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Tuesday, February 07, 2006


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Anti-pigeon devices: Utrecht Central Station

On Sunday after arriving in Utrecht I was exploring the streets and saw this small building with escalators running. I thought to pop in to hide from the wind and warm up, but the doors were locked. Gah. What a waste of electricity. I then looked for some vlaamse frites to warm me up, but all the frites shops (actually, probably most of the shops, period) I saw were closed! It was only when I neared the Central Station that I got my frites fix.

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Frites mascot

The cathedral in Utrecht, the Domkerk, and its tower dominates the city centre. It's the reason why there're height restrictions on buildings in the city centre (one reason why the area is less bustling than it would be). The area connecting the tower and the choir were destroyed in a hurricane, so the tower is oddly discontinuous from the rest of the building.

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Domkerk Tower from Cloisters

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Domkerk Cloisters

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Domkerk exterior

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Ooh, public nudity. Since the inscription below read "1940-45" I assume it's dedicated to those who died during the Resistance.

I tried following a walking tour as laid out in a brochure from Hostel Strowis, where I stayed the first night. Due to the lousy directions, though, I couldn't get past the very start of the trail, and hor lan-ed. Eventually, I wandered so far that purely by accident, I found one more part of the trail, which brought me to the remnants of the old city walls. However, I was unable to follow the trail any further due to the poor instructions.

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Last remnants of the 13th-14th Century city wall.

No Dutch public toilets are free. Gah.

Despite my disdain of jeans in Singapore, they would come in very useful now: not only for the usual reasons, but for the very one why I don't wear them in Singapore - warmth.

If a certain someone could last a year and a half in Cambridge being unable to cycle, I should survive for half a year here lacking the same skill! Though one good reason to cycle would be that my feet wouldn't hurt as they would from walking.

I find that since entering Slavery, I had been inured to feeling greatly thrilled, but once in the run-up to this trip and once or twice since I arrived I've been gradually resensitising myself.

Although one might have privacy concerns at home, when one is alone in a foreign land, seeing that CCTV cameras are present is a comforting sight.

Although next to everyone in the Netherlands speaks English fairly well (and probably everyone I've interacted with, though I'm not sure if some who grunted at me in Dutch understood me), having all the signs around you in Dutch, having people greet you in Dutch by default and hearing everyone around you talk in Dutch is unnerving. It's probably slightly better in Amsterdam (in shop opening hours - see below - as well), but doubtless more expensive.

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Utrecht Canal

After hearing horror stories from a certain someone, I was expecting the shops to be open ridiculously short times (by Singaporean standards) but the opening hours from Monday to Saturday are decent (some shops are closed Monday morning, but who wants to wake up early on a Monday anyway?) It's the Sundays that are annoying - even on the day I arrived, the first Sunday of the month, which was supposed to be Market Sunday, many shops weren't open. It's going to be a ghost town on the other Sundays in the month. I can guess at some of what people spend their Sundays doing, but I'm sure they'd like more flexibility and choice.

I haven't seen any people eating or places selling herring yet - maybe it's an Amsterdam thing.

Travelling in Europe must have been a real pain before the Euro. And travel much more bothersome before handphones and the net.
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