (brown cafe) ambiance.

No matter; our evening at The Warehouse was sublime, filled with easy laughs and serious conversation. Judging from the expectation that Big Kim would be coming to Haarlem on Saturday for a final session at Cafe Briljant, there was every appearance we’d be limping home on Sunday.

Like oft times before …