City Gems: Utrecht

Travel Column 

By Joey Düker

 

Do you suffer from campus fever and campustrophobia? Is your social network no longer an excuse for procrastination? Travel Joe to the rescue! 

Here are some of the hidden gems of Utrecht:  Hop on your bike or take bus 4 to Janskerkhof and let the journey begin! Students are a hungry and sugar-craving lot, so our first stop will be De Bakkerswinkel at the end of an alley behind Janskerkhof. Next to a small canal, it looks like your average Dutch bakery. But if you go to the back of the shop, you will find a stairwell leading into the cellar. In the summertime, you can cool down in there from the heat – or rather find shelter from the rain; in winter, you can order a superb cup of hot chocolate to warm yourself and, again, escape the rain.

The cellar is the embodiment of gezelligheid. The raw brick walls and arched ceiling give the place a cave-like feel. If you are lucky  and smart enough to pop in on a weekday – you might snatch the seat by the canal. The house cat will keep you company while you order scones or tarts. All waiters we encountered spoke English fluently and are happy to recommend a dish from the large menu. Try their speciality, a carrot cake. Although the prices are reasonable with regard to the quality provided, the place is still a tad pricy for a student’s wallet.

Before going into sugar shock, we quickly need to use up all that extra energy. Leave the bakery in direction of the Oudegracht. Pay no attention to any sights you might encounter and head straight to the second-hand shop area of Utrecht. I neither have the time nor the space to recommend any specific shops to you – see the UcStyle section for more of those details. You’ll have to explore this part of town on your own, you lazy bums.

Seriously, though, visit the second-hand shops. If the items themselves are not bizarre enough, the people definitely will be. Even if you don’t find anything worth buying in these quirky wonderlands, browsing itself is pure entertainment.

Once you returned from town, drop in the food store Olijfje right in front of the bus station. They sell great antipasti and a big loaf of flatbread is only 1€. It’s the cheap gusto alternative to the Albert Heijn – a welcome ally in these dark times of campus food crisis.

Are you still eager to visit new places? Then go to the Uithof and head north; there you will find the Botanic Garden. Trust me, this place will rid you of any eagerness for good. Unless you are into plants (and not cool ones that eat flies or are highly poisonous or have tentacles like the ones in Harry Potter). Compared to other botanic gardens, it is a really nice one. But then again, botanic gardens are not known for their thrill. Come to think of it, what are they known for anyways? Well, at least you can study there without getting disturbed – or distracted, for that matter.

 

“Travelling is all about food. And second-hand shops. But mainly about food. “

– Jonatan Maribalitu

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