Amsterdam, Nijmegen & Utrecht

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Not long ago, Taru and I took a short trip to the Netherlands, and so it is time for another travelogue – this time with an unusual amount of photographs (compared to how void of pictures the accounts of my travels usually tend to be)! Hooray! We spent four nights and five days in the Netherlands, which was also the destination of our last trip. This time, however, we decided to see a bit more of the country than just Amsterdam, and so we spent a night or two in three different cities: Amsterdam, Nijmegen (1 night in each) and Utrecht (2 nights).

Day 1 – Amsterdam

When we left Finland early in the morning, it was about 10 °C and raining. I am not particularly fond of hot weather, but the sunshine and the warmth in Amsterdam was still a pleasant surprise for a while; after that I just began feeling uncomfortable, like I always do when it is too hot. Alas, that is the way things are and there was not much to be done about it, so I just fought my way through it all and tried not to melt too badly all over the place.

We had some time to spend before we could claim out hotel room, so one of the first things we did after arriving to the city was to go shopping for books. After that, we wandered around some more, dragging our luggage with us, before it was about time to head to the hotel. The hotel was located in a nice place not far from the zoo, and we had a room in the topmost floor, with a sloping ceiling and a skylight. It was somewhat unnerving how the wind/trams (or whatever dark sorcery it was) seemed to make the building sway gently – eek! – but the room did suit our needs just fine.

The reason why we traveled to the Netherlands at just this particular time was that we could attend a concert of Aldous Harding. The show was held in a small church somewhere on the outskirts of Amsterdam, surrounded by green fields and small houses. We got to hear songs from her new record called Party. I was totally awed by her voice and how she performed so intensely and unselfconsciously. The connection with the audience was great, and I enjoyed the gig immensely!

That night there was a thunderstorm. I woke up in our swaying hotel room to the sound of rain falling against the skylight above our bed, and listened for a while how the thunder rumbled outside. Too happy to fear of the building collapsing, I soon went back to sleep and woke up next morning well rested and ready to continue our adventure.

Day 2 – Nijmegen

The next morning we ate breakfast at Bagels&Beans nearby the hotel. Before heading to the railway station we visited a stationery shop that we had found the previous day but had not visited then, because the shop had just been about to close for the day. I found some treasures there, and then we continued on and hopped on a train that would take us to Nijmegen.

I admit I knew little of what to expect of the city, but one thing I did know: De Museumwinkel is located there, and we would be visiting their shop. As you might be able to guess, I was beyond excited about this! As we had some time to spend again before we could get our hotel room, we headed straight to the Museumwinkel. What a place! Pictured below are just some of the lovely and curious items the shop had for sale:

When we left, my wallet was considerably emptier than it had been when we stepped in (as could be predicted). This place alone, I think, would be a reason good enough to return to Nijmegen some day. I would definitely like to visit this shop again sometime! Fortunately for me (and others), they also have an online store (the link can be found above).

We stayed at a small hotel called Prikkels. This place was incredibly nice! The location was excellent, the staff was so friendly, our room was spacious, clean and comfortable (we even had a small terrace) and the place served delicious edibles. If we visit the city again (and I certainly wish that we do), I really hope we’ll be able to book a room in this hotel again.

After claiming our room we left our bags there and bought some ice cream from the hotel’s downstairs, which also serves as a café. This could very well have been the best ice cream I have EVER tasted. The weather that was even warmer than the day before (over 30 °C!) might have played a part in this, but I’m also inclined to think that their ice cream was really just that delicious. Enjoying our choice of ice cream (lemon and coconut) we went on to our next destination: the bicycle museum Velorama.

All sorts of old and curious devices were on display there, some intended to be driven by one person, some by two or even three, all having at least 1-4 wheels and every one of them meant for moving from one place to another. There were so many interesting things to see that even someone like me who has no special interest in biking could well enjoy the visit.

Haters gonna hate! (A delightful photograph from the collections of the Velorama museum.)

We ate at Prikkels during our stay, and everything they served was really good. Besides the ice cream, I especially liked the breakfast we got in the morning: we were served yogurt with muesli and fruit, delicious bread with avocado and cheese, a boiled egg and a croissant with jam, plus coffee and orange juice. It felt a bit sad to leave after everything had been so perfect, but we had other places to visit and more things to experience. Onwards!

Days 3 & 4 – Utrecht

Having to wait for a few hours before being able to get our hotel room seems to have been a recurring theme on this trip. In Utrecht we were able to leave our bags at the hotel in advance, however, and so we didn’t have to drag those along when we went to the Museum Speelklok, a museum dedicated to self-playing musical instruments.

The museum displays a huge variety of different kinds of devices that play music on their own. I got oddly emotional during a 10 minutes long presentation in the Museum Expedition area – there was just something so powerfully touching about hearing the music these instruments make, in addition to learning bits of information that for some reason made me ache inside; such as how a brilliant composer had composed music for an instrument like that and, upon hearing the music played by the instrument, had said that “this is how my music is supposed to sound” – and how it was finally possible to create music so complicated that no human could even play it. (Strange are the things that make me emotional. I’m a bit silly like this!)

The rest of the day we spent walking around and exploring places. Finding a place to eat proved to be trickier than we thought, and we ended up eating some pasta very close to out hotel. The restaurant was quite noisy and thus not a very pleasant environment, but at least the pasta was nice.

Our hotel was conveniently located for our needs, but quite bland overall, at least compared to our hotel in Nijmegen. The breakfast was included, and even though that, too, paled in comparison to the breakfast we had at Prikkels, it was still sufficient enough.

Our second day in Utrecht began with a visit to the railway museum. Many of the things in the museum were clearly made to appeal to children as well as adults and I admit I’m not a train enthusiast like Taru, but there were still lots of things to see, and we spent a couple of hours exploring the place. I even ended up in some small rollercoaster-like ride that I probably would have avoided had I known what it was (I’m a coward when it comes to things like that!), but I survived to tell the tale, so maybe it wasn’t that bad.

Afterwards we walked around in the city once more, stopping every now and then for coffee or fries or some such refreshments. We came across a couple of small shops that sold peculiar antique items and other old curiosities, including old photographs. We also bought some chocolates from Lindt’s chocolate shop to take home with us.

Day 5 – Returning home

Then came the morning of the last day of our trip. With heavy hearts and heavier luggage we left the hotel to walk around some more before heading back to the Schiphol airport, where our flight home would leave. We still had some hours to spend before leaving, and we walked around, drank coffee at a café by a canal and ate some more fries.

During this five days trip…
… many wonderful things were seen and experienced.
… we walked 68,5 kilometers (how am I not dead from exhaustion?).
… I burnt my arms and neck in the sun.
… I spent all the money I had taken with me (oops).
… we acquired many lovely items and even more good memories.

All in all, I’d say it was a pretty successful journey.

Now, behold: the loot!

From this trip I brought the following items back home with us:

a Death’s-head hawkmoth in a glass frame
skull of a huge rabbit
skull of a small-clawed otter
two CD-records of music by Aldous Harding
Lamy Safari fountain pen
Lamy Safari purple ink cartridges
a black Leuchtturm1917 notebook
pile of old photographs
a book by Neil Gaiman: Norse Mythology
a book by Neil Gaiman: Neverwhere
a book by Mark Z. Danielewski: A House of Leaves

Additionally, Taru bought seven books in Dutch and the chocolates that were mentioned earlier.

(The only problem we have now because of this trip is the fact that our fiction bookshelf is now completely full! This calls for drastic action – it is time we perform a pruning. Oh no.)

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