PUBLISHED: 15:30 24 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:24 24 August 2010
UTRECHT by Andy McCorkell So it turns out that old rib tickler: What did the Romans ever do for us? is just as comedic for the Dutch as it is for us all back in Blighty. And while our friends from the Netherlands are famed for their own
by Andy McCorkell
So it turns out that old rib tickler: 'What did the Romans ever do for us?' is just as comedic for the Dutch as it is for us all back in Blighty.
And while our friends from the Netherlands are famed for their own special brand of Pythonesque humour, the mystery of its source, for me at least, began to unravel during a weekend trip to Utrecht, a beautiful, tranquil city just a half hour on a train from that riot of colour that is Amsterdam.
And it seems that those classic lines from Python resonate just as poignantly in Utrecht because the city was once the most northernly post of the Roman Empire.
Of course, you will find this all out for yourself on one of the fascinating city tours where, strolling along the tranquil canals, you may learn that it was in 47 AD Emperor Claudius built a Roman fort.
This fortress was their last line of defence at the borders of the River Rhine, evidenced by the many milestones and Imperial artefacts that are still strewn about the city.
Via the river, it was an ideal position to defend the trade route between Cologne in Germany and England.
Utrecht literally means a ford downstream.
The city's 14th century sunken canals have beautiful, pedestrian quaysides that are dotted with appropriately romantic cafes and restaurants.
And, of course, this charming, dynamic, student city has all the bars and clubs to entertain both young and old.
How to get there
Fares to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol from £40 return.
Take the train directly to Utrecht Central Station, trains depart every 30 minutes with a journey time of 32 minutes, for 7.30 Euros.
Where to stay
Malie Hotel (4*), call +31 (0) 302 316 424 or visit www.hampshirehotels.nl
To do and see
- Visit the Centraal Museum (call +31 (0) 302 362 362 or visit www.centraalmuseum.nl)
- See the Dick Bruna Huis Museum with sketches of Miffy, the children's character (Dick Bruna Huis Museum, visit www.dickbrunahuis.com)
- Book dinner at canal side restaurant, Artisjok (call +31 (0) 302 317 494)
- Enjoy Schuttevaer Canal Tours (call +31 (0)302 319 377)
- Take High Tea at restaurant Bis (call +31 (0)302 315 831 or visit www.bis-utrecht.nl)
- Climb the 112m Dom Tower, the symbol of Utrecht, with just 465 steps to climb before you enjoy the quite magnificent views of the city (call +31 (0)302 360 010 or visit www.domtoren.nl)
- Visit Catharijne Convent Museum (+31 (0)302 313 835 or visit www.catharijneconvent.nl)
- Take dinner at canal side restaurant, restaurant de Aal (call +31 (0)302 334 826 or visit www.aalrestaurant.nl)
- Go on a fascinating city tours or one of the Kerken Kijken or church tours
- Watch live music, theatre and even opera on the canal at the monthly music and cultural festival, Utrecht Uitfeest
Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions:
Utrecht Tourism & Recreation
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