University, musical clocks and lots of history.
What is absolutely charming in Utrecht – church bells there are not ringing, but playing music.
Going through the city you hear different melodies in every round hour, sometimes even half an hour.
Music floats in layers – depends direction you going to. I had few favorite churches in Utrecht and always stopped to listen the music – it made me warm feeling of home.
Actually Utrecht has a solid “base” of mechanical music. Thanks to rainy day, I cancelled my train trip to the natural reserve in South Netherlands and staid in the town. I had a chance to visit museum of mechanical music instruments, which has outstanding exposition of mechanical music from snuffbox with whirling ballerina to rich-decorated street organes, each at size of ball-room. You can see it alone, but once an hour there is a guided tour, which is brilliant! The guide is not only telling you stories, but he makes the instruments playing music. Figures are animated, music loud and people begin to dance - it’s quite amazing!
...and other photos
I didn’t plan talking about museums right here, but it came alone with these significent singing churches. I will switch back to my story and will write about Utrecht museums below.
WHAT IS UTRECHT LIKE?
It’s lively University City, much bigger (is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands) and much more multicultural then I expected. The Old City is full of magnificent medieval architecture and it build along canals – alike Amsterdam. There are also: a grand train station, entangled in maze of shopping center sleeves (you don’t have a chance to get out without assistance of locals!); numerous museums, monuments and churches; crowd of partying students (in July) and , it said, ongoin festivals – when I was there it was few.
I was told: “The canals in Utrecht are much nicer than those in Amsterdam. You have to take a canal ride”. So I did.
The first thing - I seen the guy who built the ship (a model), right against the boat station. I’m a big fan of ships and everything that associated with water, so I could not miss. I received his permission to watch and to take couple of photos and I even was invited into the workshop – to see more of beautiful ships. His name is Rob and building the (working!) models of historical ships. It is his passion. We chat until my “tour” begun.
Oh My God! What can I say?
Canals are really beautiful, but it is short distance there. So, boat went sloooooooow, swirling between couple of canals. The capitan/ driver was telling stories about every single building, he did it in two languages (Dutch and English), and and no single nerve did not waver in his face in spite of my disgusting behavior. The thing is… that I’m a hiperactive one. I could not sit quietly and enjoy guided tour, like other two couples did. I ran from one side of the boat to another, moving like a dancing fly, I was hunging out of windows and leaning out of the door, trying to make special shots with pocket camera. I almost lied on the his back, sticking in the cap's cabin. He staid calm and unbreakably friendly even when I took memorable photos of my teddy-bear. I guess that he seen even worse passengers.
When I left the boat I thanked him for his top-notch professionalism. What about me - 1,5 hours of the ride was lifelong for me. I swear it's the last time when I joined a tourist activities! Never, never again!
The hostel B&B Utrecht City Center at Lucas Bolwerk, 4 - probably the weirdest hostel that I ever staid.
Adventure begun at online booking – this hostel appeared in few web-sites and each of them gave different information. They served breakfast - which was fine, but they also said that you can eat there lunch and dinner - what ever you want. What a sh..t? Also ratings were various: some choked with delight while others painted it in black colour. Finally I decided to risk and booked a bed in mixed 16 beds dorm.
After succsessful getting out of the train station labirinth , I immediately found the city map (thanks!) and moved there. This hostel is really in the city center, but it’s at the very end of the center – facing the “ring” canal. Another side is already out of central part, formally. Finally I found Lucas Bolwerk street, aha, good to me! But where is this number… mmm.. not here and not there. Somehow at this evening city was full with drunk students – probably they celebrated the end of summer semestre. From third try I stopped near the door with many-many bells and signs of all sizes and shapes. One of them said something familiar, sound like part of name. I rang the bell, but no one answered. I rang another time, and then rang again. Finally someone opened the door in his way out. “I-m-not-working-here” – he muttered before I asked. There were side door and another door inside, and node of dirty sheets between them. Narrow steep stairs climbed up and then they turned into another vertical, almost touching the ceiling. Happily I never travel with big suitcase, so I climbed to the 1st (?) floor relatively easy. I seen the coffee-machines of industrial size and stepped into the open door next to them.
It was spacy room, used as lobby and dining room, both. Few people used public computers, someone eat, and another guy was writing music down on paper. Through the window I could see smoking balcony and fire escape ladder. Also there was a concert grand piano, a black one. It was another big window in the opposite side of the room and a table next to the window. Behind the table I have seen an old mustached woman with impartial face. I greeted her and said that i have a booking here. She asked my name, and while she was slowly checking it up in the registration book, I was staring around. I just returned from Texel, and the difference between completely new and shiny hostel in Den Burg and here…ouch…
But allright, my name is found and mustached lady called the bellhop. “This is Kim”- she said, “Kim will take your luggage”. Kim was a blue-eyed slim teenager with a frowning face. I doubt if it was he or she – it easily could be both: awkward girl or delicate boy. “No, no, it’s not nesessary” – I protested, “I can do it myself!”
“No, no, it’s not nesessary” – I protested, “I can do it myself!”
"It's ok" - mustached lady said, "It's her (his?) job"
Child grabbed my bag and took me back downstairs.
(will b continued)
MUSEUMs OF UTRECHT
I already mentioned MUSEUM SPEELKLOK (museum of mechanical music instruments), and for me it’s nu one in Utrecht. They also manage restauration workshops and music-related events for kids and for adults.
There is another museum that sound very nice and (What a pity!) I came too late and they already closed. I’m talking about MIFFY – the worldwide fame rabbit, which is popular almost like Michael Jackson was (silly compare, but the first that came to my mind). She (Miffy is girl-rabbit) is so popular that she has her own statue in Utrecht and her own television program and is up there on the top ten dutch exports.
Dick Bruna - the creater of Miffy, was born in Utrecht, and here is the museum.
Another museum that I feel sorry to miss was a RAILWAY MUSEUM that situated in an old unused station. I adore trains and it could be great choise if I would go there instead of CENTRAAL MUSEUM which left an awful impression. I have to admit that it was the only negative impression in Utrecht, and in whole Netherlands. Still, I feel uncomfortable saying it, but it was really dissapointing. Everything went wrong there: arrogant service in ticket office (isn’t weird?), the temporary exhibition that made me sick, nervous guardians that followed on my heels in this creepy exhibition (did they afraid that i will do something illegal?), then - complete lack of navigation between the departments of the museum, and, finally, and it's so much ODD for the Netherlands! - a miserable collection of paintings. It was complete waste of time.
MUSEUM CATHARIJNECONVENT exhibits the history of Christianity in Netherlands. It said one of the most facinating museums of Utrecht.