Postcard from Zutphen

A Monday in the Netherlands where your comrades abandon you and you travel to a random town without a map, objective or enough woolly layers.

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Another amusing peculiarity of the Dutch train system is the platform ticket scanner. It tells you to ‘In-en uitcheckin’ with your card, which has an uncanny Scottishness about it, with the ‘uit’ pronounced ‘oot’ or ‘üt”, just like how some Scotties pronounce the world ‘out’. No matter how many times we passed a ticket scanner or door sign that said ‘uitgang’, we would always chuckle excessively.

“Oot we go!”

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A Monday here is frighteningly beautifully still. Museums are shut and the town centre is sleeping. Beyond the rusty-red walls, you find a spectacular view of the town’s ancient foundations and structures, a mighty fortress and a moat among them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something that could remind me more of a fairy castle, in such silent and intact form, without superfluous elements such as modern infrastructure and installations, or people even.

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Then a surprise burst of energy came from a group of teenagers on bikes playing dub-step on full blast from speakers carried in a pannier bag.

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With no guide to show me the highlights of the town, I followed my cultural instinct and gravitated naturally to the highest points on the skyline: the churches. But like the museums, they were all closed. Except for this gem of a church that had been converted into a public library.

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I’ve got one more postcard to send to you from the Netherlands! But for now I need to get back to violin practice and delicious French reading.

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