When I was here in the wintertime, the canals were pretty dead. Now that the weather has improved, it seems all the life in the city has moved down to the canals.
In the February cold, the Oudegracht was still and quiet, but now it is bustling with all sorts of boats – a group of college students moseying along in a pedal boat; a family spending an afternoon out on their dingy with the Dutch flag hanging off the back; a young boy speeding past in a motor boat; a group of revellers with music and hors d’oeuvres on a party boat for hire. The canal is as busy a thoroughfare as the road!
The side walk that runs alongside the canal at water level (which is unique to Utrecht’s canals) is equally busy. In the city centre, it’s full of terraces packed with people eating and drinking at the numerous canal-side restaurants and bars; in the residential areas, it’s lined with families who have moved their dinner tables outside to eat. The canals have becoming the beating heart of the city.