The Dog Days of Christmas

I am irresistibly drawn to dogs and regularly find myself admiring the many dogs we see while out and about. Occasionally I can get a quick snap or two of some of them, but dogs being dogs, most photos end up like this:
utrecht dogsFortunately, I did manage to catch a couple of dogs at the kerstmarkten the other weekend, and on this second day of Christmas (Tweede kerstdag, as it’s called here), I thought I’d share a couple of the photos. Because, dogs.
Domplein KerstmarktOne of the first dogs we saw was this giant Newfoundland dog, AKA a Newfie. I knew these dogs were big. I’ve even seen them before in person, but it’s still easy to forget just how big a dog they can be. I don’t think the picture even gives the true sense, as he’s sitting down and fairly relaxed. I just wanted to throw my arms around him and burrow my face into his fur. He looked like a giant teddy bear you just want to cuddle!
Stadhuis Kerstmarkt
This next dog was all too familiar to me in his straining enthusiasm to lick some fallen morsel of food off the ground. Well, I say food, and in this case it probably was, but often it just has to be something that smells good to a dog. Imagine walking an enthusiastic six-month-old dog through the streets of New York and all the inevitable stuff that littered the ground, edible or not. I still remember the game of tug of war when it came to keeping my Pippo away from a dropped slice of day-old pizza on one of our morning walks through Manhattan.

This little fellow managed to lick up whatever had fallen, as seen by the round wet mark just to the right of the dog in this next photo, before continuing his scavenging.
Stadhuis Kerstmarkt
It’s been just over two years since we lost our sweet Pippo, an enthusiastic scavenger and licker. Our dishes just aren’t as clean as they used to be.
Lekker!

Zeven Steegjes From a Different Perspective

zeven steegjes
I wrote about the Zeven Steegjes (Seven Alleys) two years ago. For a moment, I thought I’d written about them two years ago to the day, but then realized I was a month off. Still, close enough.

Last month, while on the Free Utrecht tour held every Saturday starting at the Domplein at noon, (you should go!), I ended up getting to the Zeven Steegjes from a different direction than I’d seem them originally. It was a nice surprise when I realized where we were. On my previous trip, I’d been more interested in seeing the clear rows of buildings and hadn’t really wandered down the actual streets. This time, I was captivated by the variety of decorations in the neighborhood, both on individual homes and the details within the building designs. I love a good keystone!
zeven steegjes
zeven steegjes
But seeing the rows of domestic streets from the back also gave me a different view of the rest of the neighborhood, including this fantastic view toward one of the church spires.
zeven steegjesA bright, sunny, winter day also helps. Plus, the buildings also made me think a bit of Italy, with the orange roof tiles and warm colors that some of the buildings were painted.
zeven steegjesAs if all of that wasn’t so charming you could just die, there was an adorable dog who seemed quite determined to tell us all off for invading his neighborhood. That, or he just wanted a bit of attention and someone to play with him. I would have gladly complied!
zeven steegjes

Dog Days of Summer

Biru and Friends
This week I thought I’d share some of the random photos I’ve taken around town. Some are funny, some are interesting window displays, and others are quiet, pretty corners easily missed.

First up is the charming statue of Biru the chow chow, a sculpture by artist Joop Hekman. I had seen the other two dogs coming and had hoped that they would stop and give Biru a friendly sniff, but they were too distracted to pay attention to a dog of bronze rather than flesh and fur. I didn’t get the shot I wanted, but I was happy to get the shot I did.

How Much Is That Doggy in the Window

Howling Hound
I’m used to seeing cats in windows. After all, our own cats spend plenty of time hanging out in the front window, watching the world go by and soaking up the heat from the radiator beneath them. I’ve seen plenty of neighbour cats in the windows, as well, and pretty much anywhere you go, you’ll probably spot at least one cat in a window on any outing.

What you don’t see so often is a dog in the window. But that’s just what we saw on Sunday on our way back from the kerstmarkt. We were first alerted to his presence by his baying. We could hear him and after checking the streets, we eventually checked the windows and that’s when we saw him.

Howling Hound
He would stop briefly when he’d get distracted by people passing by, but then he’d soon return to his howling. Most likely, he was feeling lonely and hoping that each passer-by was a family member come back home. You often hear about breeds like the beagle or basset hound having a baying howl, but it’s easy to forget how distinctive it is until you hear it again. I wonder how the neighbours feel about him!

Speaking of dogs, our own dog Pippo is having a bit of a health issue right now. He’s going in for X-rays tomorrow, so please think healthy thoughts for him. We’re hoping to get some answers and a path for treatment so he can be completely back to normal.

Dog Days of Summer

The Thinker
On Sunday morning, I rode over to the park area by the Sonnenborgh Observatory. I wanted to take some more photos of my favourite Spoetnik Kijker (Sputnik Watcher) statue and have another look at the HiĆ«ronymus Gasthuis that I posted about the other day. It was also just a nice day to go for a bike ride. I’m still primarily a walker, but I’m getting more comfortable with biking, as long as I don’t have to deal with the busier streets.

The small park where the statue is located really is a beautiful, peaceful area and somewhat unusual in that it is bordered on one side by a hill. Admittedly, it’s a man-made hill, but it’s still a large mound of earth. It was originally part of the walls that surrounded the old city center. The observatory and a couple of other buildings now stand on the top of the earthen wall, although some of the brick wall still remains.

As I was taking photos of the Spoetnik Kijker and his faithful, if somewhat distracted canine friend, I couldn’t help but be distracted myself by the games of chase going on in the other part of the park. There is almost always at least one dog playing fetch every time I go to the park and Sunday morning was no exception. There were at least three dogs running around, chasing each other and the balls being tossed about.

Playtime

However, as I moved closer to the dogs to get a different angle of the statue, the furriest of the chasers seemed to take issue with my presence. He slowly began walking toward me (although I should point out I was on the other side of the street and nowhere near them!) and began baying. Amused, I couldn’t resist getting a quick shot of him, before deciding to put him at ease and walk back from where I’d come. Fortunately, I was finished taking my photos, because he didn’t seem to want to stop baying and howling! I decided it was time to hop back on my bike and leave him free to focus on his game of fetch.

Guard Dog

Weekly Photo Challenge: Today (in Utrecht)

Kabouter Bloemen
Today is a beautiful day in Utrecht. Perfect for celebrating the city’s 890th anniversary of its official city status. There are a variety of events going on around town and I visited some today and took a few pictures along the way. Here are a few of the highlights, although I’ll probably expand on some details in other posts.

To start the day off, I walked through the bloemenmarkt (flower market) at Janskerkhof, which is where I saw the flowers above. I’d seen someone else post a photo of them on Twitter earlier in the morning and couldn’t resist seeing them for myself. So pretty! They’re called kabouter something or other, which is fun, since kabouter is the Dutch word for gnomes. It’s a great name for them!

Rode Loper Dagen
I also walked a red carpet! One of the streets has lined its sidewalks with red carpets. I think there are a lot of sales on this particular street this weekend.

Buurkerk
Then it was over to the Buurkerk (kerk=church) to see the specially opened Buurtoren (toren=tower), with information on bell ringing. The tower is part of the bigger church, which is now a museum dedicated to musical organs, music boxes, and similar musical items.

Little Blue Auto

Then it was on to the Domplein, the historic center of the city where the cathedral now stands, and where the Romans first built a fort almost 2000 years ago. The city has been an official city for 890 years, but it’s been an important site for much longer! There in the Domplein (plein=square), I saw this cute little blue car. More to come about that in another post.

Pandhof

From there, I headed into the cathedral’s cloister garden to enjoy the view and take in the wonderful gothic architecture, as well as the flowers. It’s a wonderful spot to sit and relax. From there, I could also hear the bell concert coming from the Domtoren, which was decked out in the city’s official flag.
Celebrating 890 Years

To go along with the concert, there was also some dancing as a preview of the Cultural Sunday dance events taking place tomorrow. This group of dancers was dancing along to the bell concert, moving around the memorial statue.
Utrecht Danst

Finally, I decided to head down Zadelstraat to visit one of the local bakeries that has a special chocolate treat that seemed perfect for today. This bakery has been making a Domtorentje chocolate since the early 1900s. I’ve been wanting to try one since I first heard about it recently. In the shop, I was not the only buying the Domtorentjes! I’m sure they’re selling a lot today!
Domtorentje

Next door to the bakery is a furniture shop that I mentioned recently. They’re famous for their bulldogs who like to lounge on the chairs placed out front. I posted photos of one of them last week and couldn’t resist another shot of one of them today. He looks so happy on his throne with his tongue sticking out!
Shop Dog

I hope you enjoyed my photographic tour of what I saw today in Utrecht. It’s been a beautiful day and I’m glad I got to help celebrate the city’s anniversary.

Shop Dog Revisited

Sweet Dreams
I’ve posted photos in the past of one of the bulldogs that spends his days at one of the furniture stores on Zadelstraat. Today, as we were heading over to Mariaplaats, we were lucky enough to see one of the other bulldogs. I couldn’t resist getting a few photos of this charmer asleep on his throne (or next to a throne), tongue sticking out to all the world. Look at that lovely face!

What a Face

Make Yourself Comfy

Tweede Kerstdag

Kerstmarkt in Amsterdam
The Netherlands doesn’t just celebrate one day of Christmas; they have Tweede Kerstdag, literally Second Christmas. That doesn’t mean you get a second day of presents, though. In fact, Eerste Kerstdag (First Christmas) isn’t even that big on presents, since Sinterklaas (Dec. 5) is the bigger gift-giving day. I’m not sure what the background/basis for the second day of celebration is, or if there are any traditional things done on this day. It doesn’t seem to be a big shopping day, either, as many of the stores are closed today.

For us, it’s just an excuse to enjoy another fun meal. Tonight we’ll be doing another round of gourmetten. I think the cheap one we bought last week has more than paid for itself already! We used it first while my friend was visiting and we used it again after she left. It’s a fun way of grilling at the table and gives you a variety of different dishes to enjoy. Tonight we’re having chicken in Thai chili sauce, steak in a sesame/soy sauce, and mini slavink, along with mushrooms and red bell peppers.

To round out this second day of Christmas, I figured I’d post a few more of the Christmas-y photos I took in Amsterdam last week. These were all taken around Leidseplein, an area I’ve gotten to know well due to seeing shows at Melkweg and Paradiso. The first photo above is a small kerstmarkt (Christmas market) set up on one side. The second photo is the other side of the square and shows one of the many oliebollen stalls you’ll find throughout the country. The last one is just a side street with some of the typical lights you’ll see hung across the street. Many of the streets in cities and towns all over have similar lights, varying only in design.

Leidseplein Oliebollen

Amsterdam Xmas Lights

Oh, and one last photo of Pippo in front of our tree. Just because!
Pippo en de kerstboom

Foto Vrijdag: Converse All Stars

It's like a Converse Advert
The beginning of the school year ontgroening began this past week, with the first batch of students lining up along our street Saturday morning, and the next batch this past Thursday morning. I’ve gotten some fun shots over the years and got another series yesterday that I’m really happy with. Looking through the window, I could see the students from the legs down and there seemed to be a lot of them wearing good ol’ Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. With the effects I was getting shooting through (dirty) glass and the brick streets and walls, the whole image made me think of some sort of slightly artsy advert for the brand, a bit like the old Levi’s 501 commercials. I even got a shot with a dog. Classic!
Hondje

And it wouldn’t be a Dutch photo without a bike:
Hanging Out