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.

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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.
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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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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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Domtorenen

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One of the things about moving is that now I want lots of the touristy things as keepsakes. So this weekend, after meeting up one last time with some friends, I stopped in at the VVV (tourist office) at the Domplein and picked up a few things I knew I couldn’t leave without. I could have gotten each item in different shops or online, but the tourist office was a convenient one-stop shop!

One thing I have wanted and would have eventually bought, even if we hadn’t moved, was the Domtoren cake pan. How cool is that?! They’ve been out for a few years now and I absolutely love it. I knew I couldn’t leave Utrecht without one.

Next on my list was one of the wooden Domtoren ornaments from Noest. They make a variety of items, from decorations to cutting boards, using wood from Utrecht trees (trees that had to be cut down anyway). I had originally tried to get this decoration at the Zelfgemaakte Markt the weekend before, but they didn’t have this particular one. The only ones left that I wanted at the VVV were actually on a display, but fortunately I was able to purchase one of those. Still, the other one is pretty nice. It’s a silhouette of famous buildings around the city.

Finally, I couldn’t resist a Domtoren figurine. Maybe I’ll get my own bell-jar display for it like Utca’s Finest has in their front window. Regardless, I can make sure I still see the Domtoren every day, just as I do now. I’m going to miss that toren.

The Missing Nave

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This is a different view of the St. Martin’s Cathedral than I usually get, but it does give you a better sense of just how big the cathedral was when it was complete (or close enough). The part that remains is the transept (the part that essentially forms the arms of the cross of many churches) and the apse (the usually rounded bit at the top of the cross/church). As I’ve explained before, the nave (or main body of the cathedral) was destroyed in a storm in the 1600s. It reached all the way to the Domtoren, which is just out of sight on the far left of the photo. Seeing the church from this angle really does give a better sense of just how big it was and just how much was lost in the storm.

Plus, bonus bakfiets (the sort of wheelbarrow bike) on the right!

See You Later Alligator

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Not my usual picture of Utrecht or the Domtoren. This one’s a bit grey and gloomy, especially when you look at the Domtoren’s clock and see that it’s 12:30, as in midday. That’s about as bright as it got yesterday, though at least it didn’t rain.

This past weekend was the seemingly citywide Christmas market festival. Mariaplaats, Stadhuisplein, Neude, Janskerkhof, Twijnstraat and other locations were hosting a variety of festivities. I usually enjoy it, but it didn’t seem as fun this year. The Zelfgemaakte Markt at Mariaplaats was great, as always, but the Stadhuisplein was pretty empty, while Twijnstraat was bigger and busier than ever, to the point that it was too crowded. We got our traditional cup of gluhwein and headed away from the crowds to sit and enjoy the mulled wine by the canal.

Perhaps the grey weather and the not-quite-so-enjoyable Christmas markets were Utrecht’s way of making me feel a little less sad about leaving.

Yup. We’re moving on. It’s not really what we had expected or planned, but it is what’s happening. After eight years in Utrecht, we’re now moving to Italy. In one month exactly. Stressful, depressing, and by the way if you need any furniture, kitchen odds and ends, it’s all for sale and we still have to pack and get the pets’ passports and ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

We’re heading to Bologna next, where I plan on doing some more blogging. After all, I have a degree in art history with an emphasis on Italian Renaissance architecture, so if you think I did a lot of research on stuff here in Utrecht, you can imagine what I’ll be like there!

Still, I’ll miss Utrecht and the Domtoren and the Domtuin/Pandhof and the Spoetnikkijker. I certainly have plenty of photos of them all to remember them by, but it won’t be quite the same. But Bologna is a stunning city and I’m sure I’ll find some new favorite spots.

I certainly hope to do a little more blogging here, as there’s stuff I’ve yet to get around to posting about and a few things I want to see one last time or see before I leave. I’ll keep this blog up, too, as it still gets its fair share of visitors. And hopefully some of you will follow me virtually to Italy. Last time I was there I was using film and not a very good photographer. I can’t wait to improve on all of my grainy photos!

Ciao!

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