Victoria ventures to Venlo
Living in Düsseldorf has its perks. Walks along the magnificent river Rhine, great shopping, its cosmopolitan atmosphere, the huge variety of cafes, bars and restaurants and finally its proximity to the Netherlands. Being a keen explorer this is great for me, as it means not only are a vast number of German towns and cities easily accessible but also several more across the border! Over the past six months I’ve managed to tick a number of places off my list, including a few Dutch towns namely Roermond (read about it here) and Nijmegen (here). However this time, along with my visitor from the UK we hopped on the train and set off to explore the Dutch town of Venlo.
Venlo is situated in the south of the Netherlands, in the Limburg region and straddles the river Maas. The geographical closeness to Germany gives the town a slight German feel and the town receives a great number of German (and Belgian) visitors each year, who have turned this town into a popular shopping haven. This being said, Venlo should not be overlooked by those who have less of an interest in shopping. The town is also located on the edge of the Maasduinen (Maas Dunes) nature reserve and offers one-of-a-kind landscapes with typical Dutch canals, lakes and forested areas.
On arrival in Venlo, we were greeted with the sounds of music, hooters and jubilation. We soon found out that this was due to the so called ‘Venloop’ that was taking place in the city centre, an annual happening that includes a number of events, from a fun-run to a more challenging half marathon. We were both impressed at the number of people taking part, as well as the number of people out on the streets supporting and motivating the runners.
Maneuvering through the crowds, with the occasional stop to watch the ‘race’ we eventually stumbled across the historic Markt (market square) with its impressive Stadhuis (town hall) and abundance of chairs and tables which adorned the cobbled square.
Despite being tempted we did not stop, but instead continued straight on in the direction of the river. It was funny the difference walking a few hundred meters could make, as we were now in a relatively recently developed part of town, with new apartment blocks and a modern promenade area along the river banks. A small footbridge takes you across the water where you can say hello to Rik van Rijswick’s ‘Peaceful warrior’ sculpture, seemingly protecting the town’s harbour from any unwelcomed visitors.
Veering back towards the town centre, we spent a little time meandering past the so called ‘Winkel’ (Dutch for shops) until we found a place to sit, just opposite from the pretty Joriskerk, in an amusingly named café called ‘Eigenwijs Eten en drinken’. We sat there a while, enjoying a drink whilst soaking up the sunshine and appreciating the friendly atmosphere.
After our drink and more wandering, we slowly began to make our way back to the station, stopping in a shop on the way to pick up a touristy souvenir.
Our short but sweet trip across the border had been interesting and for anyone at a loose end in Düsseldorf, or surroundings, it is definitely a worthwhile trip to make!