On this picture, you see a boat terrace with a view on some very Dutch houseboats. The name of the café is just visible – Pettersson.* The weather looks nice enough to sit outside.
Nice, but nothing special, you might say. And then I would invite you to join me on this terrace someday.
To me, Pettersson** is my city, Leiden. It’s a little café boat, floating on the Galgewater at the end of the Beestenmarkt square. On this picture, I see the Leienaren – as we Leiden folk are called – going home from work, and tourists making their way through the Beestenmarkt, where there’s always something to do. I hear the seagulls shrieking and the engines of small boats roaring. I feel the sunshine on my skin, and if I try, I can taste the white wine.
Here, I have celebrated countless a summer with – I’ll admit – countless glasses of white wine and rosé, enjoying the view of boats passing, the 19-century boats lying at the Kort Galgewater and the old mill at Park de Put.
Here my friends and I warmed ourselves on hot coco on cold winter days, happy that we were warm and comfy inside, looking at the people skating on the ice around the boat.
We laughed, we celebrated, we cried at Pettersson. It was here that I heard one of my good friends would become a father, and here that I heard what the colour of my sister’s wedding dress would be.
I have taken first dates to this place – a good test! –, and I introduced travellers from the Couch Surfing network to Leiden through coffee and a piece of one of the famous cakes at this little boat café.
Pettersson would also have been the place where I told my boss I was planning to leave the company and travel the world, had it not been closed for a private party that day.
I have spent 6 months on the other side of the world. Sometimes I thought of home. When I did so, I first thought of my own bed. And then I thought of this place, Pettersson, the tiny boat café.
On this picture, I see home.
*Not on this picture though – I lost the original picture from the series.
**Also, Petterson has undergone multiple name changes in the past years. It is currently (2022) called Vlot Grand Café.
Dit was mijn eerste opdracht in de cursus Travel Writing bij MatadorU.