Venlo is a pretty, little town in the Netherlands near the German border. I visited Venlo in November (2021). When I planned my sojourn at my best friend’s in Düsseldorf (Germany) I’d wanted to include a short outing to the Netherlands. I actually flew to Weeze airport which is even closer to the Dutch border than Düsseldorf so the idea was to go somewhere in the Netherlands on my way back to the airport. My best friend M. and I discussed several options and settled on Venlo. You see, I just wanted to spend a few hours in a Dutch town because it’d be a shame to miss this opportunity, of being able to spend some time in two countries after a long time without travelling. I will explore Amsterdam and other cities in the Netherlands (hopefully!) one day in the future.
We arrived to Venlo on a Tuesday afternoon. It was raining cats and dogs on our way from Düsseldorf but as soon as we approached Venlo the sky cleared up and we were able to walk around Venlo without umbrellas. We parked at a supermarket’s car park and the first thing I saw was a stall selling Dutch cheese and eggs and other fresh produce. Stereotypical or not but it was a great introduction to the Dutch town of Venlo. I only had hand luggage so buying cheese or much else was out of the question. I did buy a couple of postcards though.
I didn’t make any sightseeing plan. I’d just wanted to stroll around Venlo and eat something before my friends drove me to the airport. The historical town center had plenty of shops selling typical Dutch souvenirs such as clogs. The Christmas lights were already turned on even though it was just the beginning of November. We just wandered around. I saw a lot of beautiful, small cafes and restaurants but most of them were closed. We were surprised to see that all shops were opened only until 5 or 6 PM. How odd! In Croatia all shops are opened until 8 PM and supermarkets are opened even later. Walking around the streets of Venlo reminded me of a different place. It kind of looked familiar; the architecture, or the shops or something else. I saw some similarities between this little, town and some small, towns in England. Maybe it was just my feeling.
I am sure that we had missed some important sights or museums but we only spent a few leisurely hours in Venlo. Our random walk took us to the town hall’s square. The Town Hall dates back to the Renaissance period. We peeked through the windows downstairs; there was some sort of a banquet being prepared. Another imposing building at the town hall’s square is Cafe Central. We continued our walk and I took photos of pretty doors and pretty houses.
Venlo looks like an interesting place for beer lovers since we came across a few typical brasseries. I remember those from my visit to Brussels. I also saw a few bakeries and candy shops and a record shop. And a lot of bicycles! Yes, there were many people cycling around us. Unlike in Germany, during my visit to Venlo the face masks weren’t obligatory in shops. That was the first time that I entered a shop without a face mask in over a year and a half. I felt naked. I didn’t see any coffeeshops (weed dispensaries) but I guess there were some as those are common in the Netherlands.
To my utter surprise my friends and I came across a shop selling British food and British trinkets. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Of course, we ventured inside and even chatted a bit with the old, British gentleman who owns the shop. I bought a few snacks to eat at my airport hotel. This shop brought back some memories from the time in lived in England. Incidentally, I came across a similar British shop in Antibes ( France) once too.
We returned to the main square, the town hall’s square because we decided to eat something at Cafe central. We made a great decision! The cafe/restaurant is equally beautiful from the inside as it is from the outside. It is a rather big place and it was full but it had that warm, inviting feeling. We had a large lunch back in Germany so we opted for a dessert and some drinks. We ordered hot chocolates and cakes and an ice-cream for my best friend’s daughter. If I had been there with my husband he’d most definitely ordered some beer. Anyway, the hot chocolate was great but the cake I had was divine.
We enjoyed our cakes and hot chocolates. It was time for me to go to the airport. When we returned to the car park around 7 PM we discovered that our car was among only a few there left. Everything was closed and the streets of Venlo looked empty. Nevertheless, I was satisfied with my short foray into the Netherlands.
ps. I’ll blog about Düsseldorf too