Video Commentary: Utrecht, the Student City

My first ever travel vlog, primarily taking place in Utrecht.

0:00: Well, technically, my first ever travel vlog takes place in France, in 2012. I intended to upload consistently after the France vlog. I didn’t. Mainly because I broke up with my French ex, spent two years with a German girl and three weeks with a Spanish girl, then realized I should probably take a break for a while. This opening is something of a foreshadowing, really. Because I tried again to become a regular uploader, and full-time work took up precedence. One day.

0:12: Neither Almere nor the land it sits upon existed until a few decades ago. Wikipedia.

0:19: Document Your Life videos follow the format of muted clips with (often blissfully chill) music laid over the top — sometimes with outtakes hidden after the outro, original audio included. Lauren’s Document Your Channel is the original, and you can see other people’s DYLs on a dedicated Tumblr.

0:48: That song is the instrumental of Plant Life by Owl City.

📍 1:00: Utrecht Centraal

1:29: Sadly, mathijsmusic.com is not a real website. But you’re most welcome to buy that domain, and I’ll link it right here. Whatever you direct the domain to, there’ll always be a link to it right here on my site. Just don’t link it to a RickRoll. You’re better than that.

1:32: The most awkward instance of ‘filling in something I didn’t shoot footage for’ ever.

📍 1:58: Boekspot Hoog Catherijne

📍 2:11: Jamin

2:27: It sort of looks like I‘m saying the ‘woah!’ in Candy Shop. I have no idea whether people notice this.

2:29: “Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in The Netherlands. It dates back to the Roman Age.”

📍 2:54: Domtoren

If you want to see Utrecht from above, you should totally climb the Domtoren. There are 465 steps to an altitude of 112 meters. Use your glutes! (Disclaimer: I’ve yet to climb it.)

The bell tower still works. Great starting point for an exploration of the center of Utrecht, or a great place to meet up with people, because you can see it from anywhere in the city.

2:56: Quick Google searches don’t bring up much about the student death, happiness being banned, or the obscure sport — it’s probably niche information that’s mostly available in Dutch, so you’re gonna have to take my word for all this stuff. Mathijs knows his shit.

📍 4:08: Hollandic Water Line

Honestly one of the coolest lesser-known things about The Netherlands — an entire defence system based on flooding low-lying areas. Many of the forts along the Hollandic Water Line are still intact. There are even tours, on foot and on bike, along the defence system. Some forts house cyclists and hikers overnight, and in 2010, a walkway was cut thru one of the bunkers, turning it into a publicly-accessible historic exhibit.

Hopefully, the whole thing will get UNESCO heritage listing.

4:28: ‘Delete Piet Niet!’ Sinterklaas is basically Dutch Santa Claus. But he does things a lil differently. He arrives from Spain on a steamboat in the middle of November, welcomed by hundreds of thousands of people, leading a parade that gets broadcast nationally, and then he spends a few weeks visiting schools and shit, and then, a few days into December, he gives the good kids gifts and leaves coal for the bad ones. It’s fucking brilliant. What’s less brilliant, though, is that his assistant Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) wears blackface. It’s a hot debate which you should read more about here.

📍 4:56: Ganzenmarkt Tunnel

This tunnel leads from the Ganzenmarkt plaza to the Oudegracht (‘Old Canal’) wharves. Horse carts once rode thru this passage to the docks, where cargo was loaded and unloaded using the city’s crane. Now it ignites in a spectrum of colors as part of the Trajectum Lumen light exhibitions all over Utrecht.

5:25: Exploding Kittens is a great card game which you should own.

5:50: That’s Johanna, Utrecht’s newest student block at the time of writing. The individual tiles on the building are actually blue, and in the right conditions, Johanna does look blue. But the varying shades of blue merge together and create a purple sheen a lot of the time — the intended mix of blue and white is supposed to represent cloudy blue skies. Here is a cool video of her construction:

6:32: Before I went vegetarian.

7:03: A small handful of people have pointed out to me that the slight shake of the MacBook makes it look like I’m whomping the willow. Do with that observation what you will.

TravelJeeves Williams