On Sunday 14 April, Cultural Sundays arrives in Utrecht-West, but this part of town is worth a visit on other days too. So jump onto a bike and ‘go west’!
The west of Utrecht covers quite a big area. We’ve selected a few highlights so that you’re not on your bike all day. The route starts on Westplein, where you bike into Kanaalstraat with the Ulu mosque on your right. This lively street with its delis, bakeries and local shops is the beating heart of the multi-culti district Lombok. Our first destination is Kopi Susu, on the corner of Kanaalstraat and J.P. Coenstraat. If you need a break, just wander into the café. It’s a real local meeting place where they serve coffee with Indonesian spekkoek, and host a range of cultural activities such as exhibitions, live music and free workshops.
Continue biking along Kanaalstraat. After the bridge, the road turns into Laan van Nieuw Guinea. Turn left onto Groeneweg and cross the water (with a few bends). You’ll now see a fine example of industrial heritage that has been given a new lease of life. From 1908 until the start of this century, the Cereol factory was used to extract oil first from linseed and then from soy. It is now home to a theatre, library and restaurant known as Buurten in de Fabriek, a popular spot among locals. If you fancy a change, take a walk through the green Park Oog in Al, where you’ll find an enclosure with deer. And the old country house close to the banks of the Leidsche Rijn is a great place for a breather. It’s called Landhuis in de Stad.
Time to get back on your bike; we’ve still got a long way to go! Bike onto Kanaalweg, keeping the water to your right. The route takes you past houseboats in all shapes and sizes. When you see a large bridge, turn right across it and continue along Spinozaweg, Thomas à Kempisweg and Cartesiusweg. You are now in the Werkspoorkwartier, a part of town where new life has been breathed into numerous deserted factories and industrial sites. Visit De Nijverheid, for example, a ‘cultural haven’ with studios for local artists, an exhibition hall in a boat that used to house a brothel and a bar with a waterside terrace.
So how do you get back? We’ll come to that later. First, it’s time for a drink and something to eat. You might not think so, but there are plenty of places to eat in this part of town. The Oproer brew pub, for example. The range of beers on offer changes regularly so pop in and see what’s on draught this week. You can eat there too: the menu is fully vegan and organic and new dishes appear every month. A bit further on, you’ll find Werkspoorcafé De Leckere, which serves beers from another Utrecht brewery. This brew pub has an industrial look and sells its own ‘home brews’ as well as beers brewed by guest breweries. Treat yourself to a platter of assorted cheese, sausage and ham with your to drink, and if it’s nice outside, find yourself a table on the terrace on the banks of the Amsterdam-Rijn canal.
Music & film
But you still don’t have to go home yet. Check out the programme at dB’s pop podium for an evening of musical entertainment. Even if there’s nothing going on, you can still enjoy another beer here. The building, which used to be a bus repair garage belonging to the Dutch Railways, also houses the cosy Filmcafé. They screen art house films and film classics, as well as films that the proprietors think everyone should see at least once in their life. After the film, you can dance the night away to jazz, soul, funk, disco, rock & roll and hip-hop. Or if electronic music is more your thing, check out the agenda of WAS., a temporary club in the former staff washroom of a historic factory that used to produce engines, steam machines and other types of rolling stock. But you’ll need to be lucky; the club’s not open every weekend.