The Best Spots to Hit When Visiting Utrecht

One of Morgan’s paintings depicts a street scene from Utrecht, Netherlands

A day trip from Amsterdam and Den Haag, Utrecht, Netherlands has an amazing flower market, a bar in a converted church, a nearby national park and other don’t-miss spots.

The gorgeous fall foliage along the edge of the canal in Utrecht, Netherlands

Morgan always has a smile on her face and an amazing sense of style. Heck, she rocked a side ponytail before it was on trend.

I’ve lived vicariously through her artistic endeavors via social media (and exchanged several Cats of Instagram videos).

No one believes me when I say this, but the Dutch live and die for fried food.

Morgan’s lovely studio in her Utrecht apartment

Sensing a kindred spirit, I couldn’t resist checking in and finding out more about her expat experience in Utrecht Netherlands, where she and her boyfriend moved in early 2015.


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Utrecht is a day trip destination from Amsterdam and Den Haag

How did you and Matt end up in Utrecht?

Matt’s company gave him the opportunity to open their European office, and we were allowed to pick where that office would be. So we spent two weeks traveling to four different countries to see if they felt like a place we could make a home.

After much deliberation, we decided on Belgium! But after telling everyone in our families the big plan, we ended up not able to get a visa for me there.

So next best thing: the Netherlands! Except we had visited Amsterdam during our tour — and hated it. It felt like Chicago’s Navy Pier during the 4th of July.

In typical Morgan and Matt fashion, we decided on Utrecht without having been there, without knowing a soul here, without performing any sort of research. And just jumped in!

The Janskerkhof flower market is the best part about Utrecht, according to Morgan

What do you like best about Utrecht?

I’m absolutely in love with the Saturday flower market at Janskerkhof!


What do you like least?

It annoys me to no end that the stores close at 5 p.m. every day of the week and are completely closed on Mondays. But we’re coming from Chicago, where we did our grocery shopping at 10:30 at night. We know we need to adjust.


Tell us about a strange custom you’ve encountered while living there.

When Dutch people greet you as a friend, they kiss you on your right cheek, left cheek and again on the right cheek. That third kiss was very unexpected at the beginning and resulted in a few misplanted kisses.


What are your favorite day trips from Utrecht?

Now that we’ve been here for a while, Amsterdam has definitely grown on us. In fact, we head into Amsterdam almost every weekend and dream about buying a house there! Other favorite day trips are Den Haag for the beach and the museums, Otterlo to bike through a national park, and Maastricht, where they have their own dialect.


What are your favorite places in town?

Margaret Wines is our absolute favorite wine shop in the world! We also love Cafe Olivier — a converted church now functioning as a Belgian beer bar! Our go-to bakery is Bond & Smolders.


What’s the local cuisine like?

No one believes me when I say this, but the Dutch live and die for fried food. And their mayonnaise! Other, more traditional foods, are herring and stamppot [mashed potatoes mixed with other veggies].

Morgan and her boyfriend moved to Utrecht on a whim

Flowers are a source of inspiration for Morgan

What got you into painting?

I’ve been painting ever since I can remember. I used to color pictures of myself living in Paris as a painter when I was a little kid (I’m a dreamer!). I studied painting at the College of Charleston in South Carolina and again at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for a prior degree program.


Morgan paints en plein air in Monet’s garden at Giverny

Could you describe your process?

My process is actually something I’m really working on changing right now. Before, I would set up a still life, paint a ground color in acrylic paint, and paint a traditional, realistic still life. Right now I’m working on a more abstract series about change. I still paint a colorful ground, but instead of working out the composition before painting, I jump right in and concentrate on making interesting brush strokes and creating a composition of areas of color. I’m very excited about where this series is going!


You can find more of Morgan’s artwork on her site, ReSource Designs. –Duke

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