I don’t know about you, but I have never heard of the town of Utrecht in the Netherlands. We were looking for a town to visit that was relatively close to Rotterdam but not as large, crowded, or touristy as Amsterdam. Clayton found this little gem of a town which was less than 40 minutes away by train.
We were a bit worried when we debarked from the train. We were expecting a cute, little town with a cute, little railway station. The station was huge (I think there were 24 platforms) and very modern looking. We followed the signs to the exit and found that we were in a modern shopping mall. The buildings visible from the train station looked modern as well. So, we stopped for a cup of coffee (and free internet) to figure out where to go. Once again, we were assuming that the old town was right next to the train.
We continued through the mall and found that as soon as we stepped outside, we were in the old town area. Since it was a Saturday, there were market stalls set up selling all types of delicious food items. I tasted some cheese, kept going past the sausage stalls (I am sure it tasted better than it looked), and stopped for a warm stroopwafel. Gooey deliciousness!
The town itself was all it was cracked up to be. There are several museums, including the Museum Speelklok, which is a museum dedicated to music-making machines. We just browsed the lobby; the admission was a bit more than we wanted to pay (13 Euros per person).
Utrecht has a strong religious history. The Dom Tower and Saint Martin’s Cathedral dominate the landscape. The cathedral is medieval and was changed to a Protestant church in 1580.
Utrecht definitely lived up to the hype in terms of how picturesque it is. It has canals, cafés, shops, beautiful buildings, a castle, botanical gardens, and much more. It is well worth a visit if you are in Amsterdam or Rotterdam.