Yes, a town name similar to the New York neighborhood, however it is important to note that Harlem, New York is actually named after the Dutch city of Haarlem attributing to the presence of Dutch colony on the early years of NYC.
There is truth to those observations that Haarlem is like a “mini-Amsterdam”.
There are the museums, the canals, the monumental buildings, the bicycles, the cafes and the never-ending list of similarities but actually what set Haarlem apart from Amsterdam is the most obvious reason- it is not Amsterdam, therefore you have way less tourists, less crowded streets.
From the Haarlem train station, the town can be easily navigated either by foot or by renting a bicycle. Most of the places of interests are clustered in one area, and at the town center, a Tourist Information booth is available which also sells local map for 1 Euro.
Actually, no map is needed to see Haarlem. It is one of those places where you don’t need to worry about getting lost for there is fun associated to actually getting lost.
All the action in Haarlem is situated at the main market, the Grote Markt where the heart of the city is located – the towering Gothic style St. Bravo Church. Unfortunately, I visited on a Monday where almost all of the museums were close so I never had a chance to see Frans Hals’ celebrated work.
Molen De Adriaan or De Adriaan windmill is a 2002 reconstruction of the original built in 1779 that burned down due to fire in 1932.
What I will never forget about Haarlem is that feeling that right after I stepped out of the train, I know that I am into something special and that it would be a good day.
This is Haarlem.