Yesterday I was tidying the flat in Accra, taking out rubbish, packing bags for a work trip, while wondering what in earth the ants had gotten into this time. They show up now and then in the kitchen: after five weeks of truce, they were very excited about something invisible under the dish rack. I checked some storage boxes, just in case, and there were black specks crawling also there, in the rice. Arrrghhhh…. Rice weevils. Not great, but not a health hazard, so I sorted through 3 litres of rice by hand, and the rice is now in the freezer to kill the rest (and remaining eggs), reminding myself that insect protein is an upcoming protein source. Then I headed to Kotoka International Airport for the overnight KLM flight to Amsterdam. The new terminal there is not open yet, but it looks quite fancy, we are curious about that.
After a sleepless night of flying (Black Panther, Lady Bird and more due to seatmate whose elbows were on the invasive side – great films though) I caught the train to Utrecht (9.80 euro, 30 minutes) and was fortunate enough to get a hotel room even at 830AM. It was 11C this morning, and I was so cold. No problem, I thought: “I’ll go look at central Utrecht, get breakfast, and buy trousers! This is Europe, it will be easy! Then I’ll get some sleep.” But no, most Utrecht shops open at noon on Sundays, so I ambled around until noon looking at Oudegracht (central canal), the DomTor (tower), the very empty streets, and the plethora of bicycles parked everywhere. It is a pretty place.
I had a nice cappuccino, was shocked over how many Pokestops Utrecht has (many parts of Accra are Pokedeserts), then finally found some trousers AND a Birkenstock shop with summer sales. My goodness, after having various sandals go moldy from Accra humidity and after taping my last Birkenstocks with duct tape to get a few more months use out of them: it was like Christmas. Now I have a backup, if the sadly fraying sandals I packed for the meeting tomorrow break beyond repair.
Yes, it was a bit surreal to see all the shops in Utrecht. By lunchtime the streets were buzzing with people, lots of outdoor restaurants. You might also bump into this:
Miffy! You might not be familiar with the Dutch rabbit Miffy, but the author and artist Dick Bruno was from Utrecht. I was a child in Holland in the last 1970s, so Miffy is very familiar. Here Miffy is again:
Now it is time to sort meeting files and check email before dinner with meeting organizers. Normally there is very little time to see local sights on work trips, so a Sunday morning peek at Utrecht was a treat.