Utrecht’s Light

Utrecht Sky
I was looking through some of my photos and trying to come up with a theme for some of them, but I didn’t have much luck, so instead you get a post of random photos around town.

While Charlie and I were out on Sunday to see the pope (statue), we ended up wandering around a bit more of town. We didn’t really go far, as the light wasn’t all that inspiring at the start. There wasn’t a lot that made me want to get out my camera. However, after a coffee break at one of the caf├ęs along the Oudegracht, things started to look a bit better. Or maybe it was just the hit of caffeine. Charlie convinced me to head over to Neude to see if the oliebollen stall was open. It was. And as I juggled dog and a bag of warm oliebollen, I happened to glance up and see the impressive sky overhead. It had been dull and overcast for much of the morning, but the sun was making an effort to break through. As you can see, the result was a wonderful silhouette of the Domtoren and the Utrecht flag over Neude, with some amazing clouds.

We then walked back through Janskerkhof to smell the Christmas trees for sale and take a few more photos along the Drift. The sunlight was starting to come through and one of the beautiful buildings by the canal was starting to turn ever so slightly golden in the light.
Golden Drift
This is the view of the other side of the canal where you can see the sun starting to really glow.
Light and Shadow
Even Charlie caught the light to show off his lovely brindling.
Charlie by the Drift

Wild Bicycle Parking in Utrecht

Bike Parking Along the DriftDespite the number of official spots for bicycle parking in the city, ranging from indoor parking to your typical outdoor bike rack, wild parking (I like the literal translation of wildgeparkeerde) is still the norm. It’s not surprising, considering the number of bicycles in the Netherlands outnumbers people, not to mention the whole point of cycling is the convenience it offers. If you’re out running a quick errand, you don’t want to park your bike blocks from where you’re going, just to park in a designated spot. Of course, there aren’t always that many designated spots, either.
Bike Parking Along the Drift
The Drift canal runs is lined with university buildings, including a library, so it’s no surprise that it’s a popular destination for people on bike. Students and faculty alike spend plenty of time in the area. However, offhand, I can’t think of that many convenient outdoor bicycle parking areas nearby. I think the newly renovated library probably has some underground parking now, but there’s still plenty of wild parking happening up and down the canal. So much so, in fact, that signs have to be put up on some of the bridges to prohibit bikes being parked there. With varying degrees of success.
Bike Parking Along the Drift
Some people really dislike the mass of bikes that pile up and they can be inconvenient at times, but overall, I don’t mind them. I’ll take huge swathes of bikes over cars any day! Plus, it can be quite picturesque in its own way. A row of lamps, a sea of bicycles, charming buildings, and a Gothic cathedral to top it all off.
Bike Parking Along the Drift

Time Travel: Driftbrug

Photo via Het Utrechts Archiefphoto via Het Utrechts Archief

This is just a quick post to show a bit of then and now and how little has changed in 100 years. This is a view of the Driftbrug, a bridge over the Drift canal. To the right, the street become Wittevrouwenstraat and to the left it becomes Voorstraat. Today, a number of the Utrecht University buildings line the street along the canal where the photo was taken, while expensive homes and various businesses line the canal in the distance. At that point, the canal becomes known as the Plompetorengracht.

Although the buildings have changed purpose since this photo was taken in 1908, the majority of them have remained roughly the same. That said, one of the unseen buildings on the left has changed quite a bit, as have the stairs leading down to the canal. It’s all a bit more crowded with signs, traffic lights, and of course, lots and lots of bikes, but it doesn’t take much imagination to see what it was like just over 100 years ago.