Day 5: Recovery day, and hanging out in Utrecht

Due to A and I staying up until 2 this morning trying again (in vain, alas) to figure out whether we’ll go to Prague this weekend (the fares went up, so we’re debating again), we decided to sleep in a bit this morning, until about 9:30 (or 10:30, on A’s part). Then our plan was to head over to the other side of Utrecht, to check out their best-known landmark, the Dom Tower, which is the highest church tower in the Netherlands. However, U was once again working from home, so we got caught up eating, drinking tea and chatting, and didn’t actually head out the door until just after 4. Unfortunately, once we took a closer look at the Tower’s info in our guide book while waiting for the bus into town, we realized that we wouldn’t make it to the place before it shut down at 5 (all the stores and tourist attractions here closes around 5 or 6, it’s very annoying).

Centraal Station, which is where we were headed, has a ton of shopping/food inside and around it, so we instead decided to stop in there and try some famous Dutch frites (fries). We grabbed some at the first stall we came across, and got a side sauce supposedly curry flavored. We, however, decided it tasted more like a sweet tamarind sauce. All the fries places, as we saw later, supply you with these mini fork things, which makes eating the fries much easier.

Next, we got distracted by an H&M store in the station (like Starbucks in Seattle, H&Ms are on every other street corner in the busier parts of town). I’ve only been in the Seattle H&M a couple times, but was never compelled to buy anything. However, I did walk out of this store with a long, button-up black sweater (from their girls’ section), a scarf and some gloves. On our way back to the main area of the station, we encountered a traveling band periodically playing music to honor of Saint Nicholas’ Eve, which is like the Christians’ Christmas, but celebrated on Dec. 5 (commemorated by a huge parade). The main figure of this event is Sinterklaas. The band members are thus wearing, well, “brown face,” as that’s how Sinterklass appears. we’re seeing images of this dude everywhere right now..

We then met U at 6:15, and she led us out of the station and to a nearby walking/shopping/eating area off a canal. Even at night, the place was really beautiful, with restaurants also below street level along the canals. We went out this particular night because the stores in town all stay open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays (ooh, fancy!). We got another batch of frites, this time with a more traditional sauce of mayonnaise (very good), and after some more walking around, sat down for dinner at this cool, quasi-Italian place. Turned out they only had a couple of vegetarian/chicken-only dishes, so we settled on a pasta dish with mushroom sauce, spinach and goat cheese salad, and chicken satay with, of all things, a baked potato with cream cheese and chives. U and A pose during dinner:

There was a ton of food, so when the server came to bring our check, I asked if he could pack the pasta up for us. I got a blank look.. So I said, “You know, a container for us to take this home? “Leftovers”? So we can eat it later?” But we just got more blank looks. Finally, U was like “Uh, never mind, we’ll just take the check.” A wanted to buy a version of the glass her beer had been served in (it had the name of a Dutch brew on it), so she asked if the restaurant sold them. The server said “No, we don’t sell them, but if you’re careful, you can be shneaky and take it home.” Yes, he said “shneaky.” Not sure if that’s just how the Dutch pronounce that word or what, but we were giggling over it every five minutes during the 30-minute walk home. They won’t box food up for you to take home, but hey, go ahead and steal a glass!

In other news, we didn’t make it to the grocery store today, so no chip-tasting Round 2 quite yet. The weather made a return to lovely today, thankfully. Tomorrow, we’re off to the Hague (or that’s the plan, anyway)!

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3 Responses to “Day 5: Recovery day, and hanging out in Utrecht”

  1. I must ask… how do you remember all the minute details of the food you eat every day?… do you write things down as you eat them? :)And yeah, you just reminded me of a night we went out for pizza in the Netherlands (2002)–we only ate a few pieces each, assuming we could get a take-home box. They had never heard of such things, but I refused to leave behind good food for no reason! So I spotted their empty pizza-delivery boxes in the back, and asked if we could put our slices in those. They thought we were the freakiest people, it was hilarious. My Dutch friend was embarrassed, but took us through the red-light district there (Groeningen)… and we have pictures of ourselves there with these huge pizza boxes, looking completely out of place. :)

  2. I also remember having problems getting leftovers in the Netherlands which was very strange. Another problem was getting free water (from the tap) in restaurants. Servers (maybe intentionally) don't understand and always want you to pay for sparkling or bottled water."Brown face" performers … hmm. Hard to imagine that going over well in the States!Tell Anuja that her hair looks pretty; that's a nice style/length/cut on her! :)

  3. Johanna: Oh man, I love food/eating, so it's very easy to remember all those details! I'm not doing any writing down of anything, I must admit. It's the first time the documentation of one of my trips is going all digital!That's a hilarious story about the pizza box!! And what great improvising by you guys, haha. I definitely must see the pics of your European travels sometime!Lara: Thankfully, we were warned about the whole water business thing by our cousin before we started sight seeing (for a country so covered with water, it's amazing how stingy they are with it!), so we've been carrying around our own with us. I definitely agree that Sinterklaas would not go over well here, especially after all that controversy over the "SNL" sketches with Fred Armisen as Barack Obama! I actually saw some female Sinterklasses in Den Haag today — a little strange. One of them was even wearing Puma sneakers..Anuja says thanks for the compliments :o)

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