The Beer Is On Fire

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Yesterday morning, after taking Pippo out first thing, G told me about a building made only of beer crates that some students were constructing in Zocherpark, in front of the Biton and Unitas student associations. Curious, and wanting some photos, I went with G and Pippo during the afternoon outing to witness the festivities — and the completed structure — for myself.
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You see, yesterday began UIT2011, the week-long event that welcomes old and new students to Universiteit Utrecht and the high schools. There are events all over the city, including parties, concerts, tours and much more. The city’s population felt like it doubled yesterday, with packs of young students everywhere you looked, spurred on by the rare and beautiful weather we were having. The student associations near us were hosting their annual introductory parties, with all sorts of seating set up outdoors, beer stands everywhere, decorations, and even a mechanical bull!
Mechanical Bull

Crossroads

Take a Seat

One of the decorations they had set up was an incredibly long building made up of nothing but plastic beer crates, a tarp and some bungee rope. It was certainly the standout decoration in the park, even more impressive than the large inflatable owl that was there last year and making a return performance this year. I wasn’t clear as to what was actually meant to be going on inside the building, but it was interesting to see, nonetheless.
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Imagine my surprise this morning when G came in from taking Pippo out and told me that the whole thing had burned down and that a car had been caught in the inferno! It seems that some time around 5 a.m., a passerby saw the flames. By 8:30 a.m. this morning when G saw it, the fire trucks (brandweer) were gone and all that remained was a small corner of the beer-crate structure. Fortunately, none of the actual buildings on the street were damaged, and it doesn’t sound like any people were injured, although there are suspicions of arson. I suspect idiot arson, rather than truly malicious arson. Hopefully! One car did get caught up in the fire and it’s front end is just a husk.
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The area was cordoned off and police and what looked like a fire investigator were there looking over the remains and talking to some of the association’s students. Still, a little fire isn’t going to stop the festivities. As the investigation was going on, set-up for the day’s activities continued. The concert scheduled for this evening will also go on as planned. Lucky us.

Hopefully today is drama-free. Yesterday wasn’t exactly a great start to the introduction period, as three students were injured, one quite seriously, in an accident on an open-top double-decker bus. Added in with the fire, and things have been perhaps not gone quite as smoothly as organizers would want. I wish a speedy recovery to the injured students and hope the rest of UIT2011 is fun, informative and most of all, safe!

Welkom bij Utrecht!
Relaxing

And Now For Something Completely Different

This bit of news that happened today seems like it should be something from a Monty Python sketch. I follow Utrecht_City on Twitter and they had a few tweets about sirens and fire and police somewhere near the Neude. I had heard a lot of sirens shortly before that, so I was curious as to what was going on. They soon followed up with the following tweet:

brandweer rukt groot uit nabij hardebollenstraat, utrecht. (Het werd er iets te heet!!;-)

This is where things get funny. If you put that into Google translation you get the following translation, which breaks down some of the words a bit too much:

Fire ripped off big hard balls around the streets, Utrecht. (It was a little too hot !!;-)

Hardebollenstraat is a street name, which does translate to Hard Balls Street, but obviously, something got a little lost in translation. I think a slightly better translation is something along the lines of “fire tears through nearby Hardebollenstraat.” (Anyone who has a better grasp of Dutch should feel free to leave a better translation in the comments.)

It all gets a bit funnier — and the parenthetical aside about it being a little too hot makes a bit more sense — when you realize Hardebollenstraat is the small red-light district street here in the city center. A hilariously appropriate street name, it seems! (And now all of you who find my blog while searching for the red light district in Utrecht know where to go.)

To the Rescue

Morning Emergency
I awoke this morning to the sound of sirens. At first I thought that it was perhaps the police finally going to intervene in the all-night student party going on nearby (at 7 a.m. I could still hear the remnants of the party). Then a strange, loud noise started up, making it impossible to drift back to sleep. Curious about what was going on, I peer out the window and saw a couple of brandweer (fire department) trucks out in front of Café de Stad!

It didn’t seem to be a raging fire, since things seemed relatively calm and people were standing close to the building. No one was rushing about and there was no smell of smoke in the air. When G took Pippo out about an hour later, the fire trucks were gone and all that was left were a few policemen who had taped off the whole terrace area, stretching from Café de Stad up to Tilt.

I’ll be curious to find out what happened. Hopefully, nothing serious or terribly expensive to repair.

ETA: Well, it must not have been that serious. They’re open for business and all seems back to normal enough.