I am a Brit from London and married to a Dutch guy born in Japan, hello! Having lived in Utrecht since 2004 my Dutch is pretty good but still not fluent so I enjoy sitting between two worlds, balancing life as an expat with that of an integrated “buitenlander”. I chose Utrecht as a place to live because of its proximity to the rest of the country and Schiphol. I stayed because it is the perfect size town with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and enough cafes, restaurants and bars to keep you busy every day of the year – not to mention the galleries and cinemas.
For the first few years I studied and worked at the University of Amsterdam but now I have set up my own business in Lifestyle Management where I help people do things they don’t have time for.
Eating & Drinking
As someone a little obsessed with food it is hard for me to limit my recommendations! Alas I must. When I first moved to Utrecht it was a disaster zone for vegetarians but no more. If I’m in need of a Chinese meal I go to the 100% vegetarian (and mostly vegan) Soy. The staff are amazingly friendly and always recognise you and the food is tasty and plentiful. It is a take-out but also a sit-down restaurant with about six tables. Unfortunately (or perhaps it is just as well) they don’t deliver. They also only take cash. De Zagerij in Rotsoord opened recently. It has become a firm favourite with an original menu. No cheese sandwich in sight! As with Soy, De Zagerij offers personal service making it worth a special trip.
Lifestyle & Shopping
My favourite shop is also where I have my sewing classes: Geknipt voor U. It is near the Smaragdplein and sells haberdashery items as well as being a place to take clothes for repair. Gerda van Bekkum owns the shop, does the repairs and teaches a huge number of classes. On top of that she trains guide dogs so there are always one or two in the shop with her (to be honest, they may have had an influence on my decision to take classes here). If you ever fancied taking sewing classes this would be the place to try, no matter your skill in sewing or Dutch! At the other extreme is Combo Design near the Bijenkorf, an interior design store that sells lights, sofas, carpets – everything you could want. I love their sense of style and almost everything they have would fit perfectly in my house. The staff will also come to your house and help you decorate.
Sights & Events
Utrecht itself is a sight and an event – there is always something happening. If I had to choose just a couple of things I wish more people knew about, it would be walking around my neighbourhood of Tolsteeg and Hoograven. It is green and full of bird song and reaches its peak with the Beatrixpark which sits between this area and Lunetten. It can easily be reached by bike, Bus 8 or Utrecht Lunetten station. Fort Lunetten, two cafes, a scouting group, two salamander ponds, a whole lot of trees and green spaces make it a haven for people and wildlife alike. In contrast (I do like my variety!) a must-see event at least once is one of the enormous second hand/jumble/antique/vintage fairs held at the Jaarbeurs or Ice-Skating Rink Vechtesbanen. Each fair includes second-hand clothes, books, LPs but also so many antique and curiosa stalls, it is a delight just to wander and see what there is.
You can check out my Lifestyle Services company on: englandlifestylemanagement.nl
Or on Facebook: ELMSNL