Sometimes the internet makes it seems as though we know more than we possibly can. It’s at our fingertips but it’s infinite. We can find almost anything if we try, but we don’t always know exactly what it is we’re looking for.
A few weeks ago, Steve and I found something that surprised us. It wasn’t something we found on the internet, but a small city we came by en-route back to London.
That city was called Utrecht.
We found ourselves there after a yoga teacher I admire had serendipitously scheduled a workshop in the city, which coincided with our journey home and only added around an hour to the drive time. We were so delighted by the timing that we gave little thought to the workshop’s location. We just booked a hostel and drove the six hours to get there, ready to study the following day.
The first hint that we were somewhere special was the cyclists. We consider ourselves spoilt in Berlin with cycle paths, but there they’re as wide as the roads. And then came the canals, glowing gold in the evening rays, surrounded by trees and dappled sunlight. The night was balmy and the pavements filled with beautiful, smiling people. The word “idyllic” flashed in our minds.
Utrecht is a place that makes smiles. It’s the smallest of The Netherand’s four cities and locals refer to it as “The Village”, a nickname that the city embodies. Cobbled streets and medieval architecture along two-tiered canal ways create a recipe of charming delight. Add to that a plethora of new wave coffee shops, independent bookstores and cosy restaurants, and we found ourselves enchanted.
We only had one night in Utrecht but we’re certain we’ll return. It struck a chord with us and left us hungry for more.
There are places we dream of going to – Kathmandu, Tokyo, Cape Town – but sometimes the best visits are the ones you never knew you wanted.
Here are some photos of the city:
What places have you discovered on your travels that took you by surprise? Have you been to Utrecht? Did you love it as much as we did?