Where In The World Is Utrecht?
Updated: Aug 3, 2018
In the Netherlands, just outside of Amsterdam, there is the city called Utrecht. A beautiful little town that I had never heard of until I booked a place to stay through Airbnb. Small by Paris standards, I wanted a change of pace, and I was excited to be in a country where bikes are a major form of transportation. I wasn't disappointed & if you are in the area its worth the effort to visit Utrecht. It is less expensive to stay compared to Amsterdam and the buses & trains run frequently.
I would be traveling by train from Paris to Utrecht in the Netherlands to Caen, France, then from Caen to London via Pairs & I didn't want to deal with four large suitcases over the next three weeks. What would I do with the two huge suitcases that I'd filled with treasures to take back home but didn't need to have with me for this part of the trip? Google search gave me an answer, https://stasher.com. This website will give you luggage storage options in the area you where you need it. I was able to find storage at the Ibis Hotel, a five minute walk from the Paris Nord train station which is the station for London trains.
Online, I booked using https://stasher.com/. On the day I departed Paris I arrived at the front desk of the hotel, dropped off the luggage & within five minutes I was out the door & on my way to the train station & heading to Utrecht. I left worry free knowing that when I was ready to head to London in two weeks the suitcases would be ready & waiting for me to pick up.
Bottom line- It is so easy to travel by train in Europe and is much less stressful than flying even when there is a national rail strike (like when I was here).
Robert Guards the luggage...
Our host in Utrecht had left perfect directions for getting from the Amsterdam train station to Utrecht. It was far easier than I had anticipated. I was met at the door of the apartment by her son Sam, as Karen & her husband had taken a quick trip to Porto, Portugal. He was so nice & accommodating, making sure I had everything needed and letting me know he was a quick 5 minutes away should I need anything.
This rental property was once Karens office and is now perfect as a rental property. It is walking distance to many shops, bus stops, the college, restaurants, grocery stores, parks & canals. We loved the location. Take a look at the property here: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/6897756
For a small space, it was laid out very well with everything we needed.
The local shops of the town use creative advertising when it coms to drawing attention to business. This was a great little cafe just up the street from where I stayed.
I was amazed at the variety of bicycles there were at the bike shops in Utrecht. Some of these would be great for people I know with kids. The great thing about bikes in Europe is that unless you are looking for a 'high-end' racing bike their cost is exceptionally lower than what they would cost in the US..
I couldn't resist taking a picture of this bike. The people in Utrecht ride bikes regardless of their condition.
Below is an example of the streets in Utrecht. Bikes really do rule here. This shows a two-way street for cars, very few parking spots on each side for car parking but bikes park anywhere. The park in mass on the sidewalks meaning pedestrians have to walk into the bike lane to get around the parked bikes. Gotta be on your toes when walking the city streets.
I was amazed at the quantity of bike storage here. How they find where they parked them is mystery to me. Theft of bikes is a huge problem in Utrecht.
Chiqueolatte is a wonderful coffee shop in town. You can check them out here: https://www.chiqueolatte.nl/ They do have Starbucks in the Netherlands but I must say that, like those in the US, I am not a fan of Starbucks. I will always opt for a local company.
I love the inspirational card that came with the cappuccino-
"It always seems impossible until it's done." - Nelson Mandela
And they threw in a few goodies-lead by example I say.
One of the things I love most about visiting other parts of the world are the interesting & unique ways people find to show their creativity. I thought this to be a perfect example of good imagination put to use. Just walking down an alleyway and came across this open door to a courtyard.
Back in the days, these canals served as as a way to drop-off goods for trading. The businesses were all below the road level as you can see in the photo's. Today there are still many local shops doing business along the old trade shops.
Summer weather is the perfect time to cruise the canals in Utrecht or ride a bike on the canal trails. Pedal boats, electric boats, kayaks & paddle boards.
Great trails along the canals go for miles with cafes & other places of interest along the way.
Love the surprises found all around Utrecht
Riding the canals for miles & miles
Winkel Van Sinkel Cafe
Having come down with a nasty cold & chest cough a few days after arriving in the Netherlands my trip into Amsterdam was not what I wanted it to be. Instead of wandering the town on foot, I opted for the Hop-on Hop-off buses that circle the city. At least this way I could get a sense of what the city was all about.
A short trip train ride from Utrecht let me off at the train station in downtown Amsterdam. Amsterdam seems to be an interesting city with just even more bicycles in the streets than Utrecht.
I was amazed at all the bike stations, bike storage options & public acceptance for optional transportation means.
The photo on the left below shows a two story bicycle parking lot next to the bikes parked along the road. This stretches to the large building in the background. Just one of many I saw throughout Amsterdam.
Just outside the train station I saw this ferry getting ready to depart. Check out all the bikes on board.
More beautiful canals run through Amsterdam. There are 165 canals here.
Many of the buildings near canals in Amsterdam are tilting forward. A very strange thing to see & I really had to question if my eyesight was thinking this up or if it was real. Yep, it is real. To read a short informational about the tilting canal houses go here: https://theculturetrip.com/europe/the-netherlands/articles/why-do-houses-and-buildings-in-amsterdam-tilt-forward/
Glassan Diamonds is known throughout the world for their diamond making skills. Tours are available but I just wasn't up to it this day.
Loved these bookends I saw while walking around the city.
One of the beautiful Churches in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a beautiful city and I only wish I had felt better so I could see & do more while there. Guess that means a return trip!!
Karen, host & owner of the Airbnb, stopped in once back from her trip to Portugal. We had a good discussion about sharing our homes with strangers and how it has enriched our lives. She's done a great job putting this property in shape to rent to fellow travelers. Thanks Karen for a comfortable & safe place to stay while visiting the Netherlands.
Next stop.....Caen, France and the Normandy Coast.