"As Far As My Train Ticket Would Let Me Go!" Oldenzaal by johngayton
Oldenzaal Travel Guide: 81 reviews and 206 photos
WH Smith's half-price book of the week was Craig Russell's "The Valkyrie Song" which is set in Hamburg. I bought it, read it, thoroughly enjoyed it and so I decided, on the spur of the moment, to visit that city.
I wasn't in any rush though, as I was attempting to not go back to the daily humdrum of working for a living, and had a look at the ferry/train options from the UK.
The most attractive, and also the cheapest, seemed to be using the Stena Line "Rail/Sail" package which would give me a return ticket from London to any Dutch station, along with the ferry crossing each way from Harwich to Hook of Holland for the princely sum of £29 each way and then I could get a train onwards into Germany.
To maximise my value for money I wanted to get as close to the German border as possible and so decided to aim for Hengelo, from which I could get a train connection.
On my way out I couldn't find a reasonably-priced hotel for an overnight stay in Hengelo for my specific date and so had a look for the next nearest cheapish hotel in the general area - this just happened to be at Oldenzaal.
Then a quick VT search to find out what Oldenzaal was all about led me to PJ's excellent "Aldenseelen" page and the very attractive pub De Engel. The pub looked good, the centrally-located Hotel do Kroon looked value for money (even if not particularly cheap) and the town looked laid-back and pleasant.
I never did get to Hamburg (I ended up in Berlin instead) but I did get to Oldenzaal and found it exactly as described and as a little doubleplusgood bonus had a very pleasant evening out with PJ and Swanet (see travelogue below).
With over 40 bars, cafes and restaurants for its 31,000 population this little town suited me perfectly for a two-day pit stop. The town itself is compact and most of the main sights could be "done" in maybe a half-day. The 40-odd bars though were a different challenge especially as many only opened at night and so in my couple of days I only managed a dozen or so (although I did visit De Engel on at least 4 separate occasions).
In the 10th and 11th centuries Oldenzaal was a relatively important market town and formally recieved its charter in 1294. The town later joined the Hanseatic League (as a subsidiary of nearby Deventer) and became a walled city.
There's not much left from Medieval times with the exception of the main church, The Basilica of St Plechelm, and a couple of later examples of the period's architecture including the former Town Hall and the Pilgrim's House. The central street layout though is much as it was several hundred years ago with interesting little side-streets radiating from the church and the market square.
As you wander around the town you'll see several representations (I counted three) of the town's mascot - the "Boeskoolmenneke" (little white cabbage boy).
I think there's a bit of Dutch, tongue-in-cheek, humour involved here but by all accounts the area is particularly renowned for its fine white cabbages which were highly sought after by discerning gourmets on market days.
- Pros:Definitely Not Amsterdam!
- Cons:Having To Pay The Full Fare On The Train To Hengelo ;(
- In a nutshell:Well Worth The Adventure!
This little ice-cream parlour on Bischopstraat was doing a roaring trade with the local youngsters every night I was... more travel advice
When the noontime sun is high this "Grand Cafe" style place is ideally located on the shady corner of the main market... more travel advice
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