Busy day! Started out with a quick run in the woods behind Cocky & Atie’s house, which are just beautiful — quite a change from the big city and the flat, wet lowlands that lie between Leersum and Amsterdam. The forest has very little in the way of an understory, which is unusual for those of us used to East Coast woods. And there’s a random tower with owls at the top at the entrance to the trails.
By the time we returned home, Cocky and Atie had prepared a tremendous breakfast for us: bread & cheese; yoghurt, muesli, and jam; soft-bolied eggs. We had a great time chatting, eating, and admiring the garden.
J and I then drove to the tiny town of Bunnik, where we bought our tickets and took at train into Utrecht.
Back into a big city! We started out our adventure trapped in the Utrecht train station, which is attached to a giant, multi-block shopping mall. We couldn’t figure out for the life of us how to get out! Consumerism appears to be alive an dwell in the Netherlands. But when we finally emerged back into sunlight, we wandered to the old section of town and over to the Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement, a museum dedicated to automatic music-making machines — everything from music boxes to automata to giant clocks. And the Netherlands has a great history of street organs, which are beautiful and fun!
We had lunch by the Oude Gracht (Old Canal), at one of the many little restaurants that dot the wharfs of the canal. Unlike the canals in most Dutch cities, the canals in Utrecht have walkways right on the water, and restaurants have made their homes in many of the Medieval wharf cellars. Our pizza was fine, and we also had an outstanding Spinach salad.
J and I stopped for sorbet on our way to the Dom, Utrecht’s huge tower that was built in the MIddle Ages.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t climb the tower — the timing didn’t work for us — but we did get to look in the Dom Kerk. There were great examples here of what the Protestants did during the reformation, removing statues, smashing stained glass windows, and defacing whatever icons remained on the walls.
Wandered around Utrecht for a bit, admiring the small houses, churches, shops, and canals. Then we returned to the train station area for a view of the city and our train back to our car (you can’t really see it, but there’s a giant tea pot just over my head in the photo by the station).
Took a brief detour to buy cherries and strawberries at an orchard just outside of town. I think they were the best cherries I’ve ever had: big and juicy and flavorful.
J braved traffic around the Hague to get us into Delft, where we met our aunt Yvonne and our cousins Stephan and Helmer. Delft is a lovely town, impossible to drive in (lots of one way streets and places that cars can’t go), but very manageable and cozy once you’re on foot. They also have an incredible church tower (still haven’t figured out why it comes in four different colors). We had dinner at a restaurant called De Waag, just at the back of the Stadhuis on the main square. Our cousins and aunt are hilarious and fun — such a nice time!
Quote of the day (from Stephan, who thinks peas are “hideous”): “Eindhoven is the peas of towns.” Trust me, it was funny in the moment.