Friday, 7 August 2015

Utrecht: No nave, no problem!

Utrecht, the Netherlands
The most poignant view of Utrecht may be the double bridge you see above. A walk along the canal will provide you with many beautiful scenes, and that bridge was one that I stood and stared out at for a while. In it, you can also see Utrecht's special canal structure, which is actually built a level below he street. 
You can wander along the shops on the street or head down the stairs to the cafés and restaurants on the waterfront. What a lovely place to have a cup of tea. 
It was market day in the square, and as usual we were on the prowl for cheese. This stall was manned by a cheesemaker who raised goats. Their names and faces could be seen on the poster behind his cheese wheels - you could tell he really cared for those goats and it showed in the bold flavours of his wares. Our sandwiches were awesome for the next few days. 
A salami maker offered us a free taster, and he only produced two types: with garlic or without. The shrivelled horseshoe shaped salamis were dense and immensely flavoursome. Even though we would have to slice it ourselves (difficult with our limited camping supplies), we couldn't pass it up. It was the farmers market I enjoyed most of all the places we had been so far for the quality produce. 
We took a break from the afternoon sun in the cloister of the Domkerk. 
Busy bees worked the flowers and visitors admired the arches in the church's garden. 
The grand Dom tower, which is oddly no longer connected to the Domkerk, stands above the canals and reminded me of Bruges. When Utrecht was ravaged by a fire that lasted longer than a week in 1253, it destroyed much of the city as well as a large chunk of the cathedral. The tower survived, and plans were put in place to rebuild the cathedral in a gothic style. Construction was ongoing until 1520, when lack of funds meant the rebuild had to cease. The nave, which would connect the tower to the church was unfinished and the flimsy construction was entirely blown away in a tornado a century later. Even now, the tower and church remain separate and naveless. 
All in all, Utrecht was as promised: a less touristy version of Amsterdam. Of course, it's not that simple, as there were amazing things in Amsterdam and I would never have passed it by. However, for a place to hang out and see unique canals, Utrecht is pretty perfect.