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About being a tourist in your own city: #MyDeventer

by Emiel Van Den Boomen

Have you ever considered playing tourist in your own city? To spend a full day exploring the places that you always felt were way too touristy for you? To look at your city from a different perspective?

That is exactly what I did a couple of weeks ago in my hometown Deventer. I wrote about my own tourist walk on this blog earlier. On that day I just grabbed my camera, shook off my embarrassment of walking around like a tourist and went down-town. The fun I had! And after that I wanted more!

Bring your friends

OK, so you have been living in your hometown for many, many years. When walking around town, you lack the curiosity that you do feel when you are traveling to explore some other, still unknown city. We all recognize that.
The question is: How to bring back that curiosity and become an energetic tourist in your own city? Next to running around with your camera have you ever considered to invite your friends and show them around town? That’s exactly what I did last week. Let me tell you what happened…

I invited some of my Dutch blogger friends to Deventer. Would they be as enthusiastic about the city as I am? Would I be the perfect local guide? The funny thing was to see their approach towards the city and its residents: totally refreshing! More about that later.

Their visit helped me to see Deventer from a different perspective. I also didn’t need to worry about being the perfect guide: they developed their own image and opinions based on their personal interests and values. But one thing became clear: showing your friends around will teach you about your own city, see it through different eyes and for sure helps you to become a true local tourist!

Deventer highlights

So off we went on this day end of May. Together we had a great time wandering around Deventer, one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. We climbed the 220 steps up the tower of the big Lebuïnus church. Something I only did once before, 7 or 8 years ago. But it’s a must for visitors: the view is magnificent, totally worth the € 2,50 entrance fee and the steep climb. Watch the river IJssel meander in this typical Dutch landscape. Sometimes can you can look as far as 30 kilometers or more (that’s how flat it is over here…). Don’t forget to check the website for opening hours!

Of course we also took the small ferry to the other side of the river to enjoy the famous skyline. They were impressed by the facades and gables of the historic houses. I started to again appreciate all the facade and roof views where I almost took it for granted after living here for so many years.

Mind you, Deventer not only offers historical buildings from centuries ago. We also have some modern architectural wonders for you to enjoy, for example our new city hall! Opened recently in 2016, the building is a beautiful combination of modern and classical architecture. Never seen before, the wooden facade holds the enlarged fingerprints of 2.264 Deventer residents!

Travel bloggers @ work

I can hear you thinking: my friends are not bloggers. I know. But blogger or friend, you learn from the way they view and approach things. For example, bloggers are always looking out for unique stories to tell. They talk to random people on the street. I don’t know about you, but when I go shopping downtown I am not stopping random people to ask about their daily activities. But they do.

My blogger friends were interested to learn about Deventer and its residents. And I watched and listened…. learning all new things about my hometown!

For example, I did not know the Borstelwinkel (Brush Shop) to be the oldest shop in Deventer (and even in a wider area). The shop opened in 1860 and offers brushes only! Over 150 different kinds of brushes, all made from animal hair. These include hair from Chinese goats, ostriches, horses, badgers and more. They even sell laptop brushes made from the hair of wild boars…

We also talked to the “Gate Keeper” of the Lebuinus church tower (the tall blond man on the picture) who runs multiple voluntary jobs next to seriously guarding the staircase up the tower. The lady who owns the vintage and antique Bed & Breakfast Walstraat 85 (update 2021: unfortunately now closed) proudly showed us her self-made organic jam (“The best you will ever taste! And no, I have no idea what blogging or social media is…”).

Or what about that 81-year old lady who we met at the weekly market at Brink square? She worked in the city tourism industry long (!) time ago. But she and her boss prevented important historical parts of Deventer (“Bergkwartier”) to be demolished back in the 1970s. We actually have to give them a statue because Deventer would not be so beautiful as it is now…

Another interesting talk was the one with Uwe Dobberstein, a modern artistic blacksmith (guy with the beard). He performs a stunning Symphony of Fire Midwinter’s Night show in Deventer: a powerful ‘baptism by fire and electricity’. Wow….not to be missed each year in December.

Havenkwartier: the alternative part of Deventer

Next to the historical part of Deventer I showed my blogger friends the alternative and artistic side of Deventer: the harbor area or Havenkwartier. Transformed from an ordinary dull harbor area it has grown to become a hotspot in Deventer with (alternative) bars (Piknik and Valencia), galleries and start-up companies in a relaxed, industrial atmosphere. I love this place!

The Havenkwartier area also hosts Fooddock, a food hall where dozens of stands offer a wide variety of (street) food to taste (including some very nice sweet ones from Hemels Lepelen, see below). This harbor area is slowly becoming my most favorite place in Deventer so don’t miss it when you are over here.

Have you read my earlier post about my favorite spots in Deventer? Just click here!

Havenwerk Festival

The great thing about the Havenkwartier are the regular artistic events and festivals happening here. We visited the Havenwerk Festival: an event where 3500 young artists from 5 countries gathered to perform, have fun and learn from each other (by attending workshops). It’s a festival full of theater, dance and music and lasts a whole weekend. This year’s 9th edition of the Havenwerk Festival is growing to become a leading event for young performers in Europe. Being a talent festival it’s actually more aimed at the group of performers rather than (external) visitors. But I like how the city of Deventer provides a stage for these young people and provide them the opportunity to learn and get to know each other. The Havenkwartier is the perfect place for hosting such a festival!

We had a great time in my hometown Deventer! Walking around with Yvonne, Judith and Jacomijn made me appreciate my city even more. If you are interested in their stories, please click on the links below. Mind you, all blogs are in Dutch…:)

• Yvonne from YvonnevanderLaan.nl
• Judith from Worldwife.nl
• Jacomijn from SafeandHealthyTravel.com

Have you ever played tourist in your hometown? Invited your friends and showed them around, or ‘just’ took a guided tour for that matter? Please do! Like me you will learn dozens of fun and interesting facts that you would have not discovered by yourself.

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Jacomijn - Safe and Healthy Travel June 8, 2019 - 11:17

Wat is dit alweer lang geleden zeg! Ik kwam laatst ook weer door Deventer toen ik langs de IJssel liep, het Hanzesteden pad 🙂

Emiel Van Den Boomen June 8, 2019 - 11:26

Klopt Jacomijn, was wel een perfecte gelegenheid om jullie te leren kennen!

nikajane89 June 22, 2016 - 04:46

“About being a tourist in your own city: ” I like the idea that you’ve wrote this article. When I tried to room around my place, apparently, it’s beautiful but still felt being a stranger. Bringing friends or neighborhood to room around is quite helpful. Thanks for the post. You’ve got me inspired too!.


Bama June 12, 2016 - 05:11

Inviting friends to explore your city is indeed a great idea because ‘outsiders’ can provide alternative perspectives to things we think we’re familiar with. I’m inspired!

Emiel van den Boomen June 13, 2016 - 10:51

Glad to know this post inspired you. I always take a lot for granted, especially in my hometown. Sometimes I even forget to show the simple things where it turns out that friends find it amazing! 🙂

Judith | Worldwife June 6, 2016 - 20:20

Ik vond het superleuk in Deventer! En je was een prima gids 🙂 En ja, ik heb wel eens de toerist in eigen stad uitgehangen. Erg leuk om te doen http://www.worldwife.nl/helmond-toerist-in-eigen-stad/

Emiel van den Boomen June 7, 2016 - 15:28

Wat goed: toerist in eigen Helmond! Leuk was het die dag in Deventer. Tot een volgende keer!

Yvonne van der Laan June 6, 2016 - 19:52

Leuk om te lezen hoe jij het ervaren hebt. Mooie, heldere foto’s heb je weer gemaakt en inderdaad, het was echt een geslaagde dag! Ik kom zeker eens terug om de stad ook vanuit de toren te zien, vinden onze kids vast ook erg leuk. Je was een prima gids!

Emiel van den Boomen June 6, 2016 - 19:59

Dank je Yvonne! Leuk als je nog een keer terugkomt, volgens mij kwam je sowieso tijd te kort 🙂


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