Wine Tasting Travel Tips

Stadsschouwburg Bus Stop Pano
Today’s the day of the wine tasting, and if you’re coming in from out of town, the easiest way to get to the Café de Potdeksel if you’re coming in by train is to take the bus. You can take Bus 4 (destination Burg Fockema Andreaelaan), Bus 11 (destination Uithof UMC WKZ) or Bus 53 (destination Zeist) and get off at the Stadsschouwburg stop. It’s a short ride, only five minutes or so. You could walk (about a 15 minute walk or so), and see a bit of the city, but with the rain today, the bus may be the drier option.

In the photo above, the far right is where the bus stops for the Stadsschouwburg. Be careful crossing the street, since that section has seen a few accidents in the past months. In the middle is the Stadsschouwburg itself, and on the left, between the bicycles is Lucasbolwerk, the street you need to walk down. The Café de Potdeksel is at the end of the street. The main entrance is at the terrace end.
Our Local
If you click on either of the photos posted, they each have notes on them that may help clarify directions. We look forward to seeing those of you who are coming!

Wine Tasting/Wijnproeven

Wine Tasting/Wijnproeven
My boyfriend, who is from Italy, has recently begun a wine distribution business, offering Italian wines primarily from the Trentino region, along the Alps. The wines from this region are excellent and the wines he is offering are particularly good; they are well-balanced, with appealing floral and fruity flavors and aromas, without being over-the-top or in your face. They go well with a variety of foods, but also stand on their own as wines to sip and savor over good conversation.

To help spread the word, we are hosting a special wine tasting event on Sunday afternoon, 14 November, from 14:00 to 16:00, at the Café de Potdeksel (Lucasbolwerk 23) here in Utrecht. The event is free. All we ask in return is that you come with the name and address of your wine store(s) of choice (other than Gall & Gall), and maybe the names of a few restaurants you enjoy. In return for that little bit of information, you get to taste a variety of wines that run the gamut: white, rosé, red, sparkling, and dessert wines. You will also have the opportunity to order any of these wines at the wholesale price. There is a six-bottle minimum, but you can mix and match any combination you want. Prices start around €6.50, so six bottles isn’t much.

With the holidays coming up, you could always use this opportunity to buy some excellent wine to give as gifts or to serve at parties, or simply to enjoy yourself when all the holiday festivities get a bit much! The tasting will be a nice party in its own right, with snacks on hand to accompany the wines.

We would love to have anyone who enjoys wine to come to the event, even if you’re not living in Utrecht. We hope to expand to restaurants and wine stores in other cities, as well. Even if you’re not a fan of wine, if you know someone who is, please tell them about the event. The only thing I ask is that anyone planning on coming e-mail me or leave me a comment here so that we know how many people are coming. I hope some of you who read my blog will come along so that we can all meet face to face over a nice glass of wine! The event will be in English, but there will be Dutch friends attending who can help with any translation if necessary. Feel free to contact me with any questions you have. I will be more than happy to answer. I look forward to seeing you!

Six Degrees of Internet Separation

They Asked
Yesterday after the Netherlands’ match against Slovakia (we won 2-1), I was upstairs taking photos of some of the celebratory crowds out on the streets. As I was leaning out the window to get some shots, these two guys stopped and offered themselves for a quick photo shoot. (Honestly, all I heard was photo, so who knows what they said, but they posed anyway.)

Afterward, one of them did say something else, but I didn’t catch it and didn’t feel like doing the whole “I’m sorry, my Dutch is crap, do you speak English” thing, so I sort of shrugged and they moved on. Still, it would be nice to pass the photo on to them, so I figured I’d try to use the power of the internet and see if I can find someone who knows them or at least ask others to spread the word until someone does find one of them. I’ve tweeted the photo, I’ve added it to an Utrecht Flickr group, and now I’m blogging it. So, if you know someone in Utrecht, pass this along to them, retweet the post, do whatever. I’m curious if it’s possible to find at least one of these guys through a bit of internet word of mouth.

Viva Hollandia!

Today is the Netherlands’ first match of the World Cup. We’ll be playing against Denmark this afternoon. Seemingly half the country is either taking the day off work to watch the match, or they’ll be watching at work. Basically, if you’re trying to get in touch with anyone in the Netherlands today between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. CET, don’t bother. Sure, there are a handful of people not interested, but they probably won’t be able to hear past all the cheering and yelling anyway.

Viva Hollandia by Wolter Kroes is an older song, but it’s still gotten a lot of play recently. It’s timeless, I suppose! In fact, I could hear it being played somewhere last night as I was trying to go to sleep, so I ended up with the song in my head when I woke up this morning. I figured I might as well share it with you all. Most likely, we’ll hear it again today when we head to the Potdeksel to watch the game — if we get seats. The Potdeksel isn’t usually open on Mondays, but they’re opening early for today’s match. I think just about any bar and restaurant with a tv will be open today and showing the match. For those without access to a tv, but with internet, NOS, the Dutch channel showing the game, is going to be pumping out 120,000 live streams of the match. Internet might be a bit slow this afternoon as a result.

Let the real games begin! Wear some orange today and cheer on the Dutch team. Hup Holland Hup!

Click here if the embeded video doesn’t work or show up.

Nog Twee

Orlando and the wit biertje
Two years ago today I came to the Netherlands for the very first time — and haven’t left yet!

Our plane arrived early in the morning on May 28, 2008, and after a bit of confusion with the car rental and a short soak in the morning rain, we left Schipol and headed down to Utrecht. I had never been to The Netherlands before that day, other than a layover flying back from Italy to the US, and that time I never left Schipol. A bit mad, perhaps, to move to a country you’ve never even visited, but I do have my moments of madness. I trusted G, who had been here quite a few times for business and to find us a house. I’ve found that I’m generally pretty happy wherever I live, so I figured this wouldn’t be much different. Fortunately, I was right. I’ve been very happy here these past two years and don’t regret the move at all.

This photo of Orlando, my flamingo, was taken later that first afternoon when we went to the Café de Potdeksel for an afternoon drink on the terrace. G had learned about the café from the couple who sold us the house; they had taken him there after the house closing to celebrate and introduce him to the family that owns it. We were incredibly lucky to buy the house from such a kind and friendly couple; their friendship and help has made our transition here much smoother and happier. They’ve also introduced us to some of their other friends, helping to expand our little social network. We’ll be seeing some of them tonight at the Potdeksel and I’m looking forward to it as always.

Thanks to this blog, I’ve also made some friends of my own this past year, as I’ve gotten to know some other fellow expats. I’m even meeting up with a few tomorrow night for drinks; keep your fingers crossed that the rain holds off tomorrow night!

Have the past two years been nothing but sunshine and roses? Of course not, but that’s just life. Nowhere is perfect, but in general the good has outweighed the bad and I’m very happy here, content to stay for many more years.

Café Culture

One of the great things about Utrecht is the range of cultural events going on around town. It’s not just standard events at the stadsschouwburg (city theater); it’s the monthly cultural Sunday events throughout town and the event that happened this weekend, the Café Theater Festival. From Friday through Sunday, at 20 cafés around town, short, half-hour plays were performed each night.

We were at the Potdeksel on Friday, of course, and got to see Falstaff maakt een Odyssee, a humorous telling of the story of Odysseus. It was in Dutch, but I got the gist of a lot of it. It was also a humorous retelling as they made the most of a few simple props and odds and ends in the bar itself. There were only two cast members and they worked their way through the bar to play the different parts. The Sirens were represented amusingly by a bit of pop music from the bar’s stereo system. Scylla was a group of flexible tubes located at one end of the bar, while Charybdis was a burst of steam from the coffee machine, located at the other end of the bar, with the one cast member running back and forth to represent each one, sometimes running fast and furious!

It was well done, at least from what I could understand, and I guess others agreed, since the play won the Publieksprijs (public prize). This annual festival is one of those smaller events that makes the city so great.