The snapshot scenes are from the ancient city of Utrecht, a stone’s throw south of Amsterdam yet largely overlooked by UK visitors.
All that has been changing in recent times as Utrecht’s charm factor has raised its popularity among travellers looking for new experiences and different destinations.
As one of our nearest continental neighbours, Holland is a short flight, ferry or drive away.
Once there, getting around is convenience itself.
Utrecht’s roots date back to 48AD and the Romans. At one time it was Holland’s most important mercantile city and evidence of that prosperity can be found round every corner, not least in the canal system, developed in the 14-century to serve the major trading houses.
Overlooked by imposing houses and the city’s focal point, the Dom Church with its 112-metre tower (465 steps for the adventurous), Utrecht’s quaysides are home to a thriving café society that includes some fine restaurants.
This is complemented by a vibrant theatre and club scene serving up a diverse programme of live music and entertainment. Canal cruises include a trip to the steam beer brewery of Stadskasteel Oudaen.
Utrecht is a fascinating mix of old a new and home to the UNESCO world heritage site of Reitveld Schroderhuis. Designed in 1924 by architect Gerrit Reitveld, is described as “an icon of the Modern Movement in architecture.”
Other attractions on the culture list include the Dutch National Railways Museum, the Aboriginal Art Museum and the National Museum which houses a rare collection of musical clocks, musical boxes and street organs.
The City’s guardians have declared the city centre a motorised free zone, making it a pedestrians’ paradise.
Arriving by train at Utrecht Central Station you are immediately in the heart of Holland’s largest shopping mall, Hoog Catharijne; home to virtually every Dutch high street store – a sharp contrast to the narrow inner streets that house chic boutiques, delicatessens and antique shops.
And if you are in the mood to explore the province of Utrecht it has some beautiful castles and country estates to visit. Among them, De Haar Castle at Haarzullens that some say is the country’s most impressive and where the building and surrounding parks and gardens are open all year round.
Others of note include Groenvald Castle in Baarn, Huis Doorn Castle, Zeist Castle and Zuylen Castle in Oud-Zullen.