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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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!

Oma Nijn

Oma Nijn
I never finished posting some of the Nijntje statues that were dotted around the city last summer as part of the celebration of Nijntje’s (Miffy’s) 60th birthday. Seeing as today is Easter, I thought today might be a good day to post one of the image-heavy Nijntjes. This one is Oma Nijn (Grandma Rabbit) by artist Charlotte Dematons. Her version has Nijntje in a cozy cardigan featuring typical scenes of Dutch culture with Nijntje scattered throughout. I like the one where she and her friends are cycling through the tulip fields in both sunshine and rain. A bit like today! Which is your favorite?
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Color Explosion

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We’re reaching peak autumnal coloring right about now, it seems. On my morning walks with Charlie these past couple of days, with the sun shining and the sky a lovely blue, all the yellows, oranges, and reds of the changing leaves have been pretty spectacular. There’s a lot of yellow around town, and as in this first photo, it really glows when the sunlight hits the leaves.

That sunlight also creates some beautiful spotlights as the rays burst through the trees, as it did this morning in a little spot by the Sonnenborgh.
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The trees also create wonderful pops of color against the austere brick architecture. This building, in particular, seems made for this time of year, though perhaps better suited to the darkness and fog. I always think it looks like something out of a classic horror film. Love it!
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As we approached the Domplein, the Domtoren was glowing brightly, almost bleached by the sun, but this red tree at the Trans was particularly spectacular, with the mix of colors and the bright red against the blue sky.
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And finally, in the Domplein, Jan van Nassau has a stunning backdrop of changing leaves and unchanging Gothic architecture. Utrecht was looking pretty fantastic this morning.
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More Goodies from the Zelfgemaakte Markt

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I’ve posted before about my love for the Zelfgemaakte Markt (Handmade Market), so I was thrilled that it was back in Utrecht this weekend. This time, it was in the Domplein, instead of its previous spot at Mariaplaats. It was also paired with a food festival of sorts, with one side of the square filled with food stalls selling food to eat then and there, as well as food to take home. Tempting, but I was there for the arts and crafts.
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I continue to be impressed with both the quality and the cost of the items in the market. Everything is appealing and made by lots of talented people and surprisingly affordable. Ceramics, t-shirts, prints, drawings, and so much more … I wanted just about everything! Way too often, you go to markets like this and there are only one or two stalls with things you’d actually be interested in looking at, much less buying. Here, everything is of interest!

I did a quick run through to see what was really catching my eye (and to see what I could afford, since I had limited cash and not everyone takes PIN). My mental list was getting pretty long! Then I saw the Toepas stall and had to stop.
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It was at the market around this time last year that I first saw the Toepas Creaties stall and the fantastic items she makes from reclamed/recycled items, including ad banners and, of course, wine bottles. We ended up buying a number of her wine bottle candle holders for Vino Veritas and they remain real eye catchers. I stopped at her booth to say hi, but also to get a look at the necklaces she has started making. I’d seen them on her Instagram account and wanted to see them myself. They were just as cute in person and I made my first purchase of the day, buying one of the fox pendants.

After chatting, as I was walking away, I heard someone go up to the booth and clearly say “Vino Veritas”. Whether customers or someone who had seen the candles in our window, it was great to hear someone recognize them and make the connection!
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Next up was a stop at IsaBella’s stall. As soon as I saw her flamingo print, I knew I had to have it. That said, I would have happily bought one of everything. I really like her style and the whimsical nature of her prints. The hot-air balloon print would also go nicely with the new sofa pillow covers I recently bought. And though it wasn’t intentional, I love that I caught her in much the same pose as the girl in her print!
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My final stop was at the booth of another artist, Julie. As well as a fondness for flamingos, I also have a thing for dodos. When I saw her “Je t’adore” illustration of a dodo, I couldn’t resist!

I really wanted one of the Domtoren silhouette prints by Lucas van Hapert, but funds were running low at that point. But hopefully the opportunity will arise again. I picked up his business card as a reminder.
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It was a perfect day for the market, with the sun shining, and temperatures pleasantly warm. The square was filled with people, many of whom were clearly foreign tourists. On the plus side, yay, more people are learning about Utrecht! On the down side, it’s definitely getting more crowded and manoeuvring around all the tourists (who don’t want to move out of the way) is bringing back memories of New York.Zelfgemaakte Markt Hopefully, some of these tourists picked up a few items at the market to serve as lovely souvenirs. I’m certainly happy with the items I picked up! (The book was from a second-hand book shop and ended up being a story on its own. Not worth going into, but it seems I have an American laugh.)

800,000?!

DSC08161So it seems that 600,000-800,000 tourists are expected here in Utrecht for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in July. The city’s population will double or nearly triple.

That’s a LOT of people.

I thought the Domplein seemed much too crowded with tourists as it is on a normal sunny Sunday. Hmmm. Maybe I should stop encouraging people to visit more of the country than just Amsterdam.

Bashful Bear

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It’s not often you spot an ijsbeer (polar bear) in the middle of the Domplein, so I can be excused for wanting to take advantage of this rare occasion and get a few wildlife photos. Sadly, like many animals, a camera makes them a bit shy and bashful. Oh well, better than rage-filled and fast!
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Bashful Bear(OK, you got me. This one was part of a Greenpeace stand at the kerstmarkt (Christmas market) at the Domplein this last weekend.)