Snow Revisited

When I posted the photos of Atlas yesterday, I realized I never posted the other photos of the Nieuwegracht that I took that day in December. The Nieuwegracht is beautiful, stately and charming at any time of year, but with the coating of snow, it was something special.
X Marks the Spots
I saw this man walk out to the canal with a bucket and dip it in to get water, but my camera wasn’t fast enough to get the action shot, just the before and after.
The Bucket
Just Missed
It’s a long, quiet street, filled mainly with private residences and businesses, rather than a lot of shops. It’s yin to the Oudegracht’s yang, I suppose. The Oudegracht is the more obvious tourist spot, but the Nieuwegracht is definitely worth a wander if you visit. After all, both of them have the famous below-street-level wharves that are somewhat unusual.
Along the Nieuwegracht

White Stuff

Weight of the World
It snowed yesterday. Not a lot, but it did snow. That’s after that glorious sunshine earlier in the week. I’m not really surprised, though. My birthday is coming up soon enough and I’ve had plenty of occasions over the years to realize that my birthday seems to coincide with truly lousy weather, including snow storms.

This picture wasn’t actually taken yesterday. It was from the real snow storm we had right before Christmas. We had walked along the Nieuwegracht a bit to enjoy the scenery and I finally noticed this rooftop display, which I’d seen in someone else’s photo on Flickr. There’s some lovely detail in the building and the rooftop with the molding and the window tracery. Still, the poor guy looks a bit chilly!
Atlas Shrugged

Salty Dogs

On the Canal
Recycling here isn’t quite as easy as it was in the US, oddly enough. There’s no curbside pickup like I was used to, and to recycle plastic, we’ve got to go further than the paper and glass recycling stop that’s on the next street over. Fortunately, there’s a plastic recycle bin over by Lepelenburg Park, which means a lovely walk along the canal.

Coming back from dropping off the recycling today, I could see the wake of a boat approaching, but couldn’t see the boat behind the tree trunks. G saw me looking and started telling me about a boat he sees sometimes that has a dog accompanying the owner. Sure enough, it was them! Perfect timing!

Salty Dogs

The dog sits there quite calmly as the boat pushes the large storage hold in front of it. G said sometimes he’s seen the dog on the roof of the little cabin on the boat, but he’s always calm and seems to enjoy his life at sea, er, on the canal. He’s a lovely dog, but then I might be biased, since he’s somewhat similar in build to our dog. Regardless, it was a wonderful sight to see on a beautiful, if chilly, day.
Dogs at Work

Bikes and Rain

Bicycle Rain Coat 33.365
We had a couple of days of real sunshine this week! Amazing!

Unfortunately, we’re now back to rain and more rain. And rain again.

So, since I’m a bit distracted with other tasks, I figured I’d post this simple photo, which is a regular sight in the Netherlands. Bike seats covered with plastic bags. Some people use the bags to hide the fact that they have a nice (expensive!) bicycle seat. Others use the bags to try to protect their rear end from the unsightly, uncomfortable and embarrassing wet tush effect that comes from riding a bicycle seat that has had time to soak up all of the rain. Usually the bags are plain white ones, as you can see, but I was particularly taken with this bike pairing because of the more stylish/graphic art element to the bag in the front. It’s a nice little pop of color and design on a rainy day.

The Nieuwegracht and The Domtoren

Nieuwegracht en de Domtoren
I’m still working on resumés and getting approved at various writing/freelance sites, so here’s a photo I took the other weekend at the end of the Nieuwegracht (the new canal … that dates to the 1300s) looking toward the Domtoren (the cathedral tower). It’s a lovely street to wander along, admiring all the old buildings.

Daily Life

I’m afraid I’ve been slacking again with the blogging and photographing and the general keeping up on things. Part of it has been sinuses, part of it has been having a life, and part of it is trying to get more work. For example, this weekend I went to a friend’s Tet (Vietnamese new year) party and had a wonderful time, while today I’ve been trying to wrestle my resumé and MS Word into submission. As a result, I don’t really feel like doing more research into some of the buildings and other interesting sites around town. So today you’ll have to make do with this photo taken along the Drift canal. I’ve posted recently about some of the other buildings along the Drift, buildings which technically can be seen in this photo. I love the rows of black shutters in the foreground, and if you look in the very far distance, you can actually see the apse of the cathedral. Of course, there’s also the ubiquitous cyclist and rows of bikes. I think outdoor photos would look strange to me now without them! Still, it’s nice to stop and appreciate having this be a normal street scene for me. I count myself lucky!

Biru the Chow Chow

The internet is a wonderful thing. A quick Google search and voila! I had the name and artist for this sculpture that stands down at the lower tip of the Utrecht binnenstad (city center), just down the street from the Centraal Museum at the Servaasbrug. The statue is named Biru, after the dog owned by the artist, Joop Hekman. This one is a copy of the original, which is part of a larger grouping in Enschede. The artist himself originally hails from Utrecht and he, perhaps not surprisingly, had contact with Gerrit Rietveld. It was through Rietveld that he was eventually commissioned to create the statue/fountain that stands in front of the Stadsschouwburg (city theater) here in Utrecht! Somehow I’d never found out the name or artist of the fountain, despite seeing it regularly. He has a few other outdoor sculptures here in town, which I’m now curious to go see.

Would you like a coffee?

Koffie en Kado 32.365
The Dutch love coffee. If you go anywhere, you’re going to be offered coffee, even in shops and offices where you might not expect it. You also always get one cookie or piece of chocolate to go with your coffee. It’s all so very civilized! One thing to note for American coffee drinkers: the coffee cups (and amount of coffee) are often a bit smaller here than in the US, unless, of course, you go somewhere like Bagels and Beans (a coffee shop chain here in the Netherlands), where you’ll end up with the huge mugs of coffee.

While G and I are not the biggest coffee drinkers, we do enjoy a cup first thing in the morning. (I sometimes have two cups, and maybe another in the afternoon on cold days like today.) So after making do with a French press for the first year or so that we were here, we eventually bought one of the Senseo coffee makers, the type with the coffee pads/pods that make one or two servings at a time. For me, it’s perfect, because it doesn’t take a lot of extra work measuring and cleaning and boiling water and then waiting for it to steep. I know some coffee aficionados prefer other pod coffee makers or regular coffee beans/grinds, but for us, this works and works well.

Senseo was created in a joint effort between Phillips (the giant electronics manufacturer, which also happens to be a Dutch company) and Douwe Egberts, a Dutch coffee company that dates back to the 1700s, with its headquarters here in Utrecht. DE, as Douwe Egberts is often known, sells all sorts of coffee in regular grocery stores across the country, so it’s easy to find a variety of coffee blends for the Senseo machine here.
Time to Go Shopping
The bags that the coffee pods come in feature waardepunten, award points ranging usually from 5-20 points, depending on the type of pods you’re buying. Our usual coffee pods come in a bag worth 20 points. What’s the point of the points? You can save them up and then redeem them, either online, or in a DE store (like the one seen above) for more coffee or for a variety of coffee-related items, including machines, teapots, coffee cups and saucers, storage tins, dessert plates and more. I haven’t counted our points in a while, but we’ve got quite a few. I may count them up and then go to the DE store here just off Neude and see if there’s something that catches my eye. Maybe a nice storage jar or tin. I’d go for some more coffee cups, but we’re honestly running out of storage space for any more glasses or mugs, especially after I received a very cute Rietveld mug in my prize pack from the Centraal Museum.

Stijlish Bicycles

De Stijl Fietsen
I haven’t been doing so well with the daily photos the past few days, in part due to other distractions. Yesterday, we (finally) went to the Rietveld Universum exhibit at the Centraal Museum. It was an excellent exhibit, which I shall write more about when I’m feeling a bit more chatty. Today, I just don’t feel like I can write about any of the topics I want to write about and do them justice. So for now, enjoy this colorful photo of the bicycles that are decorated in the colors associated with De Stijl and Rietveld. They’re available for use at the museum to visit other locations. Now I’m considering giving my own bike a bit of a new paint job!