It looks like spring has finally come to Holland, and I happily soaked up the sun and took in the gorgeous scenery this weekend in Utrectht. Holland’s 4th largest city has plenty of water and numerous canals, just as you’ll find in other parts of the country. However, the medieval canals in Utrecht are unique because they have two levels.
In the 13th century, wharves were built on water level creating a two-level street along the canals, with the cellars used as markets selling wine, linen, cattle and crops. The second street is now a bustling pedestrian-way along the water, and the former wharf cellar houses have been converted into cafes and restaurants.
The Oudegracht, or “old canal” is Utrecht’s main canal. Oudegracht curves a bit, following an
old arm of the Rhine through the center of the city and when the weather warms up, the canal brims with boats cruising carefree along the waterway and people enjoying drinks on the restaurant and café terraces.
Wandering around Utrecht revealed some old streets and sweet treats. The Twijnstraat is very close to the canals and is the oldest street in Utrecht. There is a lot of history there, with several churches and monasteries, many of which are now used for other purposes. There are also a number of really cute cafes and shops. The three that got my attention, and some of my money, were Josephine, Keek and Ijs & Zopie.
Josephine immediately grabbed my attention with a window decorated with colorful macaroons and
tasty-looking chocolates. They also offer a lunch menu, and a selection of teas, but I only had eyes for the sweets.
Further down the street was Keek, a cute little café with a bright yellow façade. When I saw it I immediately wished it was my neighborhood café. Keek is an acronym for kunst en eerlijk koffee, (art and honest coffee). Not only is Keek absolutely adorable, it’s also serving and doing good things,
like using fair trade coffee (which they grind themselves), and acting as a an art gallery for local artists.
The art on display is for sale, with the proceeds going to the artist and the exhibition changes every six weeks. And if that weren’t enough, Keek bakes their own cakes, makes fresh juices and they make
their own jams and syrups, using seasonal fruits.
Another place that’s serving up good things while doing good deeds is Ijs and Zopie. This popular shop is known for it’s delicious ice cream, made with organic products and for its friendly staff made
up of students from the local rowing team, which receives half of the shop’s profits.
Tasty ice cream made with organic products that supports the local rowing team? I think
that totally justifies two scoops, don’t you?