Favourite spot

Aafke Romeijn: Kaffeetaria

Prominent Utrechters talking about their favourite spots in the city. This month: Aafke Romeijn, musician, writer and journalist in Kaffeetaria on Croeselaan.

So, Kaffeetaria?

‘It’s a few minutes by bike from where I live, close to Transwijk Park: a boring place where there’s nothing to do. So it was such a relief when Kaffeetaria opened its doors here a year ago. I bike past it every morning when I take my daughter to school, and I drop in a couple of times a week for their delicious coffee – cappuccino with oat milk. While I’m there, I grab a sourdough loaf from the Utrecht bakery Lavett. The place has a good vibe; they’ve always got customers, but it’s never too busy. I also like the way that Kaffeetaria has become a place for locals. The coffee bars nearer to the station are full of tailor-made suits from the Rabobank.’

Biggest letdown?

‘I’m glad that the west side of the city is getting a facelift, but too much is being left to the project developers. The number of social houses in the new Beurskwartier neighbourhood, for example, has been halved. That really worries me as there’s already a shortage of rented social housing. Project developers are changing the plans along the way and the municipality, which has invested a lot of money in these projects – has no choice but to agree. I was a candidate at the bottom of the party list for the PvdA during the last elections, and I tried to draw attention to this. Politicians want to change things, but the project developers have ample resources and a long-term vision.’

Guilty pleasure?

‘In the winter, if the weather’s bad, I take my 7-year-old daughter Rudi to Adventurepark Play-in, a mega indoor playground in The Wall shopping centre. Parents sit around complaining about the screaming kids and lack of daylight and I sometimes join in. But secretly, I’m glad it’s there. Rudi’s old enough to play on her own now, so I sometimes take my laptop. I’m writing my third novel at the moment. I love writing, like I love playing music. I finished my new album in 2023, and it’s being released next September. The book will take longer – I’ve only just started it.’

Best memory?

‘When I was 16 and we still lived in Overasselt in Gelderland, I had a thing with my former boy-next-door, who’d moved into student digs on Ina Boudier-Bakkerlaan. I spent most weekends there. One winter’s day, I was walking to Utrecht Centraal Station via Nieuwegracht and was amazed at how close together everything in the city was: bars, cafés, cinemas, shops. So totally unlike Overasselt, which was a tiny village in beautiful surroundings, but as a teenager, completely dead. Not long afterwards, I started studying in Utrecht myself. To show willing, I looked at other universities, but I always knew I’d choose Utrecht.’

Last thing you saw/heard?

‘The English band Stereolab at Le Guess Who? They make slightly strange, avantgarde-like soundscapes instead of nicely composed songs with verses and a refrain. Usually when I listen to music, I can’t help casting a professional eye over the songs, but this music really blows me away.’

Last thing that moved you?

‘Last year I was at the annual Freedom City Festival, which is all about the hip-hop dance scene. The festival is free and held at public venues right across the city. At one point, I found myself on Stadsplateau at an international krumping competition: a theatrical, acrobatic style of hip-hop dance. There were two Ukrainian girls, absolutely fabulous dancers, dancing their hearts out. What really moved me was the overwhelming support they were getting from within the international scene, even though they were total strangers. And I’m always moved by art in public spaces. It has a certain vulnerability, but if it works, it creates a very special atmosphere.’

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