Autumn in Utrecht, The Netherlands

Whilst this weekend has been a quiet one, last weekend was completely the opposite, and I have only just got round to writing about it! As I had a long weekend off from uni, I had booked a flight to The Netherlands to go and visit my friend Nyree in Utrecht. Yay!

The journey started with a train to Edinburgh on Thursday night, where I crashed with my friend Kirstie. She probably regretted this decision somewhat as I had to set my alarm and get up at 4am. NOT FUN. It was also pouring with rain as I walked for 20 minutes to the airport shuttle bus, pulling my pathetic little pink suitcase behind me and shaking water out of my hair like a dog. The shuttle bus driver then turned out to be an incredibly angry man, screaming at people to “Get off the stairs!! Yes, you!! I CAN SEE YOU ON THE STAIRS!!!” But we arrived at the airport without problems, I bought a tuna sandwich and everyone piled on to the plane. As it was easyjet, British manners went out of the window and it was every (wo)man for themselves, fighting off mothers and babies in the mad struggle to get a seat. I managed to grab a seat both near the front AND by a window, immediately ate my sandwich and fell straight asleep.

After arriving in Amsterdam, Nyree met me at the airport where we bought our tickets and jumped on the next train to Utrecht. It was great catching up with each other and the 30 minute journey passed very quickly. Nyree lived only a short walk from the train station – we took in some of the city along the way, and then had a much needed cup of tea in her flat. That night her boyfriend, Lars, was having a joint birthday party with the theme “-ISM”, and Nyree had come up with a great costume for us – Animal Magnetism! We still needed to get our outfits sorted, so we met up with her friend Joost and headed out to the shops to buy some more stuffed animals and magnet-making-materials. Woop! We also stopped for yummy paninis, although they were made slightly less yummy when Joost spotted a mouse in the bakery display… eek. Apparently mice are a common occurrence in Utrecht. Anyway, it didn’t stop us from eating. After a little more window shopping, we headed back to Nyree’s to devour our newly purchased mojito mix and wine. Always a winning combo.

We had a lot of fun making our costumes whilst knocking back glasses of delicious mojito a little too casually! I then somehow managed to balance on Nyree’s bike all the way to Lars’ flat, where we sellotaped the animals onto ourselves and got into the party spirit. Everyone had made a real effort and some of the outfits were great – several “tourism”, an “idealism” which we loved, Joost’s “critism”, Lars’ “surrealism”… much more than I had thought of! We then got a classic Scottish drink flowing, vodka and Irn Bru, which took affect pretty fast! The night cumulated with me making a cheese toastie, covering it in curry ketchup and falling asleep on Lars’ mattress.

The next day was devoted to being very hungover and doing not very much at all. We didn’t get out of bed until about 2pm, but me and Nyree eventually managed to wander back to her flat – the walk and fresh air did us good, and we felt a little better by the time we got arrived. We had some tea and stroopwafels, and decided to head outside again and attempt to recover more. We strolled down the river to a nearby park, watched a traumatic fight between three ducks (clearly arguing over a female duck) and headed down to meet Lars, who initially cycled straight passed us. On the walk down I managed to get absolutely soaked by a large lorry and large puddle combo, which Nyree found hilarious and I found… damp. Sigh.

It was then time to head back to the flat for a yummy takeaway, Tangled (Lars’ favourite film…HA!), and Joost came over to join us too. We then watched some episodes of Friends and giggled away the rest of the hangover until it was time to snuggle down to sleep.

On Sunday, we decided it was about time to do some actual sightseeing. After a quick breakfast at Nyree’s, we kicked the boys out and set off for a girly sightseeing trip, complete with our tourist cameras. We went on a long walk, getting lost along the rivers and down the cute streets of Utrecht, and taking lots of pictures along the way! We stopped for a hot chocolate in one of the city’s gorgeous quirky bars, complete with a pile of whipped cream and yummy Dutch biscuits, before walking up to the Dom. The Dom Tower is a gorgeous gothic style tower, and also the tallest church tower in the Netherlands – it also has some lovely gardens which we walked around and took more photos! The weather was also beautiful, which was very lucky as it had been raining earlier. We then headed back to Nyree’s to have a quick nap before we met up with some friends for drinks and a game of pool.

After a frantic wake-up from our nap, which had gone on much longer than planned (why does this always happen to us?!) we headed out to a nearby cafe for beer and tea with Lars’, his friend Daan, and Joost. I had a delicious caramel tea before making the move to several glasses of rose wine. Such a classy lady. We were joined by a few more friends, and went to a nearby bar to play a few games of pool and have some more drinks. By this point it was dinner time, and another take-away was on the cards – PIZZA! We went to a local place and then headed back to Nyree’s with about 6 massive pizzas between us. We guzzled it down (absolutely delicious) and then headed to another bar, which was just round the corner from Nyree. More drinks were had, and we played a hilarious game of “guessing the famous person”. It definitely had a more catchy name that I can’t remember. When it was time to leave, me, Nyree, Joost and Daan weren’t quite ready to leave, so we all got cozy on the sofa bed and watched The Hole. Scary times, and not a smart film to watch before bed!!

Monday was my last day in Utrecht, sniff sniff. The four of us all managed to get up at a reasonable hour, and we headed into the city centre for breakfast. We went to the shopping mall to find an open cafe (as everything is mysteriously closed on Monday morning) and I ordered an INCREDIBLE huge banana pancake, covered in syrup and icing sugar. Best. Breakfast. Ever.

Back at the flat we kicked the boys out (sorry lads) to have a bit of girly time together. We had another walk around the city, before somehow accidentally we ended up shopping… oops. We each bought a few pretty things, with money we don’t have, and decided it was time for yet another healthy meal. Dutch apple cake and a yoghurt smoothie, accompanied with a beautiful panoramic view of the city and the Dom Tower – perfect!

After visiting a few more shops, it was time to slope back to Nyree’s and get my suitcase packed. We then headed round to Joost’s house for dinner, and also so I could gape at the ridiculously steep stairs. IMO, if your stairs are so steep you have to hang a rope from the ceiling to haul yourself up…. they are too steep!! We munched back two delicious helpings of nachos, before I said my goodbyes, and it was time to head back to the train station and make my way back to Scotland. After an initial mini-panic as several trains were inexplicably cancelled, I left Nyree at the airport (sniff) and settled down to wait for my plane. It turned out I was waiting a long time, as it was delayed, leaving me with a terrifyingly short half hour to get from Edinburgh Airport to the train station, for the last train to Dundee. Through a bit of luck with strategic plane seating and a well-timed bus, I managed to make it just in time. By the time I sat down on the train I was so tired I immediately fell asleep… and woke up being shaken awake by the conductor on a deserted train. Thanks, fellow passengers, for waking me up for the final stop! The walk home was equally exhausting, but it had been such a fun packed weekend I’m not surprised! It was so lovely to see Nyree again, and her beautiful home city… I just can’t wait for my next visit 😀

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