Utrecht in the Summer

I’ve lived in Utrecht for almost two years now and I never get tired of walking through the city centre. There’s something very charming about it and I really enjoy walking through the narrow streets, looking at the old buildings and feeling the cobblestones beneath my feet.

Of note in this series of photos is the ubiquity of bicycles and bicycle paths. People from other countries seem amused whenever I tell them that people cycle all the time here. Unlike elsewhere, cycling in the Netherlands isn’t so much a novelty as it is a way of life. It’s the cheapest – and at times the quickest – way to get around in a city.

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Sure, one could take the bus, but this becomes expensive after a while. There are exceptions. Bussing might be a wise thing to do when the bicycle paths are all icy or when there’s a windstorm and cycling becomes ridiculously difficult. There’s no sense in cycling if one keeps skidding and falling off the bike or can’t move forwards because of strong headwinds.

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Below is a photo of a row of parked bicycles in the background. This is one of the open-air parking spots for bicycles and I used to park my bike here until I discovered a sheltered, supervised parking garage (called a fietsenstalling) in nearby Vredenburg. The problem with this open parking area is that there are tree branches above and birds like to perch there. A parked bicycle is often at the mercy of their bowel movements, and I quickly tired of having to wipe mine before riding it.

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The Dom tower is a useful landmark for helping one keep track of where one is relative to the city centre. The tower itself is also interesting and, if one is physically able to do so, I recommend walking up to the top (tickets must be purchased for this). There, one gets a lovely view of the city and, in clear weather, can see as far away as Rotterdam.

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A common sight during the summer is people making boat trips through the canals. I imagine it’s a great way to see the city from a different point of view, although one should be careful never to fall into the water. Canal water isn’t particularly renowned for its pristine quality.

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Especially in the areas around the Domkerk, one sees metal strips with mists of water rising up from a slot in the ground. This marks some historical thing which I once heard about but then forgot. Brilliant.

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Since it’s the summer, ice cream becomes an appropriate way to cool down!

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One other great thing about living in Utrecht is its train station. Being the rail hub for the whole country, there are always connections back to Utrecht Centraal, even late at night. This makes staying out very convenient. Plus NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen, the national rail company) have just renovated the building and it’s massive and modern and rather cool. Now if only their trains would run on time.

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This post reads more like an advertisement for Utrecht than a regular blog entry. No matter. I like this city. 🙂