Caturday: A Progression

window cat
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.
window catParticularly the windows right on the curve.
window cat
Especially the beautiful — if somewhat disdainful — white cat sitting in the window.
window cat

Caturday: Winkelpoes Edition

My photo on Wednesday of the mask and sewing machine was from a window display of a tailoring shop on Voorstraat. In the past, I’ve noticed their window display more for the cat that is sometimes in the window. When I passed by recently, it was the mask that caught my eye, but soon enough, the cat suddenly appeared, although this time outside the shop.
Voorstraat Tailor's Cat
He seemed ready for the shop to open and wasn’t happy about the closed door. Perhaps he had some faulty stitches he needed to pick out from a garment. Regardless, he seemed a bit exasperated that no one was opening the door for him. You could practically hear the frustrated sigh.
Voorstraat Tailor's CatMany shops and restaurants throughout the Netherlands have their own winkelpoes (shop cat) and photographer Robert van Willigenburg has photographed many of them for his series of books called Kat in de Stad. He originally started with the cats here in Utrecht, including a few I know and have photographed myself. He’s now moved on to some of the many cats to be found in Amsterdam in his latest edition of the book that is hot off the presses.

I don’t usually promote Amsterdam stuff, as many of you know. After all, the city gets plenty of attention already. But when it comes to cats and books, I can’t resist. Particularly as I edited the English language version of the book. 😉
Kat in de Stad (Amsterdam)
Today is Dierendag, AKA World Animal Day, so give your own animals a bit of extra love and attention and maybe order a copy of Kat in de Stad. Trust me, it’s a beautiful book (in either language) full of entertaining cats.

Caturday: The Dog Edition

bullThe Zelfgemaakte Markt was back at Mariaplaats today and I was hoping to pick up another print by Studio Ellessi, so I found myself walking down Zadelstraat. That means two things: Domtorentje chocolates from Theo Blom and the bulldog(s) of De Koperen Bel.

As I approached the shop, I was worried, because I didn’t see any dogs in the usual chairs. But then, lo and behold, there were two squat legs and a white tush staring up at me (yes, it turned out I approached him from behind). When I got to the front end, I knew I’d have to take a quick picture. Sadly, I should have used my proper camera instead of the phone to get a few closer shots. His tongue was sticking out on the left, adding to the whole look of wanton abandon. Fortunately, Nico Arkesteijn, a fantastic photographer here in town got another shot of the dog in the same position, just from a different angle. Go check out the photo and then check out more of Nico’s photos and/or follow him on Twitter. He gets some really wonderful photos of Utrecht.

The title of this post was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but before ceiling cat comes down and smites me, I should probably throw in at least one cat photo, just to be on the safe side. I only saw one cat while I was out today and he zoomed past me before I could even think of taking a photo, so I’ll leave you with a photo of Lola sunning herself in the front window, distracted for a moment by the satellite basket she sees and sniffs daily.

Sunny Caturday

Ruben's CatThere’s a cafĂ© near the end of the Nieuwegracht called Rubens Proeflokaal. You can go there to sample a variety of drinks and also take part in courses and workshops. They also have a cat. I’ve seen this cat quite a few times over the years and s/he’s almost always in this one spot, taking in the morning sunshine.
Ruben's CatWhen I saw her again this past week, I couldn’t resist a few shots, especially as she vaguely noticed my presence for a change. She usually looks too sun-sleepy to bother. A few hours later, as I passed by again, I saw her in a different spot for once. Not only was she not in that front corner, she was actually outside the cafĂ©. When she saw me, she started meowing (I caught her mid-meow) and came right up to me, rubbing against my leg. I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t resist her charms, though. Someone else was petting her and photographing her as I approached. Still, I think she’d had enough of the “paparazzi” as she seemed ready to go back indoors. If only someone would open the door for her.
Ruben's CatRuben's CatRuben's Cat

The Return of Caturday

Oudegracht Bloemen KatCats and the internet are a match made in heaven, so when in doubt, blog about cats. Utrecht is full of beautiful cats, in front windows and out on the streets, so here are a few I’ve come across recently.

This first cat was hanging out by the flower vendors on one of the bridges across the Oudegracht. He was sniffing the bikes and tarps and rubbing against both, claiming them all. I think of this next photo as his “proud warrior” stance.Oudegracht Bloemen Kat
On my birthday, as we walked down Voetiusstraat, we saw one of our old cat friends.Voetiusstraat KatHe was obviously busy and had places to go, but you can always count on him to come and say a brief hello, before heading off once again. I think he may have been going to try his luck at Carla’s for some tasty nibbles.Voetiusstraat KatSpeaking of tasty nibbles, Luna is making it clear that she would like some of her own now, thank you very much. When she gives me that look, I know it’s time to listen. Enough with posting about other cats, time to focus on my own!Waiting, Not So Patiently

Icons of Utrecht

Wittevrouwen Muur Kunst
I took these photos back in December, but forgot to post about them. Today, however, one of the stars of this fantastic bit of wall art reminded me that it was time to post them. You see, Sheriff, the black and white cat at the center of the painting, performed his usual task of escorting us to and from our home today. He prowls the neighborhood, keeping an eye on things, and I think perhaps he courts one of the neighborhood cats, although from the sounds of things, I’m not sure how successfully.

The mural is a mix of Utrecht icons. As well as Sheriff, another neighborhood icon is the white building, which is now a lawyer’s office but was once a police station. It has a clock tower that rings out the hour and half hour throughout the neighborhood. Of course, the mural also features a couple of other Utrecht icons, namely the Domtoren and the city’s notable canals with wharves below street level.

I always love these creative uses of large blank wall spaces. The artists who fill them explore a fantastic range of subjects and styles, and they’re always worth admiring.
Wittevrouwen Muur KunstWittevrouwen Muur Kunst
Wittevrouwen Muur KunstSherrif

Old Cat Friends Revisited

Needing to drop off some plastic recycling, which is further away than our regular recycling collection point, we decided to keep walking for a bit after our recycling duties were done. It was early on a Sunday morning with little else to do, after all.

It was a surprisingly nice morning to start, with lots of grey skies broken up by bright bursts of sunlight. With some of the trees still showing off their autumn colors, it really was a beautiful sight. Sadly, I haven’t sorted out my camera issues yet — and oh, the number of shots I would have loved to have taken today! — so I have no new pictures to share. You’ll just have to take my word that Utrecht was being its usual beautiful and quirky self.

As I hadn’t been over to the Domplein in two whole weeks, we decided to head in that direction as we walked up the Nieuwegracht. As we strolled along Achter de Dom, heading toward the cathedral, we noticed a cat following two women a few paces behind. Looking closer, I suddenly realized that I knew that cat! It’s the cat I used to see almost weekly as I would head to the Pandhof to take my gargoyle photos.
Best of all, the cat seemed to recognize us, as well, even from across the street. Spying us, he meowed and immediately crossed the street to come straight up to us, meowing the whole time. Despite knowing from past experience that this cat sets off my allergies, I couldn’t resist a quick pet as he rubbed against my legs.

Then he was off, with a final farewell meow as he went on his way. I hadn’t seen him in months and worried that he’d moved, as the antiques/art shop where he was often spotted had closed, so it was lovely to see him again.

It’s always nice to run into friends and acquaintances when you’re out and about. It helps to feel like you’re a part of a community. That applies equally to cats as to humans. Now excuse me, one of my cats is suggesting that now would be a good time for me to feed her, especially as I’ve been out carousing with other cats.

The Best CafĂ© in the Netherlands

Café Cat [Day 71/365]
What happens when you combine Belgian beer, a cat, and a church? You get the Café Olivier, the top-ranked café in the Netherlands, according to the Misset Horeca Café Top 100 listing. The ranking was announced yesterday at a ceremony in Rotterdam, with pride of place going to the Utrecht café located just steps from the Hoog Catharine.

CafĂ© Olivier has been open for around seven years (there’s also a location in Leiden) and is known for its extensive selection of Belgian beer, as well as a knowledgeable staff to help you choose. There are seven varieties always available on tap, and another 60 bottled varieties are available through the menu. They also have an appetizing lunch, dinner, and snacks menu, and yes, that includes mussels.
CafĂ© Olivier [Day 152/365]As if the food and drink selection wasn’t enough to grab your interest, the cafĂ© is housed in an old church. It’s unassuming from the outside, but when you walk inside for the first time, it’s pretty hard not to be left a bit gob-smacked. I had walked past the cafĂ© plenty of times and had no idea it was a former church. Thus, the first time I went, I was completely stunned when I emerged through the small entrance that blocks drafts and saw the soaring groin vaulting, clerestory windows, and the old organ.

Despite the grandiose setting, it’s surprisingly gezellig, with various prints and pictures hanging on the walls and warm lighting to complement the wood throughout. And yes, there are various cats to be found in and around the cafĂ©. Guus seems to be the resident kroegtijger, though.

So, great beer and food, fantastic setting, and a cute cat. It’s no wonder CafĂ© Olivier came out on top! If you’re looking for things to do in Utrecht, whether you’re just visiting or live here, I do recommend a visit to the best cafĂ© in the Netherlands. I’ve been known to get overwhelmed by the sheer variety of beers on offer, though, so what’s your favourite Belgian beer?
Belgian Beer Bar

Caturday: Tree Climbing Edition

It’s a rare outing in Utrecht that doesn’t include the sighting of at least one cat. Whether it’s a cat comfortably curled up in a cafĂ© or roaming the city streets, there’s no shortage of feline residents.

As I was walking along the Oudegracht this week, I saw an adorable dark grey cat among the mass of bikes parked at the Donkere Gaard. She was tiny and sleek and a bit more skittish than many of the local cats. Before I had much time to admire her, she’d taken off, weaving her way through the bikes. I was heading in the same direction and then turned onto the bridge to cross to the other side of the canal. As I was walking along the bridge and admiring the view, I saw the little cat again. She was on the edge of the street level, clearly readying herself to jump onto the nearby tree.

That’s what you see in the photo above. Look closely. She’s the blur racing up the trunk of the tree. Fortunately, I had my camera phone out, having planned on taking a photo from the bridge, anyway. She made the leap and quickly raced up the tree trunk to one of the overhanging branches, where she disappeared from view. Such a tiny cat, but such amazing speed and agility — and claws! I was actually glad she moved so swiftly, so I had less time to worry (needlessly).

If you look closer, you can see one leg clearly outstretched as she speeds her way upward. And yes, I was standing on the bridge over the River Kwai (restaurant).