“Forget the flash, in which you may exist, the world is your map.”
-From the Letters of Utrecht
Utrecht is similar to Amsterdam in feel with its beatiful canals and beautiful people biking up and down its canals. But it’s smaller and less touristy which might make it better. We’ll see…
We stayed in a great apartment up the steepest, most terrifying, most Dutch flight of stairs we’ve ever seen, let alone climbed/descended. It was on an awesome street, Twijnstraat, which is what one side of the famous Oudegracht turns into when it stops winding with the canal. It was really hot during our time in Utrecht, so we spent most of our time slowly meandering up and down Oudegracht and the other streets looking at the canals and interesting buildings (Utrecht has diverse architecture).
We did do one touristy/sightsee-y thing. With discount coupons given to us by my new friend Afra (thanks!), we went to DOMUnder, an archaeological site underneath the Domplein Square. We learned about the history of Utrecht and saw ruins and archaeological finds dating back to when Utrecht was part of the Roman Empire. Dom Tower is the tallest church in the Netherlands. It was once connected to Dom Church (aka St Martin’s Church) by a massive nave, but in 1674, a hurricane-like storm blew it down and it was never rebuilt. The people of Utrecht were so upset, they didn’t clean up the wreckage for 100 years.
Letters of Utrecht
We thought we were doing another touristy thing, only to find we were among the only ones there. Along a few blocks of the Oudegracht, there’s a never-ending poem called the Letters of Utrecht. Every Saturday at 1pm, a new letter is carved and added. The project is supported by the people of Utrecht through donations for each letter. We were so excited to be in Utrecht on a Saturday! Of course, the only other people who went to witness such a momentous occasion were the benefactors of the week’s letter. Click here to read an English translation of the poem to-date.
Day-trip to Den Bosch
We took one day trip to ‘s-Hertogenbosch (aka Den Bosch) to meet Sarah’s LAM sister, Ine, and her husband Ruud. They generously took us on a really unique boat tour of the Binnendieze, canals that wind through and under the city.
Eats and drinks
We cooked a lot because Twijnstraat had everything you could want: Albert Heijn (the best supermarket ever, and we know supermarkets), middle eastern grocery, bio-markt, bakery, butcher, fishmonger, cheesemonger (with the biggest selection of cheese in Utrecht), wine stores, beer store (which opened during our stay like they knew we would be there or something), ice cream shop, and many cafes. Two notable spots we found just off the main street…
- We ordered take-out Thai from Saowapa. The food was so fresh and light as compared to New York take-out Thai. It was perfect for the hottest night we were there when cooking was just not an option.
- You could probably go into any bar in Utrecht and be happy with the beer selection and the environment. Our favorite was Cafe Derat (which Justin found on a run). It has a ridiculous selection of beers from the Netherlands and 2 cats. We hung out with one and it made our pub-going experience all the better.
Utrecht is a must-visit on a trip to the Netherlands. Doing it as a day-trip from Amsterdam is easy, but that might result in the city feeling like Amsterdam-light and that just wouldn’t do it justice. We highly recommend spending more time getting to know the place.