Travel Blog – Around Utrecht

19 09 2009

After waking up surprisingly none-the-worse for the night before we did the usual hang around the house thing and checked emails etc. Because Tony’s apartment’s connection wasn’t working this meant tethering his iPhone to his computer and sharing the connection across an ad-hoc wireless network to the rest of the computers. And yes, if you didn’t understand that it is because we had a geekfest going on…

Unfortunately Alyona got an email from her Mum with some bad news so she decided it would be most appropriate for her to go back to Tiefenbruch for a couple of days to help out her Mum. It did mean however that we needed to get our asses into gear because the train would be leaving from Amersfoort in the next town (ostensibly a 40min drive away).

However even though we left more than an hour before we need to be there, a series of wrong turns suggested by the GPS (including a stunner of ‘turn left onto the one way street’ followed by ‘do a u-turn’) meant we were cutting it fine. We did get there in the end and with less than 10 minutes before the train was meant to depart. This being Europe it meant we really had less than 10 minutes to get on board.

Driving pretty much over the footpath to the front doors then parking illegally in the taxi stand meant we got there, got the ticket and saw Alyona off towards Germany alright in the end.

Now, unfortunately due to the time constraints we hadn’t had time for breakfast and it was now past 1pm so we were a little hungry and hungover so decided to head for food. But this was a holiday so we also decided that a scenic stop on the shore of one of Holland’s inland lakes would be more appropriate and we headed towards a spot randomly chosen on the map.

2:30: we were getting nearer, driving through weird semi-industrial areas still under construction and past larger groups of pedestrians seeming to move in the same direction as us but we had no idea what was going on. Then we made it into a traffic jam, still seemingly in the middle of nowhere on a Saturday afternoon and ended up being turned back towards the motorway past long lines of cars by a man in an orange jacket… in a word: weird.

I think it was after 3:30 that we made it to the second randomly pointed at destination where we finally got to park up and look for food (I should point out that Martin was driving this bit, which I’m grateful of :-) ). The town we stopped in was Muiderberg and was very pleasant and quiet. We had a nice lunch of Krokets again, but now we knew what they were called instead of being an item chosen randomly of a picture menu. And of course a couple glasses of beer in the sunshine.

I could show the pics of Martin and Tony with their shirts off but I won’t. Just in case they have pics of me in a similar state…

Lunch in the sun by the lake (f8.0 1/125 24mm)

Lunch in the sun by the lake (f8.0 1/125 24mm)

We then walked along the shore and realized why we hadn’t had much luck with the first place as it seems half of Holland was at a huge musical festival on the opposite shore. It did turn out that there was a shooting or something at the festival so it was probably a good thing to be where we were instead.

The lake which never gets deeper than 5m (f8.0 1/1600 73mm)

The lake which never gets deeper than 5m (f8.0 1/1600 73mm)

Muiderberg was so small it didn’t take us long to walk around the circumference and getting more ice-cream snacks we decided to head back towards Utrecht.

Except that Muiderberg is an evil town. And one does not leave there easily… Seriously, it was only on the third try that we managed to get out, being turned away the first time by our road becoming a bike path and the second by the road towards the ‘motorway’ leading us right back into town.

Trying to leave Muiderberg (f8.0 1/400 24mm)

Trying to leave Muiderberg (f8.0 1/400 24mm)

We finally got back to Utrecht and parked up again. Had a very nice walk around the canals (see obligatory insert of canal picture, you’ll get used to them) and then planned for the evening.

Boats and canals (f8.0 1/500 32mm)

Boats and canals (f8.0 1/500 32mm)

Originally we had intended on going to Amsterdam but it turned out we were too tired and couldn’t be bothered so instead had a relaxing evening watching funnies on Tony’s laptop before heading back out on the town in Utrecht.

First stop was a stroll through the red light district which was as bad as Hamburg’s, and then looking for a place to have a couple more beers. We ended up in this place touting a wide variety from around the world which seemed perfect and we went about sampling a few choice sounding ones from the wall.

Wall o' beers (f4.0 1/2 17mm - Photo courtesy of Martin)

Wall o' beers (f4.0 1/2 17mm - Photo courtesy of Martin)

The best value by far was the ‘Russian Imperial Stout’ that weighed in at 9% alc. by volume and tasted like it too. It even made Martin slow down to our pace which was a feat and definitely put us all over the edge into happy land.

On the way home we stopped for tasty, greasy snacks at a local place specializing in fries (as they all do).

Sat night at the fry shop (f4.0 1/30 17mm - Photo courtesy of Martin)

Sat night at the fry shop (f4.0 1/30 17mm - Photo courtesy of Martin)

And Martin decided to try out the local amenities:

Local amenities (f3.5 1/8 6.18mm - Photo courtesy of Tony)

Local amenities (f3.5 1/8 6.18mm - Photo courtesy of Tony)

Stay tuned next time for the adventures in Amsterdam!

Travel Route

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