Winter in Holland, particularly this year's harsher-than-usual version, is a pretty grey and drab affair. But not even the greyest of days could obscure the charm of Leiden, a small town southwest of Amsterdam.
This town - just half an hour's train ride from Amsterdam - is quintessentially Dutch, with its mix of old-world coziness and new-world thinking. Wow, did that ever sound like Tourism 101 - sorry. But it's true. The place is dipped in Dutchness.
Leiden is home to a prominent university (founded in 1575) and has a strong scientific and artistic history. Einstein often visited his fellow scientific homeboys here (you may remember the relative success of MC Squared), and Rembrandt was born here in 1606.
My tour of the city included a visit to De Burcht, a 13th century fortress; a classic Dutch pancake with ham, cheese and mushroom (fantastic), a huge outdoor market, and hours of walking around in general. I even managed to visit the historic Apple store, circa 2003.