Four years is a long time! Because the city had changed quite drastically. The central station was extensively renovated and many shops in the city were located elsewhere or simply ceased to exist. In four years I myself had also changed a lot, so it should not come as a surprise that the city had changed so much.
After sleeping for a very long time -this hostel was not crowded and my roommate was very quiet. For a moment I thought he might be dead, but he just seemed to be a little antisocial.- I went to explore my beloved town in the Netherlands once again.
The place with the highest cathedral in the Netherlands was still cozy. Just as it had always been in my student years. Cold sweat broke out when I saw the thousands of cyclists rapidly approaching me like a bulldozer, and so I looked like a crazy guy looking left and right at least a hundred times before I even dared to cross roads.
I would have to spank my eighteen year old self, because I didn’t visit anything during my time in Utrecht. Not one monument or museum! Even the famous “Domkerk” (the cathedral) or nearby church hadn’t been explored. Today I did so for the first time. And it’s really beautiful!
After I went inside to see the beautiful church, I had become quite hungry. So I decided to eat “real Belgian fries” at Manneken Pis. A fast-food restaurant where I used to go quite regularly when I was studying here. They’re not nearly as good as real Flemish fries, of course, but still… Yummy!
The ‘Domtoren’ of Utrecht
This time I could not leave Utrecht without having climbed all the way to the top of the Utrecht Dom. With a full stomach I decided it would be easier to do. I went to the information center to buy a ticket and a few minutes later the tour started.
A friendly Dutchman with blonde curls took us with him, while carrying a giant keyring with lots of big, ancient looking keys to open the impressive building. The approximately twenty tourists climbed the first steps before we arrived in a large hall. The first room had once been the chamber of the guard. He didn’t really do much besides being present in the building.
We went to a few other rooms in which we each got a better explanation about the church and the cathedral tower. Well organized, because we didn’t have to climb all the 400 steps at once this way. I even think some tourists where physically impossible to do that anyway…
The nicest room was undoubtedly the one with the giant bells or carillons. The heaviest one weighed more than three tons! To get this clock moving, as many as six people are needed!
The smaller bells create an equally loud, but much higher noise and need only one person to make a sound.
The carillons only play songs for special events or holidays.
In the past, it is thought that the bells were used as a torture device. Believe me, being so close to that bell could easily make your ears bleed! Auch!
The moment where everyone was looking most forward to, was of course the beautiful view you get from the 90 meter high tower. You can see for miles on end! It’s very nice to see the roads and water canals from above. The picturesque houses seem so plucked away from a fairy tale!
You can’t stay on the tower all day of course… So after about a half hour later, we huffed and puffed off the tower.
There’s not so much to do and see in Utrecht, and you definitely don’t need three days normally. The reason I stayed three days in Utrecht had a lot to do with some of my friends who lived here. Five years ago, after all, I studied for a year in Utrecht and made a lot of friends.
Tonight I was going to visit Laura. The girl I shared a dorm with while studying.
It took me less than ten minutes for the train to arrive in Driebergen-Zeist, a small city near Utrecht. Laura waited for me with a very big smile and after a long hug she escorted me to her bike.
Today I was clearly not a gentleman, because Laura put me on the back of her bike and dragged me to her cosy little house. My legs were still hurting because of the many stairs I had walked earlier. A biking rack is not so much fun to sit on.
After a lot of chatting, laughing (Laura has the cutest laugh you can imagine!) And fun moments we cooked together.
How could it be different… We decided to prepare a dish from a typical Dutch supermarket and then ate our delicious meal. (It really was delicious, Laura!)
After our bellies were chock full, we wanted to do something else before we again said our goodbyes. Behind Laura’s house there was a gigantic nature reserve. The Utrecht hill crest, if you litterally translate it.
This gigantic landscape had a lot of variety and because of the slowly setting of the sun we got an even better view! We started and ended in beautiful forests, but in between we spent some time on the beautiful moorland. A whole horde of sheep was feeding on this moorland, so that everything got maintained properly.
After a nice day / evening I jumped back on the back of her bike and got back on the train to “Utje“. See you next year, Laura!
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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.