Marc de HaanDuring the opening of the academic year at Leiden University, last monday, students were taking pictures.
Now its time to get down to business – no more excuses. You are now a student in Leiden, so what do you really need to know? Mare, your new weekly, provides pointers on how to furnish your room, where to get a bike and where to go for a very last drink at night.
So you don’t have a bed?
Once you have found a place, you’ll have to furnish it. The cheapest way is via the site gratisaftehalen.nl, but you’ll have to find someone willing to fetch all the free stuff for you in a car. The thrift stores on the Waardeiland (kringloopwarenhuis.nl) and on Eksterpad (kringloopwinkel-leiden.nl) do not give goods away free, but they will deliver them to your home.
Ikea in Delft also delivers, but both the furniture and its delivery are more expensive.
But the real student bargains are found early in the morning, when the outsized household rubbish is collected: you haul it back to your place with your drunken flatmate and carry it off to your room, only to discover, a fortnight later, that a nest of mice had already taken up residence in it.
The most important thing to remember is: make sure you have as little stuff as possible -it’s very likely that you’ll be moving again soon.
If you want to paint the walls, pop into the paint shop at Hooigracht 64 or Gamma on Lammenschansweg. But remember: officially, the person who rents the place after you can demand that you paint the walls white again before you leave, so make sure you find someone who doesn’t want white walls.
From A to B
In reality, the only means of transport that is suitable for Leiden’s centre is a bike. Unfortunately, it also means that there is a chronic shortage of storage space for bikes, particularly at the Central Station. There’s a certain amount of risk in parking your bike outside the bike shelters, as Leiden council is the worst bike thief in the town. As part of the “Fiets Fout = Fiets Weg” campaign (or: bike wrong = bike gone), any bikes left outside the shelter are carted away and stored in a depot on the industrial estate De Waag on Willem Barentszstraat.
The owner of the vehicle may collect it there, but will need to pay 26 Euros before he can ride off on it. To add insult to injury, the industrial estate is outside the town centre.
Any bikes not collected within three months are sold at Het Warenhuis, a thrift store next to the depot. The prices range from 35 to 80 Euros and there are always some 30 to 50 bikes in stock. Het Warenhuis is the cheapest second-hand bike dealer in Leiden, according to one of its staff. Large selections of second-hand bikes can also be found at Van Habraken’s (Derde Binnenvestgracht 3A), Van Polanen’s (Oude Rijn 76) and Kaasmarkt Rijwielen (Kaasmarkt 5). Alternatively, if you are not worried about buying stolen goods, you can always buy a bike from a tramp for next to nothing.
Two in the morning
A tough moment: it’s late, the clock has just struck two and you’ve been thrown out of the pub after the last round, but you’re still thirsty. Where can you go now? And where can you get something to eat?
On most weekdays, you are supposed to be inside the pub by one, but on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, it’s two. After that, it is difficult to get in anywhere, so make sure you are inside by then, such as inside Roebels (Pieterskerk-Choorsteeg 24), which is, according to our sources, one of the finest student pubs in Leiden. But there are rumours that you can sometimes get into Lemmy’s on Morsstraat after hours and it’s also worth trying Sociëteit De Burcht or Café Jantje van Leiden (Hartesteeg 8). And if you really want, Part Deux (Hogewoerd 19) is always open. Student fraternity Catena is famous for its continual partying.
Any pangs of hunger can be alleviated at City Snack on Breestraat, opposite Minerva. We recommend the broodje bal, with mayonnaise or peanut sauce. At Sinaï (Breestraat 169), you can get those afterparty classics, shawarma and kebabs. Then there is always Patrick the Baker’s right next to the Town Hall, which is open, even on Saturday, from three o’ clock at night. You can’t any fresher than that.