So, past weekend I was on a weekend get away with the parents and boyfriend to Ghent. Such a lovely, vibrant and beautiful city. With a temperature below zero, we varied the places of interest with cosy cafes to get our body warmth back. A little travel guide told us where to go and what to see, step by step, with figurines and accessory explanations. Well this doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with exploring Utrecht, does it? I wandered around town, as a tourist would’ve done. Enthusiastic and amazed at every step. Astonished by the beauty of the place then I suddenly realised that I do not walk around in my own town like this anymore. In Utrecht I am constantly looking for new events, exciting things and fresh ideas. But what if I did a winter stroll like I did in Ghent in Utrecht? Would I be amazed and astonished as well? Let us start at the Museum Quarter.
It is a sunny but cold winter morning and you can start your walk with a cappuccino or a fresh mint tea at Keek, a cute lunchroom where you will always find some sort of exposition on the walls and where sometimes in evening singers, musicians or poets perform. Take your time to read the rest of the stroll. Perfect moment to order a fresh egg salad with a cheese scone or have a homemade brownie with cream cheese. Once on the Twijnstraat you certainly need to stop by Berts Bierhuis, a place that has so many beers you wouldn’t know what to buy… Seen enough?
Then head over Nicolaaskerkhof (left at Visjes, if you are craving for fish, this is the place) to Centraal Museum, where you will find next to the fixed collection, also an interesting exhibition with a specific theme. Is your little one (if you have one) already nagging and whining? Then you can always go and see dick- bruna-huis (without capitals, Dick Bruna’s own way of writing), the kids can play games here and read the famous Miffy books. When you are done with the Miffy family?
Continue to walk on Lange Nieuwstraat, is the sun still shining? On this street you can see several beautiful buildings, just be attentive to the facades and sneak into an alley or hidden courtyard because old houses are concealed by this street. In summer it is great to sit at one of the yards with a picnic basket, how romantic! Now turn at the Korte Smeestraat (left) and enjoy a bit of the Oudegracht (right), where several boats and ships pass by. On this corner you will find ‘de Plaatboef‘ as well, good to score some new or second-hand vinyl records. So, we were walking down Oudegracht, here are some nice antique shops and art exposés. On this site of the canal you will also see Episode, the perfect store for shopping your vintage clothes and accessories. When you enter you will already feel like it’s the seventies!
I think we could do with a little pit stop. When you are in the mood for a special beer, Cafe Belgium is at your right hand side. But if you are feeling like a cosy cafe with a view on the canal, then take a seat at Vingerhoed on ‘t Wed. Satisfied by the slice of apple pie in your belly? Time for the AAMU at the other side of the street: Aboriginal Art Museum. The name says it all, but what’s not so obvious is that this museum is unique in Europe.
Let’s walk further to Trans, the street in front of the café. Here you’ll find old buildings, lots of them in the hands of University of Utrecht. Especially language-, culture- and law studies are located here. When you sneak into a street to the left you can even see the Dom tower and Saint Peters church. But I’ve actually send you this way to take a nice walk along the boulevard, when you walk down Kromme Nieuwegracht you’ll see the canal. When you follow this path to the right, there is Lepelenburg park, summertime everyone in Utrecht sunbaths here. But for now it is a great place to take a breath of fresh air. Especially after that special lager you just had (‘cause that was your choice earlier, right?!) and the temporary Australian art you just had to take in. When you take a few steps further you’ll see a strange dome rising up between the trees, what is that? Well it is the museum & observatory Sonnenborgh. This museum has several exhibitions on everything that has to do with the universe. And you can even observe the stars here at night!
Is your stomach crawling and feeling like a snack. maybe your heads are about to explode? Relax! Take your time walking to the Nieuwegracht, here is Rubens Proeflokaal, the owner will spoil you with a cheese platter and several wines, beers or whiskeys. He is eager to tell you all about his product. Highly recommended venue! Enjoy, but drink wisely, for I will send you to le Clochard next. A restaurant that is a bit hidden in a short and narrow street. It does not matter how many times I’ve been there.. I always take the wrong turn. Leaving Rubens, continue your route on Nieuwegracht to the left, here you’ll see some nice buildings again. Take a turn to the right to Birgittenstraat, hop left, right. Tada! Sit down in front to the fire.. And the rest is up to you. Enjoy!