Take the Long Way Home

Less Traffic
They really don’t want you to drive in the city center of Utrecht. Besides every road being a one way never in the direction you want to go, half the time you can only turn in one direction onto the next street, no matter that the traffic goes both ways on the street. And then there are the random streets that are just blocked off all together.

We went to deliver some wine to Casa di David today on the Oudegracht. I think we need to consider a boat for future deliveries. It’s got to be much easier in the long run. First of all, just getting there was a bit hit or miss in terms of legalities of how we got on each street. There might have been some turns and backing up that were a bit questionable. Then we had to wedge the car into a spot that just left enough room for other vehicles to pass, while we lugged six boxes of wine down some steep stairs. Have I mentioned that I get a bit nervous going down stairs and like to have something to hold on to? Yeah, that first trip with two boxes made me a bit nervous, to say the least.

Once we actually had the wine delivered, we then had to get back home. That’s when things got really interesting. We thought we were doing ok, until the road suddenly ended, with metal posts blocking the road. Midday on a Tuesday? Sure! Excellent time to close a road off to traffic. And no, it wasn’t for construction. It was just closed. So then we tried to turn left, across the canal. That didn’t go particularly well, as the continuation of the road was also closed. We could turn left again, taking us back down the canal, but there was a truck blocking the road, as five workers were involved in cutting loose broken/abandoned bikes from the railings.

Let me rant on a tangent here for a moment. I’m all for the removal of these abandoned bikes, and I’m all for people having work, but when they’re cutting money for the arts and cutting the amount of money to help immigrants with the required assimilation programs (especially when you’ve got people like Wilders in office who are so bothered by immigrants), it seems a bit excessive to have one person driving the truck, two people cutting lose the bikes and putting them on the truck, and two other people riding along on separate scooters writing down the info and tagging the bikes removed. I’m pretty sure that task could have been cut down to just three people. I don’t think it would take that much longer to do the job with fewer personnel. I could totally be wrong, but at first glance, it seems a bit excessive.

Anyway, it turns out we could have probably turned right, but that would have lead to more questionable areas, so we just ended up turning left once the truck moved on. Eventually the truck reached a spot where it could pull over and let the following traffic pass. But then we got to the end of the Oudegracht, thinking we could turn left onto the main road, but no! More metal poles blocking the way! We’d forgotten about that! So that’s when things got a bit iffy and turns were made that may be a bit grey in their legality, but eventually we made it onto the road we wanted. And then took the long way around — because it’s the only way around — to get back home, despite passing our street on the way.

Don’t get me wrong. As a frequent walker and a rare cyclist, I appreciate that they’ve limited the amount of driving that goes on in the city center. It certainly helps keep the city more attractive, as well. Up until the 1970s or so, there was a lot more parking, a lot more cars, and narrower sidewalks from what I’ve seen. It’s much nicer now and I appreciate it all. I’m just glad I’m not the one ever having to drive here, despite my friends’ encouragement! I told G we should get a good bakfiets for any future deliveries. It’s got to be easier in the long run. They even have “trailers” you can attach to your bike. Perfect!

10 thoughts on “Take the Long Way Home

  1. Yep, that is how it goes… there really is only one option, use this routeplanner: http://viewer.ltc.falk.nl/index.html?uid=utrecht#routeplanner
    Never trust any other. Never go into the city motorized and unprepared! (Note that there is a ‘return’ button, the way back is never the same as the way in…)

    And for your viewers not familiar with the Utrecht situation, this video might perhaps make things clear:

    lots and lots of those ‘terrible’ red and white bollards…

    • Another excellent video! Thanks for sharing. I know most of those spots very well — from seeing them on foot. Much nicer that way! And you’re right, the return route is never the same as the way you arrive when driving. We usually use the GPS when driving anywhere. Since we live in the city center, we obviously never drive here, except to go somewhere out of the city. I’ve bookmarked the routeplanner, in case we need to do similar deliveries in the future.

  2. Ah, yes, the joys of living in the city center. When people ask me for directions by car, I usually need a good moment to think, since I’m mostly on foot, by bike or public transport. And the constant changing of roads, oy!

    • I’m awful with directions anyway, because they’re usually something like turn right at that building that I used to go to with my friends, or that cute building with the slopey rooftop. I’m awful with street names. Add in that one long street here has about five different names … Oy, indeed!

  3. …And as for ranting about spending tax-payers money: here’s a good one I heard today as told by my cleaning lady. Her daughter and some friends had found a handbag at macdonalds. After looking inside to see if something might point to the owner they made a call to the number in the agenda they found. As there was no answer they left a message and took the bag home with them.
    The owner later called them up and was very thankful. She wanted to come and pick up the bag the next day, but didn’t show.
    At 23.45 my cleaning lady gets a call from the police. A report has been filed by the bag-owner and they are coming to pick up the bag. At 00:45 a police-car arrived at their door with their flashlights on and two cops burst into their house to get the bag. They check the content to see if nothing is stolen, some papers are signed and the cops leave. At 03:15 the cops call my cleaning lady to tell her it’s okay and nothing has been stolen.

    As it turned out the bag-owner heard the rather trashy accent of the daughters friend on the answering machine, came to the conclusion that these people are scary and possibly criminal and sends the police to do her work for her – – which they do in the middle of the night, apparently. Daughter and friends were summoned to the police-station the next day to receive a wise lesson: next time leave the bag with the macdonalds personnel. Lesson learned: next time don’t touch the bag.

    In Dutch we have an old saying: Ondank is des Werelds’ Loon.
    But at least we know how our taxes are spent.

    • Yikes! What a nightmare! Shame the woman couldn’t have just called back and asked them to drop the bag off at the police station. Someone does something that isn’t “asociaal” and they’re made to regret it. Such a shame!

      I think the English saying for this situation is: No good deed goes unpunished. 😉

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