Cycling Recommended – Day 1 in Utrecht

It has been just over ten years since I have been to Europe. Then, an adventurous (but naive) 19 year old. Now, a somewhat adventurous (less naive) 28 year old. Excitement did not hit me until the plane broke through the clouds and the tiny Dutch houses and green pastures began to appear.

The Dom

I am now sitting in an adorable and slanted Utrecht flat of my equally adorable friends, Samara and Leif. To add to the cuteness, you have to take a ladder up to their bed (and you move the ladder to get up to their rooftop patio!). From their west-facing windows, you get a view of this building (as pictured here with a delicious local strawberry):

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Upon stepping foot in Utrecht, I realized I was better off pedaling than walking. Cobble sidewalks are narrow (my suitcase has developed a shrill squeak from dragging it from Utrecht Centraal Station to Sam and Leif’s) and sometimes non-existent. Bikes rule the city and you will feel less inadequate if on one. So, Sam kindly took me to a shop a few blocks from their flat and a young, handsome, wavy-haired man named Ivar set me up with a child-sized rental bicycle (because the Dutch are very tall and I am not). Chain of order on the road: Cyclists > Pedestrians > Motorized Vehicles. Riding abreast is encouraged (and rude to your riding partner if you don’t) and bell-ringing is a must when weaving through pedestrians.

We cycled around while I got a better feel for the city. We caught a craft market off of the canal and watched people hand-grind their own coffee beans for a cup of java-to-go and visited the Saturday flower market. I missed the tulips despite a late season this year and convinced Sam and Leif to grow kale and chard on their rooftop patio. The one and only negative thing I have learned about Utrecht is that kale is seasonal here. Gasp.

Dutch things I have learned: Particularly words that are not directly translated into English, like lekker (which means a myriad of wonderful things but is applied to anything that gives you good vibrations). The Dutch also like to use sport as a verb and unrelated but very Dutch, is the love of bad American covers, like Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It by Will Smith (as I learned while walking through the park while a cover band was rocking hard to the song and enjoyed by many hip people). Eggs are not refrigerated. Yogurt comes in a milk carton.

And now, I leave you with two cat-related Utrecht photos (and here’s to many more):

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