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September 22nd 2019
Published: September 25th 2019
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We arrived in Utrecht from Antwerp (via Rotterdam) on the quick and efficient NS intercity rail. Our hotel was nearby to the train station and also nearby was the Hoog Catherijne - one of the largest shopping malls in the Netherlands!! After a quick rest, we went to explore the town on foot. Utrecht is basically a smaller, compact Amsterdam (and dare I say prettier). On our last trip to Europe we met two girls from Utrecht, and they told us their hometown was much prettier than Amsterdam (home pride) convincing us to visit. I'm glad we did now! We had a relaxing walk around town stopping for tea and pie by the canal. I then had to walk around the shopping mall while Bill waited at the hotel. Later in the evening, craving some Japanese food we had Raman for dinner at a funky ramen restaurant while watching hundreds of rollerbladers blade past on what we could only assume was some nighttime rollerblade party complete with a car convoy and mobile DJ!

Utrecht is a far more bike-centric city in my opinion. We had recently watched a documentary about how they've turned the city centre into a car-free zone and bike lanes have replaced car lanes. There are massive bike-parks including a 1500+ bike park under centraal station. The next day we joined a free walking tour around town and even locals joined the tour to find out more about their town! The large Dom tower which towers over Utrecht is under reconstruction for the next 5 years and the tower is now completly covered by scaffolding so we decided against the guided tour inside the tower as the very top viewpoint is inaccessible due to the reconstruction. The walking tour was interesting, however it wasn't as succinct as the Antwerp tour so at the end we were relieved to be left to our own devices! We had a late afternoon drink and snack at a Tapas bar, and I continued on shopping (again) while Bill waited at the hotel. Dinner that evening was along the canals - unlike other canal cities, the canals of utrecht feature sidewalks and restaurants at water level. Back in the day, the restaurants were cellars, where traders would sail along the canals and store their goods in the cellars. After dinner we had cocktails at one of the many clubs along the canal (the way they have done up these old cellars into magnificent nightclubs and bars is excellent). All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed Utrecht and can highly reccomend it!!

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