Canalside Ambience in Utrecht, Netherlands
Often likened to a quiet version of Amsterdam, Utrecht, much like the capital, offers a beguiling warren of canals. But it’s not much like Amsterdam at all. The streets are quaint and decidedly sober, coloured by baskets of flowers, green vines dangling amongst assorted floral palettes towards glittering canals inlaid with old trees. But stroll along the scenic loop of canals in Utrecht’s old town and you’ll notice they are aesthetically different to Amsterdam's, with striking double docks. One dock is level with the water forming a long terrace used for restaurants and bars, and another is level with the old warehouses above with a thin strip of road, a result of 12th-century cellars dug out towards the water.
Incidentally, these docks are where one finds most of Utrecht's visitors huddled into al fresco restaurants, unsteady chairs perched on the medieval canalside, a few inches from the water. It’s an intensely atmospheric locale once dusk falls, and the occasional boat lit by a lone lantern makes its way slowly between diners on either side of the canal.