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Markus Anecdotes - Christmas in Dordrecht

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

Written by Markus with Photos by Markus

Dordrecht keeps surprising me. We live in Dordrecht for about one year. Moving to specifically Dordrecht was not the basis of moving. It was based not on choice of city, but purely based on a number of practical needs: max 10 minutes walk to (main) train station; ability to park two cars within 5 minutes walking at “residents-fees”; few minutes’ walk to supermarkets and restaurants; more than 200m2 living space and it had to be in the region of Rotterdam.

Being a certified category and contract manager, I took a systematic approach by scoring available options against said requirements. You may have noticed that this means there was no preference for a specific city and hence, reputation of a city did not play a part in the decision.

This is how we ended up in Dordrecht. People around me said I was nuts, as Dordrecht has a relative bad reputation around safety and the type of residents. I found this does not match at all with the experiences I have in this wonderful city.

So to be clear, this is pertaining to the historical city center as that is where I live: smack down in the middle of the shopping area, surrounded by many large and shops and small shopping malls, (wet-)markets and countless restaurants and bars. Here you’ll get a house twice the size you’ll get in big cities and oddly: no neighbors as both left and right are offices and storage for big retailers. And as not many people actually live here, parking places are always available for residents.

But this is not what keeps surprising me. This would be the city itself and what is organized by the government. I not really read the local newspaper, so every time there’s an event, it is a surprise. For example suddenly the city center was filled with steam trucks, cars and so on during the “ Dordrecht steam event”. Or an art event, where dozens of houses suddenly become galleries. There are music festivals and commemorative events. And much more. And all this is unfolding right in front of my door.

So this year is the first year I’ eagerly am awaiting what will happen in the December month and this time I’m going to be prepared.

From 9 December till 8 January the city organizes the “Dordrecht December Days”. Every day there is something to do:

Of course shops will be Christmas themed, resulting in many lights in every window. Museums and churches open their doors. And there will be many street performers playing music and sing their hearts out.

But what I’m really looking forward to is just walking around the historical city center and together with my dog, watching all the lights, walk into whatever building has opened its door and feel like it is not 2022 but 1922. This as I found through Youtube that the city center has been kept the same as it was 100 (or more) years ago. With the older building sbeing from the 1500’s, the city has very well preserved the building from that time. The whole center seems to be deemed a monument, hence it all seems to look the same for centuries.

Now add Christmas trees, lights and choirs singing to this, and what you get is one huge museum, throwing you back in time.

Some examples:

City hall:

Christmas setup on a inner-building-square:

A shopping street:

The harbor:

Part of the fun is of course that these things are to me always a surprise. So let’s see how it will be if it is not a surprise and I’ve actually prepared on what to do and where to walk or cycle to. My list is not yet decided on, but I do have prepared a Christmas sweater for my dachshund, got myself new warm sweaters and am looking forward in once again exploring the city.

One thing I do know: I’m starting not to mind paying high taxes as it seems to be spend on entertaining me, my daughter and my dog with things I never knew I’d enjoy. Perhaps a waste to others, but to me I’m starting to feel like I’m living in a historical themed theme park. And I love it.

Hopefully next time I’ll update you on how it all actually unfolded.

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