On top of a mountain vol2.

For someone who is fond of taking photos and travelling, the biggest tragedy is if something happens to the camera. One day my camera battery charger decided to leave me. I don’t even know what I did wrong to deserve this. It just vanished from my room into thin air. Thus, I am in desperate search for a new charger. I know some people are struggling to get food, but I am still a little sad for the loss. So I have to use my phone or my action camera. And now I sound like a complete asshole. Oh poor thing, she has to manage with her other camera…

Last Saturday I climbed on top of a mountain (small but I am proud), this Saturday I let my fat ass rest on the car seat till we arrived on top. We visited a place where you can snowboard and ski. Unfortunately, there was not enough snow on that day and for this reason, time was mostly used to grill and enjoy the view.

After all that “long talk”, I will share some pictures.

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Baia Mare mountain

On top of the mountain. Piatra Virgina.

” Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” Albert Camus.

Autumn has always been my least favourite season. I don’t even know why when everything around you is so bright and colourful. Maybe because usually, it does not last long and shortly becomes very dark and muddy. This weekend I went up on a mountain to enjoy the colours while they still last.

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I could not recall ever hiking on a mountain before. And I doubt that I did some mountain hiking as a baby. So this was going to be my first experience going on top of a mountain on foot.  We headed to the virgin rock (Piatra Virgina) that was on top of not a very high mountain. As I heard around 200-300 meters. Thus I was not very afraid or did not expect it to be too difficult.

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At one point I felt how my back started to become very sweaty and my non-smoker lungs told me to stop messing around. Suddenly, I remembered that I am afraid of heights too. The closer to the top the scarier it became and I was very afraid to slip and roll back to the bottom. The ground was covered with leaves so it was hard to find a stepping stone or anything to support on. Everybody could immediately see that I am a dumb tourist who has only lived on the flat ground till now.

Once we arrived at the top, the view was worth every effort. You could see the whole city and the other surrounding mountains. The fears were forgotten.

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I don’t know why the big rock on top of the mountain was called the virgin rock. No one really knew. Neither did Google after I came home to look it up. Anyhow, I was happy I managed to climb all the way up and enjoy the view. We had to start heading back soon since it was getting dark. I was more afraid to go back because then I have to be looking down at all times. My boyfriend gave me some instructions on how to do it the best way and soon enough I was sliding from tree to tree without fear and was safely back on the ground.

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I guess it was good hiking practice for such a beginner like me. Who knows where else I will end up one day and its good to have a little experience.

Virgin Rock

Stories from my phone

Most of the times I share only photos made by my beautiful camera. Sometimes I have to settle with my phone because the camera is too heavy to carry around on every occasion. I realised I have made quite a lot of photos with my phone but never told the stories behind them. So here we go!

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Friday night art exhibition

One Friday night, after a couple of drinks I ended up at an art exhibition. I was sitting at the main square having some drinks when suddenly somebody from the group announced that there is an open exhibition at the old cinema. Not having much to do anyways there was no question if to go and visit it. I never learned the artists’ name. I know only that he was local and that he liked to capture different moments and people in Romania.

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The exhibition was held in an old cinema. The building itself was already an artwork. Even though decomposed and looking abandoned, the place was awesome. You could smell the history. Looks like it used to be a cinema only for posh and upper-class people. Any architecture fanatic would be amazed.

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Grapes and wine

As I have mentioned before, the wine making season has started. I was kind of hoping I will be spending one-day murdering grapes with my feet. Unfortunately, that was not the case and modern times have brought machines to do the work for you. So Instead I spent one Sunday morning picking grapes at a vineyard located right next to a graveyard. It was strange that we had to pass a graveyard to reach the grapes but once you were there, grapes were all you can see. We filled a whole horse carriage with grapes to make wine and juice. Juice was ready shortly but making wine takes some time. So there is nothing left to do but impatiently wait for the wine.

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Food discovery

Eating chestnuts is a new discovery for me. All we do with chestnuts in my country is craft some animals out of them. I found out that there are different types of chestnuts, the edible and non-edible ones. My country was a little unlucky and can only do some handicraft while here in Romania you can use them as a delicious snack. You can boil or roast them. The taste is kind of confusing actually. It is like a mix of nuts and mashed potatoes added with a sweet aftertaste. Nevertheless, they are tasty and eating one will create a chain reaction and you just keep eating more and more.

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Autumn in Baia Mare

Another day I ended up in a cabin a little outside the city. A party was held there and the best part of it was when it was finished and we had to leave. It was not because the party was really awful or something, but the autumny nature in the morning really took our breath away. Surrounded by colourful mountains and trees. We took a walk at first to a nearby restaurant but afterwards we had to take a taxi since the road home was too long. If only I had some energy and power to walk ten more kilometres because the sights kept getting better. I hope I can go back before the leaves completely fall off …

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Pictures of Baia Mare

I realised I have not even talked much about the city itself or shown any pictures where I am. So where the hell am I ? MAP

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The city

Baia Mare is a smaller scale city in Romania. Its population is around 100 000 similarly to my hometown Tartu. I must have already mentioned that there are mountains everywhere unlike in my hometown, which is completely flat. On the other hand, I would say it is less developed and offers fewer places to go out, has fewer shopping malls (one big one actually), smaller fitness centres and less other leisure time activities. But if you think about it, my home city is the second biggest city in Estonia, when Baia Mare is still a very small city in Romania. In that sense, I cannot compare the two cities because the countries are too different by the size. Smaller cities in Estonia have even less to offer. I have not seen the bigger cities or the capital of Romania yet but I know already it will be pretty huge for me.

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Baia Mare

Gypsies

There are quite a lot of gypsies in the city.  I feel like gypsies have created a lot of negative image for the country, but it must be understood that gypsies and Romanians are completely different people. And gypsies do not determine the image of Romanians. People tend to forget that and only know about the gypsies and Dracula. In reality, there is much more to it. The food, the people, their music and even their alcohol- all offer a new cultural experience. And of course, there are many beautiful sights in the country that I have not discovered myself yet.

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Baia Mare

Mining

Baia Mare is historically very important mining centre, where they used to mine gold, silver and many other metals. The mining industry has diminished for today and I guess people have moved on to work for various enterprises. There was a huge accident back in the days regarding mining. A dam at the processing plant broke and 70 tonnes of toxic chemicals and metal found access to the Tizsa river. It killed many fish, even lead  some species to extention, killed many birds and affected also the neighboring countries. Apparently it is Europes worst ecological disaster after Chernobyl. No wonder mining has diminished.

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Baia Mare

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It is interesting to observe the different culture here in a small city. There are so many small differences that you usually don’t think about. For instance, it is even exotic for me that they have so many grapes growing everywhere and they make a lot of wine, while my granny makes apple jam at home since our garden is flooded by apples. Somebody’s everyday life can be an excitement for others.

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Living the life in Baia Mare

As somebody who likes to work out, when travelling you might have some challenges finding the perfect place. Unless you are a runner and streets and roads exists where you are or prefer to work out at home. I like to attend some fitness classes and thus I went to seek one.

I found a nice one online, which also was the furthest from my house but still wanted to give it a try. My boyfriend was forced to take me there to check me in at the reception for the pilates class. In Baia Mare so far people’s knowledge of English is 50/50, except the younger generation seems to know it better. After my boyfriend helped me to register and told me where exactly I need to go, I also found out that the first class is free, woohoo.

There I went, up the stairs, and then suddenly realised I have no idea which one is the ladies changing room. If there even is a ladies one, maybe they are unisex? I already learned during my first day how male and female in Romanian is because no toilet here has a universal picture to guide tourist where to pee. Anyhow, those changing rooms did not have the same words that I already had learned. I started to wonder if there are  five different ways to say female and male like they have hundred different ways to say hi and bye here. Nobody was going in or out of those doors either, so I just had to take a chance and luckily succeeded.

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The class started and the teacher noticed I am new. She approached me and I announced that I don’t really speak Romanian. Luckily she spoke English and there was even another expat in the class from Canada, who already knew Romanian though.  The funniest thing I noticed during the class was that people are very chatty and making jokes. People in Amsterdam are quiet and hundred percent focused on the exercises. Again a moment you notice you moved closer to the equator.

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There are some tiny things you realise only when travelling. Especially when you don’t take a resort holiday but try to integrate into the local community. Sometimes things turn out to be a little bit hassle and other times a positive surprise.

I’ve started now wondering and pondering how to do this “achieve your dreams” thing. I’ve read tonnes of blogs already from people who just keep travelling, but sometimes I feel a little scared that what if it does not work out? Never mind, I’ll keep my chin up. At the moment being jobless I explored the magical internet and found a way to teach English online. This is mostly for little bonus money not really for earning and saving big bucks. Better than being a jobless couch potato, right?

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During the weekend there was a big Chestnut festival here in the city. There were stalls of food, drinks and chestnuts everywhere. I had never eaten a chestnut before. To me, it tasted something between a nut and a smashed potato.

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Another discovery I made so far is that every damn body seems to have homemade wine here. I have already experienced that home made is much stronger than the shop wine, but you will only realise it the next day. You will try to remember this fact, but forget it immediately when somebody offers you a glass.

Maybe I will be able to do some wine myself too. I’ll let you know!

 

First impressions of Baia Mare, Romania

One day I decided to pack everything I have, leave Netherlands forever (?) and move into a small city in Romania, Baia Mare. I was excited and scared both, reliving my emotions when I came to Amsterdam for the first time without knowing much about the country or knowing any people there. This time, I did know at least two people, so in a way, it was easier. On the other hand, the future is more unsure than before, because moving to Amsterdam assured me a secure life at least for four years till I finish University.

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My trip to Baia Mare was exhausting and took more than fourteen hours in total due to all the stopovers. I arrived early in the morning and my boyfriend’s mom was welcoming me. We ate a snack and went straight to bed. My boyfriend was arriving a few days later.

The first day the weather made me already very happy, as it was 30 degrees outside and sun shining brightly. I have been here for almost a week and have an impression of the city.

Local people

When I arrived, apparently it was a celebration for Saint Mary  and everybody were at the church and outside celebrating. My boyfriend’s mom took me to a market and then we were invited to eat together with their neighbours at a countryside. The people are very sweet and welcoming. You can feel that you have moved closer to the equator when people warmly welcome strangers in their home, offer them food and drinks generously. Also, people are more warm with each other compared to the people closer to the north pole.

Palincă – to burn your insides.

People offered me palincă right away and let me smell it. Palincă is a strong  liqueur, which no matter how hard I tried, I was not able to pour down my throat. It burns and has a pretty awful taste. Has a killer smell too. Nevertheless, please do try it when you visit Romania. I am not a fan of strong liquor anyway, so you might handle it. The locals don’t make a different face after taking a shot of it, while I already shrivel from the smell of it.

Language

People tend to speak with me in Romanian, even if i don’t know the language. Luckily, I do understand a little due to my background of knowing molto poco Italian. Romanian also falls under the latin languages and knowing anything from Italian, French or Spanish makes it easier to understand. Nevertheless, most of the time I am lost and just going along without being able to join the conversation. I already accepted this before coming here, because this is what happens when you are the odd one out and being rather shy. On the plus side, who knows maybe I will leave having learned a new language. And it’s been only a week. Maybe after a couple of palincăs, the language won’t be a problem.

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Food

When in Amsterdam I did not get enough meat, here meat is all I see. The variety of meat is humongous.  I would consider the food to be a bit on the heavy side, but there are a lot of tasty things. I feel like it would be tough to be a vegetarian here.

So far I have not had any surprises with food, especially because I have already tasted some of it beforehand thanks to my boyfriend. One thing I do not really like is eating pure fat. I remember my grandfather used to eat also pieces of fried fat when I was little and already then I did not like it. My taste buds still say it is not fine.

Because it is in Europe, the milk, dairy products and chocolate are still the same unlike my experience with dairy products in Bali. Only the tap water tastes different. It is not actually advised to drink it , but i have my super bobble bottle with me with a filter inside. On the streets, you can also find drinking water points.

Scenery

Baia Mare is surrounded by mountains. It is really beautiful when you look around you. The only thing is that it is missing is the sea. In that case, it would score 10 out of 10. The mountains, though, are not very populated and people live under on a flatter ground. Thus driving here is not so crazy either, like in Greece for example. The mountains are mostly to decorate the city.

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Channel for national music

I have not noticed this in other countries before, but here in Romania, they have one channel just for national music. A local told me that it is music for drinking and having fun without any politics. All day long you see music videos of Romanians in national clothes singing. Once in a while, they stop the music and one person is sitting behind a desk answering calls from people. I find it a little funny.

 

So far I have enjoyed my time here being properly spoiled. I am allowed to eat and drink as much as I want and have been enjoying time by the pool like on a decent vacation. Let’s see what more Romania has in store…

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Estonian bog hike

Seems like every summer one some attraction becomes very popular in Estonia and every single person has to go there. Last summer Rummu, the Soviet time prison turned into a beach, was the must see place. Because I am rarely home, I feel like I should follow the trends. What else have I going on at home anyway?

This summer my Facebook feed was full of pictures of bog hikes. I and my mom were planning to go to a spa, so I cleverly added a nearby bog into our route. We went to Meenikunno bog.

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From the looks of it, it does not appear very interesting. Some flat land with a path in the middle. Actually, the whole landscape is very mushy and you cannot walk on most spots because you will sink in deep and it is hard to get out. And no one knows where the bottom in all that flora and water is. Due to that, you need either a guide or somebody strong to pull you out, if you would like to jump into that mess.

 

Later on, the trail in the bog ended and another one started in the forest. We decided to continue, even though it will be a very long walk. The walk in the forest was much fun because the trail was rather challenging. There were spots under water or very muddy and it was difficult to cross them.  Some rocks or thin, about to break, logs were only helping you. There was quite a lot of climbing to do and the land was not very solid and reliable either. Often I stepped on a spot, sunk in  and felt the water flowing into my sneakers. As a result, my legs got very tired and wet, but we had a lot of fun. After all that, the spa was the best idea.

 

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Traditionally we went slightly off the trail and added some extra kilometres to our hike. Thanks to our smartphones we found a way back to our car.

I recently watched an Estonian comedy about going mushroom picking. The main characters got lost in the forest. It was funny in the movie, but in real life, it can be scary as hell. The forests in my country are very thick, unlike the Dutch call three trees together a forest.  The trees are long and don’t let much sun in and you can easily lose a sense of direction. Everywhere you look the sight is the same. Trees, trees and trees. Maybe the road was that way?

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Now I’m all caught up with Estonian life and I am probably ready to go discover Romania. Probably because it will poke my comfort zone going to an unknown country again. The weather forecast made me already happy announcing that the whole week will be sunny with thirty degrees outside. Finally summer !

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Tallinn

And once again I arrived home.

 

Before starting my adventurous life I definitely wanted to go home first to see my friends and family. This time, I had to pack everything with me since I was permanently moving out of Amsterdam. Ooh, how I hate moving. You will find out how many useless things you have collected over the years. I donated and sold a bunch of things before moving out and still I had too many things.

 

When I went to Schiphol airport to catch my flight to Estonia, I looked ridiculous. First let me mention that against the odds on that day in both cities, in Amsterdam and Tallinn, the weather decided to be fabulously hot with 30 degrees outside. Seeing that I had too many things that did not fit into my luggage I was forced to wear my spring/autumn jacket, my summer jacket, my favourite super warm sweater and my floppy hat.

Like this, I was walking around with my check in luggage, my hundred kilos weighing backpack and my purse. I looked so stupid that at the security gate for the first time I had to unpack literally everything from my bags. They checked even inside my wallet, my medicine bag and other smaller places. The security guy asked me to take out my camera. Then I announced that I have even two of them he labelled me as the rich bitch. I doubt that rich people travel looking, such hobos like I did.

 

Before going back to my city I had some time to stroll around in the capital. I managed to look like a complete idiot tourist in my own home country. The pilot told us on the aeroplane that it is 16 degrees in Tallinn, thus I left only one of my jackets at the airport lockers and kept all the rest with me. Later I discovered that it is nearly 30 degrees.

Walking around with a big camera and a backpack some Estonians approached me in English. That moment I realised that I look like a complete tourist. One famous Estonian singer even came to me to let me know that my jacket was falling off… in English. I guess I have been away for a very long time!

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On full tourist mode, I also took some pictures of the city. I noticed that it has become much popular internationally than it used to be. Most of the time I was walking around in the old town. I like how medieval it looks. The city organises some matching performance for tourists as well. One completely covered guy with a whip was managing another boy who was dragging a carriage where a “slave girl” was tied to. It was funny and strange combined and to see all the looks on the tourists face when they saw such a random thing.

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After getting a proper dosage of medievalness, I finally met up with my mother. We were both starving so we run to a restaurant and enjoyed a fabulous dinner. Then the two-hour-long ride to my hometown could begin…

Overdose of windmills- Zaanse Schans

Before leaving the Netherlands, there was another must see attraction I needed to check off my list. That was the cute little windmill village Zaanse Schans.

If the weather would have been beautiful on the day we went there, we would have seen views like this :

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Unfortunately, on the day we made the trip it was pouring rain non-stop. I just wanted to show off some of my new photoshop skills and pretend it was sunny. I’m still going to be honest with you and keep the rest of the photos cloudy as it was. You can’t control the weather when you travel and you should not let the weather control your trip either. Sometimes cloudy and rainy pictures can turn out even nice and add a little mysterious tone on them. And you still leave with a new experience.

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Despite the weather, there were very many people at the site. The restaurant had a half an hour waiting list and when taking pictures, constantly people photobombed them.

The village was so cute! I cannot understand how some people live there surrounded by windmills and loads of tourists passing by every day.  I would be very annoyed actually. It is very beautiful but full of tourists passing by your house and taking pictures of it. If you want to go for a walk or for a run it is never peaceful.

All the windmills have a different labour purpose.  The whole area smelled like chocolate due to the chocolate factory and museum there. The village had tiny shops to sell cheese, chocolate or souvenirs and as a must, you can get your fresh share of waffles.

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There is no entrance fee to go and walk around, but to visit the museums and the windmills you need to pay a small price. You can enter all the windmills and in some you can visit the top too, on others, you can visit its museum inside and learn about its purpose and history and how it was made.

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I would have definitely loved it more when it would have been sunny. It would have been nice to sit on the grass and have a little picnic. It was still worth a visit and I would definitely recommend it when you visit Amsterdam. You can take a bus there from central station, which takes you there only in twenty minutes and was slightly cheaper than other options.

That was my last attraction in the Netherlands. Who knows when or if I will ever go back ?

Let the new adventures begin!

Utrecht

Utrecht

I have visited Utrecht before, but never as a traveller only for business or school. I have seen the city only briefly, but never discovered it. My friends came to visit me in Amsterdam and this was a perfect chance to take a  one day trip to Utrecht.

To get out of Utrecht central station is a challenge. You walk thousands of kilometres before you find your way out to the centre. After you pass through the train and tram platforms the rows of shops start and never end. I guess that’s why people suggest doing some shopping in Utrecht because you have never-ending choices of shops before you even get to the city. Then there are a lot more shops in the city centre.

When you finally get out of the station, the city does remind you a lot of Amsterdam, but slightly smaller and slightly less crowded. You have a very similar view on the canals and houses, but it looks tidier.

Dom Tower

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The first thing we did was visiting the Dom Tower. This is the highest church tower in the whole country, with the height of 112,5 meters. You have to climb 465 steps to reach the top. I don’t know how the tour guides manage to make excursions there every day. It is not possible to go wander in the tower by oneself, by the way. You need to purchase a guided tour.

Climbing the stairs was fine at first, because we made many stops during our way to see the towers bells, listen them and also hear about the history of the tower.

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Almost at the top of the tower, climbing turned into a nightmare. I have a certain level of fear of heights. When there is nothing protecting me or nothing to hold on to I get scared. I was fine flying high up behind a boat in Thailand because I was attached to the boat with all the straps and I had a life vest. I could also be thousands of meters above the ground on a viewing platform if i can hold on to something, there are safety rails and other protective thingies. But when I was climbing the slippery, narrow stairs that never seemed to end with nothing to hold on, my feet instantly started shaking and I was not sure if I will faint, puke or just cry. So with people, who have similar fears, I would not recommend to going the highest floor. The view on the floor below was already beautiful enough and actually the top floor was covered with a net (as seen on the third picture) so you could not really enjoy the view.

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Canal tour

We also went on a canal cruise in Utrecht. I would say Amsterdam offers better cruises. There is more to see and well, our guide was awfully boring. The lady showered us with facts of how many bridges we already passed, what each building was and when it was built and used a very monotonic tone. No stories, not really interactive nor enthusiastic. It is good if you are really tired and could use a little nap.

The city

The rest of the pictures are of the city itself. It’s much cuter and cleaner than Amsterdam for sure, but I would say it is less lively. There is more to do in Amsterdam.

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We came across mysterious steam coming out from the street. I never really found out what is it for or what does it mean.

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There is a little tunnel that presents a play of colorful lights. When you walk around in Utrecht, I am pretty sure you will stumble on it. The tunnel takes you to an on the canal cafe. We thought we take a quick coffee there before our canal tour, but they never served us. So we just took advantage of their bathroom and went off to our canal tour.

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Utrecht is a nice place to visit when you want to get a little break from Amsterdam. It is especially nice when you like shopping and museums, there is plenty of that. Altough we went to eat at all you can eat sushi place, it is nice to eat at one of the restaurants that lies exactly on the canals. In Amsterdam you don’t have that option.

Must see before leaving the Netherlands : Utrecht ✓