FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Day trip to Utrecht

Posted in Netherlands, Utrecht by folkestonejack on March 23, 2011

Arrived at Schipol last night for a short break in Amsterdam.

On the first full day of the trip I headed out to Utrecht for the day, mainly to visit the Dutch national railway museum but also to explore the historic city centre. It was an easy journey to make – just 27 minutes by train from Amsterdam Centraal to Utrecht Centraal, followed by a shuttle train to Utrecht Maliebaan.

It was a somewhat uninspiring journey travelling through a corridor of fog that obscured any kind of view, apart from the occasional ghostly row of trees, but the return journey later in the day revealed what had been hidden – a terrific view of ships sailing along the Oostkanaal.

A morning spent in the railway museum was good fun. It was interesting to see how the museum has delivered an interactive experience through four themed ‘worlds’ to explain the history of railways in the Netherlands that would keep the smallest of visitors engaged (and still amuse bigger visitors). It is a pity that the ‘steel monsters’ from the 1920s/30s are only accessible through what is ostensibly a ghost train ride, but I’d have to concede that it probably works for the casual visitor. The fact that it was so memorable probably speaks volumes for the approach they have taken, whether or not you agree with it.

War Department Austerity 2-10-0 No. 73755 Longmoor is one of the more surprising exhibits at Utrecht Railway Museum.

War Department Austerity 2-10-0 No. 73755 Longmoor is one of the more surprising exhibits at Utrecht Railway Museum.

The restoration of Utrecht Maliebaan station was even more impressive. It was a pleasure to wander from room to room getting an impression of what it might have looked like in the 19th century, although I imagine a royal waiting room wouldn’t be a feature of most stations!

After leaving the railway museum behind I headed into the historic town centre to explore. The cathedral is particularly fascinating as it was split into two parts after a hurricane in 1674 caused the nave to collapse. Today, you can check out the cathedral and visit the tower on a guided tour – though all the tours were sold out on the day I visited so I had to settle for admiring the exterior.

I thoroughly enjoyed wandering around the centre of Utrecht though I’d have to admit that I wouldn’t have been there were it not for the railway museum. It’s certainly a city with alot to offer, even a UFO