Utrecht, Netherlands

Our first experience with a bike parking garage!  What a great idea and for up to a day, it’s also free.  It’s actually painless, so we don’t really understand why there are so many bikes up on the street when there is a problem with bike thefts in Utrecht.  At the door, the attendant puts one of those tamper evident stickers on the bike and gives you a little keyfob. You don’t get the bike back without the keyfob.  Simples! And you keep the fob and sticker attached for your next visit. We have not yet worked out if it is a national system and we can keep the same sticker and fob for Amsterdam.

Actually, bike theft has been something we thought about in the last few towns.  Many of the bike locks are pretty rudimentary, so we wondered if theft was an issue. Its the first time anyone mentioned it – the Utrecht campsite reception told us that theft is a big problem in town, so told us to use the parking garage.

The campsite is fine.  It’s in a park/sports complex and looks out over a lake.  There are many geese that make the campsite their home, so watch out for goose poop ( A rake is provided!)  There are plenty of parking spots away from the lake, but we figure that a little bit of goose shit is a fine price to pay for looking over the lake.

The site has very mixed reviews – There are many cabins around the site which are very run-down.  It’s clear that they are gradually being re-roofed and refurbished, but some reviewers don’t seem happy with this. Toby likes abandoned buildings, so he probably would have happily paid extra to nestle among the yet-to-be-completed buildings!

It’s a surprise that people are surprised by the campsite – it’s been like this for a long time and has a clue in the name – Budget Camping Utrecht. We almost always research each campsite carefully – we look at google maps so we know what direction we are approaching from and if there are likely to be any narrow roads or low bridges, so we have a rough idea of the area and a campsite like this sticks out a mile on google maps – it’s clear to see the roofless buildings.

Anyway, enough about the domestic arrangements!  Utrecht is the last stop before Amsterdam. We have been thrashing around across the country a little to make sure that we had been in Gouda for the Cheese market.  Now we can chill out for the weekend.

We arrive on Friday nice and early and get set up and get on the bikes to the town centre.  The main thing we want to get done today is the Dom and the Speelklok museum. Both are fab!  Toby found the Speelklok museum through a you-tuber that he follows: Wintergartan. Mechanical music machines, some of them of epic proportions.  Great stuff!

Next day and it’s a long cycle ride out to the new military museum and a ride in a tracked troop transporter. T attempt to get a look at Enigma memorabilia failed again.  This museum is supposed to have a copy of one of the German code books that were used for the daily machine settings, but no sign of it 🙁