I had not visited Utrecht before last week, but it sounded like an interesting city. Aside from its historical and artistic significance, it has been on the news quite a bit recently in the UK because a growing number of students are choosing to study there to avoid higher tuition fees. I have suggested this to my younger daughter who still has to decide what she wants to do after exams , but no firm plans made as yet. Maybe when she finds out Utrecht has the Dick Bruna museum she will change her tune.
Although not a regular running day, and the briefest of visits, I packed my running kit as I quite like to run when I stay in a different place. It’s a good way to get the lay of the land and of course it makes me feel like one of those alpha business types who ‘always’ fit a visit to the gym into their business schedule ! hahaha 🙂
I was staying in the NH Central hotel close to the university, but as I arrived after 10pm did not feel brave enough to change into running tights and explore the city at that hour. Instead I spent the time watching a video on the hotel channel that gave a whistle-stop guide to shopping, eating and sight-seeing in Utrecht.
Thanks to the video I discovered that the Dom tower was a couple of streets away and if you climbed the 465 steps you got a great view ! Travelling sure does broaden the mind.
It was dark when I arrived and when I woke at 7am ( which of course felt like 6am to me ) it was still dark, and to be honest I was going off the idea of running. There is something about arriving in darkness, and by taxi ,that makes it hard to get your bearings and even with the informative hotel video, I was not completely sure where I was in relation to the good and not so good neighbourhoods.
I have a really bad sense of direction, and this is made worse when I don’t have any visual clues, so I was already imagining me heading out and ending up on some industrial wasteland.
I was about to not bother when I picked up a message from my running chum Alison that kind of encouraged me to go out. I am lucky having a job that enables me to do a bit of travel to some quite interesting places, so seemed a shame not to get out and test out the pavements.
By this time I was eating into the time available – so I planned on doing the minimum required to say I had gone running – really just a fast stroll to verify I had gone out and of course have a different map on my Nike+.
But as I passed the hotel reception the two girls on duty were very chatty and impressed by me starting the day in healthy way ( their words not mine ), this was heartening to hear but now I felt that I could not just do a 10 minute run round the block or my ‘athlete’ status would be instantly diminished in their eyes.
Stepping out into darkness it seemed pretty safe as the place was buzzing with bicycles – so much so I nearly got mowed down in a stream of them. I took a left and started along a street towards a canal – when in Holland. I could see the Dom tower as it was very close and is quite a landmark. The streets of Utrecht are quite narrow and cobbled and the main hazard was knowing where pavement ended and road began, but at that early hour it seemed OK to share some of the paths with the cyclists.
I did just over 2 miles – with lots of stops to take pictures and only one small diversion made it back in time for breakfast.