Yes we’re alive, and thriving! As much as one can while lockdowns are still a thing anyway. We made the move to Utrecht in the Netherlands and are loving it so far. One crucial part of any move is also one of the smallest parts, being able to pronounce your new city. The move to Vienna (Wien in German) was simple, but this move required a little practice to avoid sounding like a total idiot. If you’re curious, the best way I can write it phonetically is “ooghh-treyh-chkt”. This post is a love letter to Utrecht (you nailed it!) as we have been settling in and getting to know our new spot.
Relocating, we’re pros at this point. Organizing, list making, and purging are all aspects of every move. One big difference this time was Covid. Going from an apartment to a house means more space, which also means more “stuff” in order to utilize that space. Supply chain issues (Andrew talks about this a lot these days) made it tough to purchase the things we wanted so settling in has taken a little longer. We have a couple more things we’re still waiting on but happy with how we’ve made it feel like home. Now that we can breathe from all the bureaucracy and decorating the digs, it’s time to explore our new city!
We’d visited Amsterdam a couple years ago. After living in Vienna, we knew another big city wouldn’t be our first choice. This led us to choosing the smaller, but bustling and hip city of Utrecht. So far it’s been an incredibly easy place to fall in love with. The architecture has personality, each building different from the next yet they all somehow fit together with their brick and fancy trim. Another attribute to Utrecht’s charm is that it’s not nearly as touristed as Amsterdam, making you feel local and comfy from the get. Socializing has been somewhat tough but on a day-to-day basis we receive smiles and greetings, closer to the US manner than the German one. Everyone appears very happy, albeit most days are clouded over and quite depressing.
Utrecht is home to some unique things. Two of which are inner city canals with wharfs and the largest underground bike parking garage (almost 13,000 spots!). Thanks to a local, we discovered the bike garage as you’d be lucky to find a spot above ground to lock up in the busiest areas of the city. Biking is the way to go, but instead of cultural training we could use some Dutch cycling training. Canals are all over but where it runs through the heart of the city is a bit different. They have two tiers to them. The top tier is where you bike, shop, and live. The lower level where merchant ships used to drop goods is now filled with restaurants, bars, and clubs. The wharfs are not only aesthetically pleasing but allow you to feel more secluded when you choose to have a meal or drink down below.
Although we haven’t taken advantage of many (thanks Covid) there are tons of nice restaurants on our list to try. The Netherlands is kind of a melting pot when it comes to food. Of course, we were quick to seek out the typical stroopwafel and bitterballen, which are must tries when visiting. Oliebollen are popular during the winter. Don’t forget to ask for sugar and if they arrive in a paper bag (best of the best), give it a good shake for optimum happiness!
A trip to the grocery store and it’s clear what the food favorites are. It’s not provocative… but it gets the people going! Cheese. And bread. And sweets. Maybe all three together I’m not sure. As I stood in the cheese section, I was confronted with an expansive selection to begin cataloging. Surprise! It was ALL gouda, just different ages. Of course they have others but gouda is king here and I don’t hate it. The bread section was the same, I had no idea there could be so many different kinds and shapes of bread. Suikerbrood is a popular one, white loaf with lumps of small sugar cubes mixed in and a hint of cinnamon. It’s seriously delicious warmed with a pat of butter. Good thing biking is the mode of transport here…
Akin to the mountains in Lausanne, it’s a quick trip to reach the countryside in the Netherlands. I’ll paint you a picture: a cozy winding bike path purposely lined with trees, canals weaving back and forth along the way, surrounded by open country land dotted with gorgeous brick homes. Other than the occasional group of serious cyclists it’s a pretty quiet ride once you get out of the city! As we wait for things to go back to “normal” we will keep exploring the country in the country and enjoy our life to the fullest as always! Now that we’ve updated you on our new city, next we’ll update you on what’s new with us 😉 tot ziens!