Visiting Utrecht, NL

I got the opportunity to travel for my job to Utrecht, The Netherlands. Almost two weeks, though I spend the weekend with my parents in Belgium. It had been good, learned lots about MySQL Cluster (which was the intention), visited the city and got stressed by bikes!

My first day was weird. I do speak Dutch, but since I’m starting to learn German and speak/write/read lots of English, I’m starting to have problems when speaking my mother tongue. I got totally confused when I asked something in Dutch to a lady, and got an answer in English, while she was speaking Dutch with her husband. I was really wondering in what language I addressed her, so continued in English..

The first hotel was Park Plaza, just near the train station. I forgot how much was being payed, but if I recall correctly it was a special price. What I do know is that the internet connection was 22 EUR for a day, or better an evening.. Way too much if you ask me. But ok, it was a good connection and we needed it.

I shared the room with my colleague Harrison who flew all the way from upstate New York. This was the first time we were meeting, which was a good excuse to go for a nice dinner! We went to King Arthur. There I learned that Duvel was quite famous indeed! Had 2 of them, my colleague liked it as well and we had some good food.

My work was attending a training, and of course I just can’t say here where it was and for who it was. But it was great: useful training (3 days!), nice atmosphere, and good to see an office again.

Utrecht, I guess like any other Dutch town/village, has lots of traffic. Cars, buses, and.. bicycles! We had to catch a bus just at the train station, and it was so stressful to cross a street for bicycles! They are driving fast in both directions, have apparently total priority and I think will kill you as a pedestrian! I’m driving my bike as well, but usually on the normal streets along the cars, but this was crazy. Well, it’s good they do it, it’s good for the environment, but when you see that for the first time.. And the buses are driving nuts as well. I haven’t seen any accidents, so I guess the people there are just used to it.

The second week was no training, but me shadowing my colleague Partha, who flew in from New York city. This was a full week and I got in on Monday. We stayed in a Thai hotel/restaurant called Little Siam. I must say, it’s like nothing compared with a the Park Plaza. It’s the thing you would go to when you need a cheap room, fast. We shared a room with two beds, and it had a bathroom. Most other rooms were sharing a shower in the hallway. The room was also not always cleaned etc.. Well, I usually don’t complain, people might like it and I did a little bit, but not enough to recommend.

On Friday I had my train back home to Aschaffenburg, Germany. I took a bus to the train station, nice on time. Arriving there, there were lots of people, weird. Oddly, no train was announced, so I went to international information desk and they told me that 10 minutes ago a power failure prevented all trains driving into the station! Well, so far for my nice drive back home! Strangely enough most Dutch people there stayed calm and later I heard it happened before. I guess they’re getting used to it. My ticket had full flexibility so I just took the train the next day. Lucky my colleague was still at the hotel so I could spend the night there.

Overall, Utrecht is a nice place. I got disappointed first day but that was because of the neighborhood of the train station. Once in the city center, there are lots of nice places to spend a nice evening (which I did with somebody I knew from IRCNet!). So, if you got stuck there for an hour waiting for a train, you have something to do.