About Alison

I'm a native Floridian, who's also lived in New Orleans, New York, and North Carolina, and then moved to the Netherlands. Now that I feel like I've experienced my share of places starting with Ns, I've moved to Bologna, Italy.

A Sad Day for Nijntje

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I just saw the sad news about Dick Bruna, the creator of Nijntje/Miffy passing away yesterday. Discovering his work was one of the many joys I got out of living in Utrecht. As well as the Nijntje books and related pieces, he also did some great graphic design for other book covers. I picked up some of my favorites when I visited the Dick Bruna Huis (now Nijntje Museum).

I think I have one last Nijntje statue that I never shared. This one seems appropriate today, as it is half Nijntje and half Dick Bruna. It stands in front of the conservatory at Mariaplaats.
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It depends on the side, which one you see:
Dick Bruna Nijntje
Dick Bruna Nijntje
Dick Bruna Nijntje
At the base is a short poem dedicated to them both:
Dick Bruna Nijntje

RIP, Dick Bruna. You and your art will be missed.
world peace is possible

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A Flamingo in Italy

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The site is still a work in progress, but you can follow my new adventures in Italy at A Flamingo in Italy. The best way to keep up is to subscribe through email. Then you get a message in your inbox any time I add a new post. Don’t worry, you won’t get inundated and you also won’t get anything other than blog updates. Promise!

What you will get are pictures of Italian architecture, pictures of bicycles, because it’s become habit, and quite a few pictures of the wall art/graffiti that is everywhere in Bologna. And the occasional coffee and pastry, because they’re delicious!

To be honest, who knows what else you’ll get. I have a lot of city to explore and there could be all sorts of surprises! Follow along and see what I find.

Greetings from Italy

I had truly meant to do one last proper goodbye post before moving, but it just didn’t happen. The move was unbelievably stressful and I’m so glad it’s over. But we survived the two-day drive with dog and cats and as much stuff as we could cram into our car and despite some snow in Switzerland and a traffic jam around Milan, we finally arrived in Bologna, tired but in one piece.

I do plan on having a proper new blog for my life in Italy, but while we wait to get phones and such sorted, you can see some of my photos at the future blog’s Facebook page, A Flamingo in Italy. You can also see some other photos on my Instagram page, oranjeflamingo. And in the meantime, I may even post a few more things here that I never got around to posting about.

I still miss the Domtoren, but I have a new tower in my life. Two, to be specific. I will always love the Domtoren, but I’m developing a new love for the Two Towers of Bologna.

So for now, doei, Domtoren, and ciao, le torri di Bologna.
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Centraal and the Moreelsebrug

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The Utrecht Centraal train station has been undergoing a massive renovation for what feels like years and years. I rarely go to the station, so the few times I do, usually to meet up with visiting friends, it’s been a challenge to figure out where to meet, as various sections and shops have been closed off at different times.

But the main work seems to be done now and it actually looks pretty nice. I like the rolling wave effect of the new roof, visible inside and out.

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The foggy photo was taken from the new Moreelsebrug, a bridge that allows people to cross the train tracks without having to go inside the station or take a much longer route around the station. It has some nice views already and will probably have more when the rest of the construction at the Hoog Catharijne shopping mall is finally finished.

As well as being foggy that day, it was also really cold, especially up higher in the air like that, so Charlie and I didn’t stay long and I didn’t get as many thoughtful photos. However, if you want to read more about the bridge and see some better photos and video, I highly recommend you check out the recent post at Bicycle Dutch. I’m short on time trying to pack up and sell everything, so Mark’s post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I can just post a bunch of photos and you can read his expertly researched and interesting post. Win win!

For now, a few more photos inside and outside the train station and the bridge. Hopefully in the next day or so I can post a few pics of one of the newer art installations that has gone up outside the station on the Jaarbeurs side.

Cycling path on the right, walking path on the left of the Moreelsebrug. Definitely read the Bicycle Dutch post to learn the cool facts about the trees planted along the bridge.

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Where is the Domtoren?

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First off, happy new year/gelukkig nieuwjaar! I hope everyone survived and there are no hangovers! The only aches I have are from the two-hour death march Charlie took me on this morning. He never gets tired!

As I think I mentioned yesterday, it’s been a bit foggy here the past week. In fact, it’s been days since I’ve seen the Domtoren. As you see in the photo above, on the left is the typical view of the Domtoren that I get each morning when I take Charlie out. On the right is the view for the past week. Do you see a Domtoren? I sure don’t! Crazy, huh!

So on our walk through the generally deserted city this morning, I thought we’d at least head over to the Domplein and try and catch a glimpse of the tower. I’m on borrowed time after all and want to see as much of my beloved tower as I can before we move. The route we took typically has a few quick views of the tower, but none were any help this morning. In fact, even as I got up close on Domstraat, right next to the cathedral, I could still barely make it out, even though it was practically right in front of me!

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To give you some comparison, this photo above was taken shortly before 11 a.m. this morning. This next photo was taken at 9:50 p.m. on May 30,2008, shortly after we moved here.
10 to 10

You can barely see the Domtoren in the photo I took this morning, but you can see how clear it should be — and how close it is — in the second photo.

Maybe I’m just easily impressed by fog, but I was surprised by the density, even up close, particularly as it wasn’t that bad at ground level. Ah well, at least I got to see my beloved Domtoren and managed a few photos, to add to my hundreds!

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Festive Lights in Utrecht

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Despite the foggy weather – I haven’t been able to see the Domtoren for about three days now – there are still the sounds of fireworks and firecrackers going off and I’m sure people will still give it a go at midnight for the usual fireworks extravaganza. On this last day of 2016, I thought I’d share a light show of a different sort. These are some of the decorative lights to be found throughout the city, starting at Neude, then heading over to the Stadhuis, and then back toward Janskerkhof.

May your oliebollen be plentiful, your fireworks be safe, and your 2017 be wonderful!

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Time Travel: Voetiusstraat

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I thought I’d try to get at least one last Time Travel post in, even though I really should be writing for work, or packing, or doing dishes. I don’t even have a really good comparison photo, but it’s close enough.

What you see in the older photo is a view of a couple around 1900 walking along the north side of the cathedral, along what is Voetiusstraat. It’s a strange view if you’re used to the street now, because while the buildings on the right hand side of the photo remain (the one with the writing is now the delicious Carla’s Condoterie), the left has changed dramatically. I think it was around 1910 that the street was widened and the buildings on the left were constructed, particularly Voetiusstraat 2-4, which is a fairly impressive building done in the neo-Renaissance style. It was used as a public reading hall/library.

For the record, the street gets its name from Gisbertus Voetius, a 17th century professor of theology, whose house once stood there.

What is interesting about this section of street where Domstraat intersects with Voetiusstraat and the cathedral is the new herringbone brickwork that has gone down. It’s all more even and in an earthier, tawnier color. It really does look quite nice. I wish I knew how far it’s going to spread.

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In this slightly different view, you can’t see the buildings as clearly, but you can see the step into the cathedral that is visible in the old photo. The street levels do change a bit over the years, but the lamps remain much the same!
North Side

 

black and white photo via Het Utrechts Archief

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Kerstboom Market

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Need a last-minute kerstboom (Christmas tree)? The annual Christmas tree market at Janskerkhof has you covered. From the usual larger ones all the way down to small potted plants, you can find a lovely selection of “trees”.  With some bonus Bacchus for this festive season.

Fijne kerstdagen!

Holy Apartment

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There are plenty of jokes about not being able to go far at all without coming across yet another church in Europe. They’re everywhere! Though I grew up in the Southern part of the US which certainly doesn’t have any shortage, either. Yet sometimes there end up more churches than needed. Demand has dropped. So what do you do with these beautiful buildings? In some cases, you turn them into apartments.

St. Martinus, a former Catholic church, was built in 1901 by architect A. Tepe in the Neo-Gothic style. By the 1970s, it was falling into disrepair and it was around 1988 that it was converted into apartments as they stand now.

One side of the building looks out onto a street, but the other side looks out over the Oudegracht. On that side, there’s still a statue of St. Martinus.
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