On Monday 18th the Activity Committee of ESN organised the second edition of a quite peculiar event, the Forest Games. As the name may unsurprisingly suggests, this activity involved a series of games that took place in a wood just outside of Utrecht, with a bit of a thrilling ending.
Rather than giving you a faithful chronicle of the event (ah how boring for those who missed it!), I would use it as an idea for some activities you may want to do as well once you will reach this beautiful forest on your own in one of these still not-so-springy-spring evenings.
So grab your bikes and before the dusk (I would have said “twilight” but that darn franchise totally killed the word) start your trip from the Galgenwaard Stadion, southeast of the city centre. In case you were wondering, this field has a haunted past, and the name of the stadium itself – literally Gallows-holm – is a macabre reminder of what used to happen on its site. Until the XVII century in facts, it was here, on an islet surrounded by the Kromme Rijn river, just outside the city boundaries, where the prisoners sentenced to death were hanged.
And it’s precisely following the path of the Kromme Rijn upstream towards Bunnik, or more comfortably along the Koningsweg and then turning left at the Koningslaan, that you will reach the quite pleasant estate of Amelisweerd. Once more as the name suggests (yep, etymology is a useful discipline) on this “islet of Amelis” was a historic noble residence since the middle age. In 1808 was envisioned by Louis Napoleon as his royal country house, although he eventually slept there only 8 nights (you know, he normally used to live in the palace where you are probably studying right now, as you may read here). The mansion is nowadays called Oud-Amelisweerd, and it hosts a museum and an open for exhibitions space.
Once you pass the mansion, turn again left and, after you will pass a short path of broken columns capitals, you will find yourself in an open field with only four standing trees in the middle.
Now cross the little bridge on your right, and there you have it: you will be in the so-called “Engelse Werk” (English work) of the mansion! A water-encircled small forest full of suggestive paths, either romantic with the sun high filtering through the foliage, or incredibly spooky at nightfall. In both situations, I highly reccomend you to pay a visit.
And not just for the atmosphere: you may want to reward yourself with a coffee at the café located in the old carriage house next to the mansion, or perhaps even continue your path eastward until you reach the nice pancake house at Rhijnauwen.
Sure, as long as you survive the encounters with mad clowns ran away from a circus!