Wow Utrecht is another beautiful city, it’s full of old buildings and has a big canal called Oudegracht running right through the center of town. I think there are more bicycles here than people as well, seems like the way to get around the Netherlands in general.
Walking along the Oudegracht is a cool experience, it’s definitely the center of the city and it houses many shops and restaurants all the way along it. I visited some awesome hobby shops which stocked everything from comics, Warhammer models, board games, card games and role playing book sets. I would have loved to have a good look through their stuff if I had some room in my backpack. What I love about most of the European cities I’ve been to so far is that just a 10 or 15 minute walk from the center it’s possible to find a secluded area to relax and take in the scenery. This was the case again in Utrecht, where I spent a few hours one afternoon just relaxing beside one of the outer canals.
As with most cities in this area, the feature which stands out the most is the tower which you can see from almost anywhere in the city. The Dom Tower in Utrecht took roughly 60 years to complete after construction began in 1321. It stands at 112 meters (compared to the Belfry of Bruges which is only 83m) which means climbing the 465 steps on the way to the top is no easy task. However seeing the inner workings of the bell tower and the view at the top make it absolutely worth it. The only way to go up the tower is to join a guided tour, which for only €9 is a no brainer.
Probably one of my favorite things I’ve done in the Netherlands so far has been hiring a canoe and spending a couple of hours paddling through the canals around Utrecht. I started out by making my way down the Oudegracht through the city center, neat seeing the same buildings and restaurants from a different perspective. I chose to do a longer loop since I didn’t have any time constraints and took a separate canal out away from the city. Was really an great experience, as I got further away from the main city it became quieter and more secluded. Some of the stretches of water with just parks on each side were really relaxing to slowly paddle down all by myself.
On my first night in Utrecht I had a bacon pancake from De Oude Muntkelder which was right on the Oudegracht. Quite a nice meal and something pretty different, they had all sorts of savoury and sweet pancakes on their menu. The sandwich below is an Utrecht classic called Broodje Mario, named after a waiter called Mario Nistro. Basically a toasted bun with salami, chorizo, cheese and pickled vegetables, it’s quite a popular place around lunch time. And finally there is a busy tapas place just down the road from the hostel which I tried out on my last night there. Pretty good price for several different plates, I think my favorite was the meatballs in a red wine sauce.