In our Friday english classes here at Hogeschool Utrecht, we have learnt about the meaning of the word “pun”. Puns are basically jokes that take advantage of the possible different meanings of a word or words that sound alike but have different meanings. In this case, the latter part of the definition of the term applies better.
My very close friend Vilja, who visited me in Utrecht for the past four days, is originally Finnish and we met in London as we have been on the same Politics course for the past few years. She has also worked with me in Starbucks for a few months. But at the moment she is in the UK starting her third year and I am here on an Erasmus adding a year to my Bachelor studies.
Back in Stockholm this summer, where I have “lived” for about a month in a small flat rented (for very little money) by my couchsurfing friend Rasmus and where Vilja had visited for a couple of days for a break from her Finnish countryside house, we decided to go to a concert in Amsterdam together in September. A Swedish folk duo we were both really into had a concert date for just €17 and we both thought it was an opportunity we could not miss.
And today I can say that we could not be more right. First Aid Kit’s performance yesterday at Amsterdam’s Melkweg (sounds like the name of a Gay club but it’s just one of Amsterdam’s main concert venues) was absolutely incredible. We enjoyed every minute of it, although we did not know all the songs’ lyrics by heart for a non-stop singalong. A wonderful part of the show was when the two singers (who are actually sisters) decided to sing a whole song without microphones, just pure voice and guitar, and bare in mind that the concert hall was pretty big and the event was sold out. The video below starts with this performance.
Apart from the concert we did a bunch of other very exciting things. I brought her around Utrecht for a few tours of the city, where we discovered nice new places. Actually, Vilja today brought me to a proper second hand vintage store I had never seen before, just next to the main canal. By “proper” I mean that prices are actually very low (jackets for €8, for example) and not sky-high as in many “vintage second hand boutiques”, like the ones in Brik Lane London. For anyone here in Utrecht looking for nice cheap clothes, I would definitely recommend the place. Plus, just opposite this store is a beautiful Vintage-style cafè called Blackbird Coffee which is extremely cozy and offers a very nice place where to chat and have something to drink with a friend (it’s on Oudegracht 222 – http://www.blackbirdcoffee.nl/). I thought that I should create a section of this blog with a list of all these places I suggest. Maybe in the future.
However, I wanted to dedicate part of this post to share my love for this country. For anyone who has not visited The Netherlands yet please do so. Maybe you could treat yourselves to an early Christmas present and buy very cheap Ryanair tickets to here, it is totally worth it. And I am obviously not talking about the Coffeeshops, the pot and the magic mushrooms, but about the wonderful cities, the super-healthy biking culture and all the thousands of small details of this place which make it wonderful. If I had to think of what actually stands out here in terms of cultural and touristy attractions, I could hardly list a few, but I came to realise that it is simply the vibes that the cities and towns give you which somehow make Holland a very special and unique place in Europe, or indeed in the whole world. Undeniably Amsterdam’s architecture and the very picturesque small bridges over the thousands of canals, and the big old windmills you often see from the train when moving around the country, contribute to these “magical” vibes, but visit this country and you would probably understand what I mean (and, no, I do not mean the “magical vibes” you get when you’re high).
This morning while walking though Wilhelminapark in central Utrecht, with the leaves of trees turning orange and some are falling already, we noticed a new “artistic” bench in the middle of the park. When we got closer to it we noticed that you could plug in your headphones and listen to music. Basically when you sit on this bench you can enjoy some classical music which makes the atmosphere somehow even more autumnal and indeed enjoyable. It is something I would expect to see in a major modern art exhibition, but instead it was just positioned there right in the middle of a lawn.
If you are living here in Utrecht, go check it out, it is very simple yet impressive!