Sights + Sounds of Utrecht
 
 
I realize that much will be asked of me, yet I am resolved to accept it as a great and splendid task.
-Beatrix of the Netherlands

 

In just eight months, my nomadic adventures have introduced me to unbelievable sights, tantalizing smells, memorable tastes, and hands-on experiences.  But the fifth and final sense of sound has mostly eluded me, or at least until Utrecht.  Utrecht is a 30-minute train ride (and 60-minute car ride, interestingly enough) from Amsterdam and home to the UNESCO-inscribed Rietveld Schröder House and kid-at-heart Museum Speelklok, thus making it the perfect day-trip designation.  From the time I exited the train station to face the delightful sounds of the street organ playing to walking through quiet city streets busy with pedestrians and cyclists (and few cars), the unique sounds of Utrecht were just as enjoyable to my ears as the city's architectural gems were to my eyes.  Enjoy!

 

Museum Speelklok

‘Speelklok’ is Dutch for ‘musical clock,’ so if you are looking for a quiet museum in which to contemplate fine art, keep walking. Museum Speelklok brands itself as ‘the most fun museum in the Netherlands,’ and throngs of children and I agree. Filled to capacity with whimsical and meticulously-preserved self-playing instruments and exhibits on the simple tools that drive them, this is one museum where learning is fun… and loud. These instruments are a relic of 16th-century Netherlands, and many large, colorful street organs were rented and placed in public spaces where they entertained people passing who tossed coins to the busker out of appreciation. That’s some busking the musically-inclined entrepreneur in me could get behind.

 
 

 

Rietveld Schröder House

Wedged between an early 20th-century rowhouse and a 1960s motorway in a quiet neighborhood is this unassuming little modernist house.  Commissioned by socialite and widow Truus Schröder-Schräder, architect Gerrit Rietveld built this family home in 1924 in the uniquely-Dutch De Stijl style (think abstraction and Piet Mondrian).  I made the mistake of not researching tickets beforehand, which must be purchased/reserved in advance, so I didn't get to tour the inside of the UNESCO-inscribed house.  Despite missing a great interior with no walls and De Stijl furniture, I enjoyed my walk around the neighborhood where I saw some interesting homes either related to or inspired by the Rietveld Schröder House.

 
 

 

Around Utrecht