zephyr illusions photo by donna October 1992. The view atop Chasseral, Jura Mountains looking across Switzerland to The Alps on the horizon. Fog, intensely thick, rising from Lac Bienne and stretching its fingers high onto the Lignières-Plateau de Diesse after wholly filling the valley below the plateau.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

European Adventure 2005 Day 16

So, i've returned for a few more days to soak up more of Utrecht's ambience, a town whose vibe i really enjoy. of the three Dutch cities i have visited... Amsterdam, Utrecht, Groningen... i can somehow, someway feel an intellectual and emotional connection on an immediate and basic level with Utrecht. Amsterdam is the nicest, coolest city that i have ever visited, but way too big and overwhelming. Groningen is quite nice in its blending of city action and small town familiarity, but a bit too much of a party-town. Utrecht's historical overtones and undertones of appreciation for things of antiquity and for higher knowledge/learning really appeals to my senses.
of course, i've only spent a few days in each city... little time to truly know their characters, strengths and weaknesses, so i may be totally off base, but these are my initial impressions... be them as they may.

Began today by doing some writing and organizing (sorta, lol) myself for my last week in The Netherlands before returning to whatever awaits me and my life in the USA. then, ventured out into another day of delightfully sunny weather to take a leisurely stroll about town...

And, along the way, saw this lady enjoying her work and thought it a neat subject for a photograph... a painter painting the window frame that frames the painter in the photograph. lol, yeah, my mind sometimes sees things in strange ways :p

During my walk, i saw something else interesting. as i was walking near a canal, i saw a that a drawbridge had opened to let a boat through. when i got a little further up the street, i cut over toward the canal to check things out and i saw a man standing on a walkway over the canal furiously turning a hand crank. curious as to what the man was doing, i walked over a convenient foot bridge crossing the canal (in retrospect, i think i walked over another lock) for a better look... he was closing a lock by hand! dang, that's got to be a hard job. i'd have thought all locks these days to be automated... guess not in Utrecht :)

Speaking of the canals, something i think very cool about the way Utrecht was built all those centuries ago is how the canals are bordered by wharf-like walkways and celler-like rooms are built into the canal walls going back for many metres under the streets above. seems so very practical and a rather sophisticated designed. i'm wondering, is this a common canal system design found elsewhere in Europe?

Had dinner at one of the many restaurants situated on OudeGracht, an Argentine restaurant at the Bezembrug (Bezem bridge). i sat at one of the outdoor waterside tables to eat, but did go inside to have a look around... really cool use of the low-ceiling, cave-like space with an open kitchen grill/food preparation area right inside the doorway and a couple of dining rooms extending back into the interior occupying the space under the street above. very cool atmosphere.
During dinner chatted with a man who is on some sort of an Utrecht Province historical preservation committee. he told me about hopeful plans they have to rebuild the old Dom church which was destroyed some 300 years ago by a big storm. the committee is lobbying for funding to rebuild the old church recreating medieval methods... a huge undertaking that is projected to take a couple of decades. our discussion reinforced that characteristic of Utrecht which permeates the town's vibe... pride in Utrecht's history and the yearning to preserve the town's heritage.

Other than strolling around enjoying the day, didn't do much today... just kinda enjoyed being on holiday :)

oh, also met a couple other Utrecht inhabitants enjoying a laid back day in the sun.


  1. http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5293/1202/1600/100_11451.JPG
    This pic was taken near my old school... (the one Arne attends at the moment)

    This one was taken near the Dom if I'm not mistaken. If you walk down that street you'll get to the Mariaplaats, that's where the Utrecht school of Music is located. That is also where the Stairway to Heaven (a café owned by the Dutch local celebrity Henk Westbroek) you might want to check it out some time.

    I'm off to do some homework :s
    Take care!

    Tim =)

  2. Tim! hoi! :)
    so cool that you recognise where these photos are taken.
    last week, somewhere near the school, i saw a guy that looks like Arne riding a bicycle down the street like a madman... wonder if that was him?!
    yup, the pic with the dog is very near the Dom, just off the plaza a little ways. will look for the Music school @ Mariaplaats.
    will also look for Henk Westbroek's cafe... i remember you told me about him :)

    bedankt for the suggestions of places to look for as i get lost in Utrecht :D