The Dutch railway company was busy on the stretch of rail my trains need to bring me to Utrecht for its Early Music Festival. Fortunately, friends had warned me. So despite having overslept, I managed to reach the Fringe Festival Till in time, to get tickets for the fringe concerts I wanted to hear on the festival’s last day.
The next “problem” during the festival is, where to score a kick-start coffee. A few Dutch newspapers had made issues freely available to the public and artists who can read Dutch. But coffee and a seat are not included.
The café-restaurant inside Tivoli-Vredenburg, the festival’s building and “hub”, does not open till 10:00. With many of the sites where fringe concerts take place, scattered all over Utrecht and some a long saunter away, 10:00 can be “iffy”. I had already tried it out earlier during the festival week: if you order around 10:00 you are lucky if your coffee is served in time for you to drink it and walk to one of the nearby festival venues like the Mirliton theatre.
If you need to walk to the former fort and observatory Sonnenborgh from Tivoli-Vreedenburg (to take an example), you need to try and score your coffee somehwere on the go. On a Sunday, there are possibilities, but bank on most of Utrecht being still firmly asleep till well past 11:00.
But this last day of the festival, my first fringe concert would take place kind of round the corner from Tivoli-Vreedenburg, at the micro-brewery and canal café and small cinema “Oudaen”. Because of its micro brewery it is one of my favourite café’s in Utrecht.
The first fringe concert of the morning always starts at 11:00 – and due to the crowds these concerts attract – it is wise to start heading towards the venue and ensemble of your choice around 10:30. So I decided to have a look at the documentary on Boughton House in Tivoli-Vredenburg. Only to find out, it was not running.
The festival’s “Music Market” was starting up, with some people unpacking violins, cellos, viola da gambas, harps, lutes, and other fascinating instruments. A few were trying out their instruments. But this early music market would also open at 10:00. So a visit would have to be postphoned after all the fringe concerts had taken place, after 17:00.
There was nothing but to wait till “Het Gegeven Paard” would open, at 10:00. For my beloved Swedish conditorei was too far away from the venue with its limited number of seats. After half an hour, on the dot and chimes of 10 o’clock, the waitress of the given horse (as “Gegeven Paard” translates into English) arrived with a glass of hot water and let me choose a teabag to create a preferred blend.
During the festival, the café-restaurant is a favourite meeting place of early music nerds and all who frequent the festival. It is not just a convenient place to meet, but it is lovely to start the day, sitting in one of the easy chairs with a hot drink, paper, friendly staff to keep an eye on you. Prices for coffee and tea start at 2.50. But it is also possible to have a snack or eat at its restaurant.