As you might have guessed from the line on my homepage, I am quite fond of a beer now and again (and again and again!). When i went to this place to meet some Dutch friends, I really though I had died and gone to heaven. I dislike the current overuse of the word awesome, but this place really does merit it in it's proper sense - it certainly inspired awe in me.
What is this nirvana, I hear you say. It is the Cafe Belgie in the Oudegracht, right in the cnetre of town.
It is a fairly typical Dutch beer bar, but the selection of beer is quite staggering. there are 20 draught beer taps, of which at least 17 are in operation at any one time. Added to this, there are somewhere in the region of 170 different bottled beers including some very odd things. Please see the photo for the menu and that's not even all of them. I tried the banana beer (much to the amusement of the barman) and found it very pleasant. I did, however, have to draw the line at the coconut beer. the staff are friendly and very knowledgeable about the products sold. They will even give you small taster glasses if you are not sure what you want.
If you like beer, this is an absolute "must see", although I suggest you go there in the evening or you won't get to see very much else in this interesting town.
In Vreeswijk a new museum has opened which is also a working shipyard.
As the information boards inside the museum are all in Dutch the museum staff were happy to take us around the museum and explain things in detail in English.
Part of the museum tells the story of the village of Vreeswijk and you can see how young some of the labrourers were working in the yard. We saw in the dry dock an old boat which is to be converted into a houseboat.
The museum rely on volunteers
Opening times Sunday 1-5pm,
15/3 - 15/11 Wed 1-4pm, Thurs 1-4pm
1/6 - 31/8 Friday 1-4pm, Sat 1-5pm
I always like to know where I can grab a quick beer either before I travel, or having arrived somewhere, and I make a point of finding the nearest watering hole to the Station wherever I am. Well, this is it. Situated on the station concourse, this is a pleasant little cafe, typical of it's type worldwide. Clean, with friendly staff and decent beer, what more could you want? They also do the usual range of Dutch bar snacks. A Hawaiian tosti (toasted sandwich) will set you back €3.
I have only one slight complaint about the place. It obviously used to be a typical Station bar, and it has some interesting old railway photos and memorabilia about the place. Why then they felt the need to go with a Wild West theme is beyond me. There are absolutely incongruous life-sized mannequin gunslingers there, huge plastic cacti, and a glance at the photo will show you what they have done to the exterior! It's only a minor grumble, however, about what is a decent place for a beer and a snack.
This market is held under nice shady trees in the city centre. Stalls are also alongside the Canal. Here you will find plants for the garden, and heaps of stalls selling bunches of all types of Flowers. I was there near the finish, and the stall holders were yelling out cheap prices to get rid of their Flowers. I have never seen so many people walking around with Flowers! I wish they were that cheap back home, and I would be one of them. Very pretty. Located in the city centre.
Is held from 7 - 4pm on a Saturday.
As you walk along the Oude gracht you will eventually get to Utrecht's CityHall which dates back to the 13th century and can only be viewed on a guided tour.
This takes place on Monday and Wednesday from 14.00-15.00, costs Euro3 and a reservation is required.
This is an example of a 13th century Castle, located right in Urecht city. It had a rich history of Knights of old, before becoming an old folk's home, and now is a Brewery, Conference centre, and has a Restaurant. The Steam Brewery is located on the lower level, alongside the Oudegracht Canal. There are different tours that can be done of the Brewery.
For more information, see the website below. It will give you the prices of the Beers, Restaurant meals, and information on the Tours.
I found it on my walk around Utrecht.
With so many really good bars and cafes in Utrecht, it almost seems churlish to single out one for particular mention, but I really enjoyed this place. the staff were frinedly, the music policy was good (I discovered a great new band), and, best of all, they had a pinball machine (the Flintstones, if you must know). They also double as a live music venue.
Housed in a grand Medieval monastery the Catherijneconvent Museum showcases the Netherlands' Christian art and history from the middle ages to the present day. The permanent exhibitions hold both Catholic and Protestant works of art, manuscripts, altar pieces, clerical robes and many other religious artefacts following the role of Christianity in Dutch society through the years.
We didn't have time to visit the museum proper, since we were there purely to meet Sinterklaas, but as an interesting little digression we did pop in to this fascinating mini-exhibition: The Sculptor At Work. In the convent's courtyard there's a small workshop where a couple of sculptors repair and recreate details from the city's churches and other historical buildings. This is an open-door workshop where visitors are more than welcome to watch the guys at work and they are happy to talk about what they are doing.
The Collectors Fair at the Jaarbeurs complex just South of the Utrecht Central Train station is held twice per year.
For collectors of curiosa, toys, coins, dolls, brick-a-brack, records & CD's and much, much more the two fair days will hardly be enough.
I limit myself mostly to the records and I easily can fill a full day at the fair with just going through the vinyl.
The Nijntje Pleintje is a small square bearing the name of Nijntje, a creation of writer Dick Bruna. The statue of Nijntje is made by Marc Bruna, Dick's son. After the statue was placed it lasted several years before the square got its official name.
Both national bicycle routes LF7b and LF9b lead to this square.
Whilst the Dutch do, these days, celebrate Christmas Day on the 25th a far more important festive tradition is observed on December 5th, the day before the feast day of Sinterklaas (St Nicholas). This is the day that Sinterklaas, assisted by his helpers, the colourful Zwarte Piets (Black Peters), hands out presents to the good children of the Netherlands.
Although there is only one Sinterklaas he can be in every city, town and village simultaneously and here in Utrecht he takes up residence for the day at the Catherijneconvent Museum, housed in a rather grand Medieval Monastery. Here he holds court, flanked by a couple of his assistants, and is visited by children of all ages. The following morning he leaves the Netherlands for Spain and doesn't return until the next year.
He isn't averse to getting his photo taken and even agreed to pose with a VT flag - see the pics on the meeting TL - http://members.virtualtourist.com/meeting/The_first_SINTERKLAAS_meeting-4155/
The Neude, the festival square in Utrecht, is another attraction that draws many visitors.
When there are no events taking place, the square has a wonderfully spacious feel to it and the open-air terraces of the cafés around its perimeter silently invite you to come and enjoy a cup of coffee.
This chunk of carved sandstone on the Domplein, just outside the entrance to the Pandhof Garden of the Domkerk, was a gift to Utrecht in 1936 by Denmark to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the city's university.
It is a copy of the stone erected around 965 AD by King Harald Bluetooth at Jelling. Harald is accredited with unifying the Danish people and bringing Christianity to the country. The original stone is dedicated to his parents, Gorm and Thyra, and as well as the pagan symbolism the figure on the reverse is thought to be the first public symbolism of Christ.
Tucked away between the Domkerk and the University's administrative centre is a cloistered parterre garden dating from the late 14th, early 15th centuries. This would have been the monastery's herb garden and these days is a public space especially popular during the summer when there's often live music.
The cloister which runs around three sides is also interesting especially for its Gothic bas-reliefs and looming gargoyles and in the garden's centre is a fountain with a statue of Hugo Wstinc, a 14th century friar.
Entrance to the garden is through the arched doorway leading from the Domplein, where the Jelling Rone Stone stands.
Yeah, it's a restaurant and offers bieren en borrelhopjes; but I don't think it deserves to go into either category - although I have to admit it does do excellent food in the upstairs restaurant. Likewise it does excellent beers - Ouwe Daen en Jonge Daen; one is a great wittebier, the other a doable pilsner. But as I've put it in this category, it deserves it's dues most of all because it's a castle (in Utrecht Centrum).
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