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Published: November 21st 2008
Leeds to Amsterdam and Utrecht
Having made much of the band Within Temptation
on the Iceland blog, we decided it would be a fine idea to go and see them in the Netherlands their home territory. For this trip we were accompanied by our good friends Ela and David.
We got the train, a packed Trans Pennine unit to Hull, and then a taxi to the dock.
The ferry crossing was good, we availed ourselves with the food on offer (david managed five courses for the evening meal) and entertained ourselves with some beer and cards. Next morning, the 6am call to breakfast felt a bit early so we were a bit bleary eyed. Once on the transfer coach to Amsterdam we we subjected to the most ignorant, toe-curlingly awful moaning and drivel from a group of 20 year olds who also happened to hail from Leeds. They would have been better off being left on an abandoned oilrig in the North Sea - Ela was extremely fortunate in that she was able to sleep through their constant carping: “eeeh, MacDonalds, I keep seeing ‘em, I’m hungry, man, - what the coach driver doing, is he asleep,
- I’m cold I’m in a bad mood now, - Oh look, Burger King” etc etc - for over an hour.
The bus dropped us off outside Amsterdam Central Station and we set off in search of the Van Gogh museum. On the way were some celebrations involving people with blacked up faces, in medieval costume abseiling down a tall building. This, we found out later, is all to do with Sint Nicklaus and his Moorish helpers. Though why all this is in November and why the Arabic Moors were seen as black wasn’t too clear. Over at the museum, the Van Gogh works on display were really impressive, and the museum was well laid out. We trundled back, through very crowded streets, scoffing a pancake on the way before heading to the station again.
We got a double deck train to Utrecht and neatly found our bus to the B&B. All of us pretty tired.
Next day, much refreshed, we did a tour round the city of Utrecht.The sun was out and it was ideal to check out the Red Lights of Utrecht - well we missed that in Amterdam. So
..at Utrecht railway station
we carefully studied the traffic managment along the main road, where it is radical to say the least. A huge highway has been converted into multi-modal transport: 2 lanes for cars, 2 lanes for buses, 2 more for bikes and mopeds, pavements, and space for parking and still spaces for a grass verge and trees! Traffic jams? Not on this stretch of road! Suitably impressed we wandered into the city centre and the old town. We went in the cathedral part of which had been blown down by a “hurricane” in 1674. (Technical note: it wasn’t a hurriance. Certainly not in the “Little Ice Age”! Still, what kind of storm was that, that could blow down a huge the nave of a stone cathedral? Maybe a tornado. Then for a short time a choir suddenly started with some beautiful choral tones, so for us, an extra concert! All too soon they disappeared and so we carried out our trip around the centre. We found ourselves in a Belgian cafe which was more Belgian Beer emporium and acquired good sustenance.
That evening we were close enough to walk over to the concert venue, across the river. The gig was absolutely
great, terrific atmosphere, the whole audience jumping up and down, encouraged by Within Temptation’s diva, Sharon Den Adel.
Next day, David had to go back, because he was going to Finland shortly after. We stayed on in Utrecht, with the day to spend in town. Unfortunately it was wet and cold, so we were restricted to indoors - and we selected the University Museum as our first port of call. Now that is a zany museum if ever there was. For starters, literally, there is a display of condoms, and other prophylactics and the only display fully in English - are the Dutch trying to tell us something? (well, probably). Next, an exhibition by the Psychology Dept. all about personalities and how that is reflected in how we express ourselves, that was really interesting, and I wish more had been translated into English. Then it got weird and wacky: a kitchen with a stethoscope in a drawer, a huge tongue in a bath and plastic food in a fridge. Downstairs, some history of German teaching, and bits on animals in jars, a small pressure chart, and some laxatives, appropiately enough, branded “Shit”.
Well with all that and after
meal it was time to get the train to Warsaw....
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