Lurking in the shadows — or on a wall, or under a bench, or beneath a grate, or out a window — at Flora’s Hof and the connecting bookstore, you’re bound to come across a fearless ginger cat. I’ve seen this cat grow from kitten to adult, and it’s always doing something crazy or cute. In other words, a classic cat.
A few weeks ago, while taking the Utrecht Free Tour with visiting friends, everyone got to see this charming cat for themselves. Many photos were taken, especially by my fellow cat lovers, as on that day, the orange tabby was relaxing in the shade of the palm tree in the center of the garden. Yes, a palm tree! No wonder it’s one of my favorite spots in town! So the next time you’re in the little garden area off Servetstraat, next to the Domtoren, keep an eye out for this crazy kitty. She’ll typically pose for photos, but be fast, as she may suddenly change her mind and race off to parts unknown, through her own secret system of tunnels and bolt holes. But beware if she’s hanging out in one of the gratings along the garden path. She’s been known to swipe at hands reaching down irresistibly to pet her. Ouch!
Last week, Utrecht turned a bit misty, but that didn’t stop the city from looking stunning as usual. A number of people took amazing photos of the Domtoren with its own shadows in the mist. And now it turns out someone else captured some beautiful aerial footage with a drone of the Domtoren in the mist. I’m just envious that I didn’t see it for myself.
While my friends were visiting, we did end up taking a couple of day trips to Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Our visit to Rotterdam was for one specific point of interest, which I’ll post about eventually, once I can whittle down the photos. Oh so many photos!
Rotterdam is a very modern city, due in large part to the fact that much of the city was destroyed by bombs in World War II. As a result, instead of an old city center full of traditional Dutch brick buildings that have been around for a few hundred years, you end up with gleaming glass skyscrapers and a variety of large contemporary buildings. We have more modern buildings just outside the Utrecht city center, but I only see them rarely, so it was a bit of a culture shock in a way. But in a nice way!
Today, I’m just going to share a few photos of the Rotterdam Centraal Station, which was recently renovated. It’s a stunning structure, with sweeping lines and metallic materials that shimmer and shine, especially in the crisp winter afternoon sunlight. The Utrecht train station is undergoing its own renovation right now and I hope ours turns out even half as impressive.
As my visiting friends discovered, Utrecht is full of adorable cats and we were all stopping regularly to admire them. This is one I happened to spot on one of the little side streets off Twijnstraat leading down to the canal. After a good stretch, this pretty kitty looked ready to scale a wall or two.
It’s been a fun and busy week, with friends visiting, giving me a chance to explore the city anew, as well as visit a few new places here and in other cities. Lots to post about, lots of photos to share, but right now, not a lot of time. So I’ll start with a simple one.
My friends were staying at an airbnb over by Mariaplaats (very cute!), so we often met up at the Domplein as a starting point. One day, while waiting, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the remembrance statue and the trompe l’oeil depiction of the interior of the cathedral framed by the Domtoren walkway. All the empty space in between used to be the nave of the cathedral, but that was destroyed in a “tempest” back in the 1600s. The large image on the wall serves as a sort of window into the interior of the cathedral, looking toward the apse. In the illustration, you can see some of the central ring of columns, the stained glass at the eastern end of the church, and even some of the chandeliers. And this is how it actually looks inside.
There’s a little less stained glass throughout, but otherwise it’s the same. Either way, it’s a beautiful interior, even without all of the statues and decorations that were stripped out during the Reformation. I cut my art history teeth on Gothic architecture, so I do have a fondness for this cathedral, inside and out.
We didn’t really get any snow last year and the way these last few months have been surprisingly warm, I’m not sure we’ll get any snow this year, either. But even without snow, there are plenty of winter traditions and events in Utrecht that give the city its own charm. And really, with all those brick streets and sidewalks, not having to navigate them when they’re covered in snow and ice is a good thing!
I recently wrote a travel feature about some of the upcoming winter events in Utrecht for a Canadian-based publication called DUTCH: The Magazine. You can pick it up at select news stands in North America, I believe, but this month, you can also read my article online. So if you’re like my three friends coming in tomorrow from the US, Canada, and Germany, and want to get some ideas of things to see and do in Utrecht this winter season, you’ll find a few tips and suggestions, along with a brief bit of history of this amazing city.
A cute little back street in Utrecht on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The vanishing perspective, the rounded corner of the building, the different shades of bricks … they all caught my eye.
But it was the rounded corner building that really grabbed my attention. Particularly the windows right on the curve.
Especially the beautiful — if somewhat disdainful — white cat sitting in the window.
Halloween’s not really a thing here, unfortunately. I always loved it in the US and had a nice selection of decorations. Sadly, they were left behind and only our two black cats made the big move. They’re the best decorations year round, anyway.
Still, I can’t resist a quick post to wish everyone a fun Hallow’s Eve. I was going to post a few gargoyles, but then I remembered the Kasteel de Haar here in the Utrecht province. It’s a real castle! No vampires or ghosts, but there is a spooky doll in a window.