Written by Markus, with photos curated by Markus
In Rotterdam they have an expression (freely translated): The closer you get to Dordrecht, the worse it gets.
When I moved to Dordrecht, about 1 year ago, I had not much information on this city. I knew it is one of the smaller cities in the Netherlands (about 120k residents), though it is city nonetheless. I knew it was an old city and it is seen as a suburb-city to Rotterdam. The only reason I moved here is the building itself and that it is located in the old city center.
Even though Dordrecht is not seen very positively, I’m getting presently surprised every few weeks with city-center activities. And as I live in the center, having surprises pass my window means they are really surprises to me.
Yes, the location of where I live is perfect: only minutes walking to the nearest supermarkets, KFC, shopping malls, many restaurants and much more. But this is not what surprises me.
In the year I live here, more than half was quiet due to Corona lockdown. In the remaining 6 months, a few times I wake up to music and people chatting. When I then look out my window, I can see crowds walking around, music bands playing and much more. And once I noticed, I always run outside to dive into the activities. So to me, it is always a surprise.
A few examples:
Big band jamming: Start of April. Barely woken up, preparing my croissant and orange juice in my kitchen to start the day, in the distance I could hear instruments playing and men singing. This didn’t sound like the average “youngster music”, so I walked out to take a look. Having turned around the corner, I found my first Big Band. A bunch of dudes, dressed up like they live in the twenties, were jamming their hearts out. And it didn’t stop here. Almost every square has a band playing. They came from all over Europe to show their skills. And even though I never was interested in Big Band, this rewound (rewinded) the time with a hundred years and the city was dancing.
King's Day, April 26th, the whole city comes out with things from their attic that they want to sell. This combined with street food, music and 150k visitors from other cities. This one wasn’t a surprise as I wanted to sell things myself. It was a great sunny day of playing a “market sales guy”.
Steam day, May 23rd: Imagine waking up to a classical car honking that sounds like it’s straight from a cartoon and when you look out the window, you see steam driven cars, busses, firetrucks and boats. Well, that’s what happened to me. And once outside, I found crowds walking around, male choirs singing sea related songs, street food and much more. I was suddenly thrown back the turn of the last century. While walking around with my dog, we took a bus ride, sailed around on a boat, looked at some bands and played some games. In total, over 200k people visited from other cities, of which many arrived by boat.
Jazz festival, June 4th: Not right in front of my house, but within minutes walking, one of the many stages placed throughout the city, were featuring jazz bands. What triggered me were the number of people walking past my house towards to the old harbor. Some bands were fully professional bands on a fully fit-out stage whilst others were for example bands from a university. Whatever the case, once I headed out, doing a full round to see most of the stages, took me 5 hours.
I’ve now started to check the city’s schedule and found that almost every 2 weeks there’s an event, ranging from 2nd hand markets to large scale historical events. From Museums opening their doors to everyone, cinema’s giving free screenings and much much more. Every two weeks, there will be things to do and see.
Remember though, I did not know this. It feels a bit like by chance having moved into some kind of theme park. And I love theme parks, so I think I may have hit the jackpot.
Really happy with the house we’ve chosen and the city it is located in.
If you ever plan to visit the Netherlands, please don’t stick to Amsterdam only. Its well worth visiting the old cities of the Netherlands that date back to the 15th century. If you consider visiting Dordrecht, do let me know and I’d be happy to give you some tips.