Sunday, 25 November 2012

What Not to Wear

What to pack for living in Utrecht? In short, a little of everything. The weather is quite unpredictable. The whole country is quite flat and much of it is below sea level, with ever-present low, scudding clouds. You can have rain, sun, and icy, nearly gale-force winds. All in the same day. So, what to wear?

Layers. Unless you are staying close to home and can change every few hours, do not go out for the day dressed entirely for warm or cold weather. Even on the warmest day, the air temperature drops considerably when the sun ducks behind a cloud and a cold breeze comes out of nowhere. And even on the coldest day, the sun can peek out and add warmth to the moist air. Besides, you can get quite warm biking, and there is nothing worse than sweating under your clothes while your nose is frozen. So, dress like you are going through menopause; peel the layers off and then put them back on as both external and internal temperatures fluctuate!
Comfortable, sturdy footwear. Bear in mind that you will be walking or biking most of the time. What not to wear? Cobblestone and uneven bricked streets are hell on heels! Nothing like sashaying down the street in your favorite pair of strappy sandals, getting the heel caught in the brickwork, lurching awkwardly, and grabbing onto some hapless passerby. If you don’t break your ankle, you land on a most unforgiving surface. What to wear? Athletic shoes or dressy flat shoes. When it is cold, boots, and when it is really cold, Uggs (you can get cheap knock-offs at the open market). You can always bring your heels and change into them when you arrive at a more even-surfaced destination.
Jeans, tights, and leggings. Jeans of course are easy, stylish and thick enough to keep you warm. However, do bear in mind that they stay wet a VERY long time if you get caught in a downpour. Not recommended for biking in the rain, unless you bring along a spare, dry pair and have place to stash your now-sodden pair. What to wear? Lighter stretch jeans, and with dresses or skirts, tights or leggings. You can even get thermal leggings at the open market.
Accessories: Scarves, long scarves that you can drape in layers around your neck to keep out the cold. Just not so long that they get caught in the wheel of your bike. Awkward!  And gloves. LOTS of pairs, as they seem to have a high divorce rate. Half of each pair runs off to find itself, and you never do find it again.  
Lastly, don’t forget the most important accessory of all, an umbrella. Never leave home without at least a small fold-up umbrella tucked into your bag. It can rain at the drop of a hat. Sometimes just a light misty rain, sometimes bucket-loads, but it’s always handy to whip out an umbrella, even on a bike. Of course, if the rain is accompanied by those gale-force winds, that little umbrella will turn inside out to comical effect almost immediately, so bring LOTS of those, too. What to do with the broken ones? Perhaps there is a recycling bin for them. After all, this is the Netherlands!

1 comment:

  1. Linda, great blog. However, to this list I would add rain pants... then there is no need for toting around extra pairs of pants. They can be bought at HEMA and have saved me many times from sitting at work/class soaking wet! :)