Utrecht, The Netherlands, 15 to 17 and 20 to 22 May 2013

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May 22nd 2013
Published: May 24th 2013
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Utrecht, The Netherlands, 15 to 17 and to20 to 22 May 2013

On arriving at the busy Utrecht train station, we caught a taxi to the Apollo Hotel (took 5 minutes!!) which is right in the centre of the CBD. Utrecht, which was founded by the Romans in AD 47, is full of bike tracks and malls. There are more bicycles in the Netherlands than there are people. Everyone rides a bike, in sunshine and rain. We saw lots of bikes with 2 little seats and mini trailers attached for toddlers, saddle bags for purchases, ties for strollers to be carried on bikes and everything else you need to move.

The Netherlands is very flat with lots of water: dykes to control waterways, multiple canals and rivers. It has been cold and sometimes wet. Everything is green. We bought a couple of umbrellas.

The food and drink is plentiful and magnificent. We have eaten tapas, Italian, local cuisine, steak, satay chicken etc, etc. We have samples wine from Chili, Argentina, France and local beers.

One night in Utrecht we did a night walk. They have set up directional lights imbedded in the footpaths to direct you where to walk. We also had an interpretive brochure to tell us what we were looking at as we walked around. In tunnels, along canals, under bridges and on buildings and in their windows, we saw light displays with changing colours. It was pretty cool.

The stand-out building in the city is the Gothic Domtoren Tower (112 metres) which was commenced building in 1254. Only the north and south transepts, 2 chapels and the choir remain, along with the 15 century cloisters and a chapter house. The tower and church are no longer joined as a bad storm destroyed it and rather than repair it, this part of the building was demolished (there was no money to repair it). We climbed up the top of the tower which had 56 bells in it. These chime automatically every 15 minutes. Once a day a 36 year old lady comes and plays them, hence a different tune.

The reason we came to Utrecht 1st was to buy a motor home. Donna Turner from Turner Cars and Campers has established a system for foreigners to purchase, register and insure vehicles. They have really tightened up vehicle ownership in Europe. You have to be a permanent resident now. Donna took us to see one vehicle we had picked out…and we bought it! It’s a Fiat Hymer (German made), 20 years old and has been looked after really well. It has all its service records and has had 3 owners. It needed a TUV (or APK) which is a compulsory 12 monthly roadworthy certificate. As it was a long weekend in Holland we decided to go to Amsterdam for 3 days while we waited for the vehicle to be ready for pickup.

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