Weekend Getaway: Utrecht
I LOVE UTRECHT.
Like really. It’s a lot like Amsterdam but it’s also completely different. Have you been to Amsterdam? It’s wonderful. It’s an amazing European capitol. It’s vibrant and fun and busy and there’s so much to see. But it isn’t fully Dutch. It’s an international city: almost everyone will speak English to you immediately, all American cards are accepted, there are huuuuge groups of tourists from all around the world wandering around (usually looking for a coffeeshop), and all different kinds of stores. It’s not a bad thing, I just don’t feel like it’s a perfect representation of Dutch culture.
But Utrecht… I feel like Utrecht encompasses the Dutch culture.
- It’s a bustling university city with students always running to class or catching up with friends, it’s busy and social.
- There’s SO much history here: there’s evidence that the city was inhabited during the Stone Age and the Bronze Age, the Romans “founded” it when thinking of expanding north in 50CE, it was the centre of Christianity in the Netherlands (it’s still considered to be), and so much more.
- Everyone is outwardly friendly. Walking into any store and you’ll be sure to be greeted with someone, somewhere in the winkel, shouting, “Hoi!”.
- Art. I don’t know if you know but the Dutch have a long history of amazing artists (with a lot of them seeking inspiration in Delft, an amazingly cute town near Den Haag). Fitting to Dutch art culture, there are countless galleries lining the quaint streets of Utrecht. There’s one I particularly enjoy every time I’m in town: it’s on the left side of the street facing de Domtoren (the large clock tower in the center of town), I can’t recall it’s name now but will update later.
So, I have come to Utrecht a couple times since being in the Netherlands.
- Once was a short day trip when Imca (the mom of the family I’m with here) offered to let me tag along to see the city while she goes to a buying fair for her store
- My mom and I also came for a night while she was here (and we also went to a nearby castle!)
- I met with my cousin’s cousin (who is also an au pair in the Netherlands) and her girlfriend for a drink in the city
- I spent the weekend here with a friend from my time at Santa Barbara City College, Brian
Mother/ Daughter Adventure
Geeze, we were so late getting to our AirBnB. We had driven from Ghent to Breda to Gouda (and spent time in all the cities) to Utrecht, we did all this driving while continuously getting lost. We thought we would arrive to our host around 22.00, but it ended up being after 23.00, yikes. We felt so bad but our host was really gracious and it was a fabulous stay at her home.
So after getting a good nights sleep, we got out the door fairly early to get a look around the city as it was just starting to wake up (it was a Monday) (oh, you probably don’t know… in a majority of the Netherlands, Mondays call for lazy mornings and a noon opening time for almost all stores). We were able to walk in the Domkerk gardens though, where we found a bunch of wonderful succulents.
To my great pleasure, we stumbled onto a cafe and bought some lattes and a snack.
Then we found our way back to the car and headed to Kasteel de Haar.
Just look at this castle. There’s a ton of history that goes along with this castle and the property it sits on that I couldn’t possible summarize it all for you efficiently; if you’d like to read more click here.
It’s so luxurious, it’s hard to imagine that it’s located in the Netherlands and not France. Or you know, somewhere else really fancy.
Then we were on our way back home, so I could introduce my mom to Jos, Imca, and the boys.
A True Weekend Getaway in Utrecht
Unfortunately, even though it was in the middle of July, this weekend was rather gloomy and rainy. But not that cold! And we still had a wonderful time!
We strolled through this wonderful book store, where I found tons of books I was inspired to read (but didn’t buy, so I had to take tons of photos of them so that I could remember which books to buy later).
Then there was this artwork on an ally wall that I just love (as I type on my Apple laptop with my iPhone playing music next to me).
But mostly, we spent time in the pannenkoekenhuis along the canal eating obscene amounts of Dutch pancakes. Like really. I couldn’t even get a picture because we were too into eating them to pause for a photo.