Signs of Spring in the Griftpark

Spring in the GriftparkA picture of two little lambs curled up together seemed appropriate for today. They’re some of the animals that live at the Griftpark, which we visited the other day. We went because I’d heard there was an International Market taking place through the 21st and I was curious to see what they had. Plus, the Griftpark is just a nice little park located nearby, at the end of a picturesque walk along one of the canals.

When we first got to the park, I realized that the kermis (fair) was also there. We were there pretty early in the day, so nothing was in operation yet and staff were getting some of the rides ready for the day.Spring in the GriftparkSpring in the GriftparkSpring in the GriftparkThe International Market was also just getting started, with a few stalls still shuttered. The offerings were mainly food, but there were a few stalls with clothing, handmade baskets, and the somewhat random stall selling necklace chains by the length. There were a number of nations represented, including Spain, Germany, Britain, and France, but the Italians seemed to be out in force. There were a number of Italian stalls selling cheese, meats, olives, nuts, and sweets. Spring in the GriftparkSpring in the GriftparkSpring in the GriftparkHowever, it was the animals that we spent the most time watching, particularly the pigs. They have a lovely curly, wiry coat that I was dying to touch, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had that urge, so they sensibly put up a warning sign telling people to be careful, because the pigs can bite. Duly noted! Spring in the GriftparkSpring in the GriftparkThere were also a few swans and a mix of ducks hanging around the small pond, as they often do, enjoying the sunshine and perhaps hoping for a few bites of pretzel from one of the market stalls. In all, it was a lovely little outing on a beautiful spring day.Spring in the Griftpark

Surprises in the Park

Griftpark Giraffe
I’ll give you a moment to think about what it is you’re seeing. It’s certainly not the usual cat or architecture I typically post.
Griftpark Giraffe
Yup. It’s a giraffe! A very real giraffe currently hanging out in the nearby Griftpark. The park does have a small petting zoo of sorts for children, but this is definitely not part of that menagerie. In fact, it’s part of a circus that is set up in the park this week.

I admit, I’m not a fan of large animals in circuses; there have been too many sad stories. But when an actual giraffe is hanging out in the park I’ve visited many times, I simply can’t resist going to see it for myself.

I’ve seen giraffes in person before and certainly on tv, but seeing one this close and getting to notice the details took me back to my childhood, when I pored over photos of all sorts of wild animals. This giraffe’s coloring is beautiful. I love the almost starburst-like dark centers of some of the “patches”. I also love the beautifully long eyelashes. For what it’s worth, though, it was the size of the feet were what stood out to me the most. Those suckers are big! The photo doesn’t even begin to do them justice.
Griftpark Giraffe
Griftpark Giraffe
Griftpark Giraffe
Griftpark Giraffe
Griftpark Giraffe

Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

Vet Hé
We took a walk over to the Griftpark this morning to enjoy the weather and take a quick look around De Utrechtse Fabriek, a bi-annual small indie vendor market. We also wanted to finally try some of Roberto’s ice cream, since there was a small cart set up at the market. Lekker!

I love that the Griftpark is technically right outside the old city center of Utrecht, but it’s easily reached from where we live. A short walk along part of the canal that rings the city center, and we’re there! There’s a skatepark in the front of the park, along with basketball courts and open fields for other sports. There’s another canal that crosses through the park, separating the sports fields from a pond, nature trail, playground, and general areas to enjoy.

I took this photo from the bridge over the cross canal. Nearby is the view of the skate bowl. In the far distance is the Domtoren, the 14th century bell tower. It’s the tallest bell tower in the Netherlands, and its huge height — 112.5 metres (368 feet) — is one reason why it looks much closer than it actually is. According to Google maps, it’s 1.5 kilometers from the restaurant in the Griftpark (which is next to the bridge where I took the photo) and the Domtoren. It’s roughly a 20-minute walk, to help put it in perspective.

Besides being a great illustration of atmospheric perspective, I love the fact that the kid who was skating was stopped for a moment so that it looks like the thought bubble in the wall painting behind him is coming from his own head! It looks like he’s thinking, “Vet hé”, which ultimately translates to mean, “Cool, huh”. It could refer to the trick he just did on his board, or to the way the Domtoren rises up over the city center. Vet hé.

Atmospheric Perspective

See other people’s interpretations of the weekly photo challenge here.

Vote for Utrecht’s Griftpark

Twisty Bits
There’s a Dutch magazine called Roots that has been conducting a search for the best city parks in the country. After an initial round of inspection and voting, they’ve narrowed down the choice to 12. One of those is the Griftpark here in Utrecht.

It’s a park I visit often and I can see why it has made the list. It sits on land reclaimed from an industrial site, creating a large green urban oasis just outside the old city center. As well as the traditional open green spaces, it has numerous other amenities, which probably influenced its choice over other parks. It has a restaurant/café, an area for skateboarding, basketball courts, a children’s playground, a city farm with a variety of animals, ponds, a wealth of vegetation and a nature center, art, and even a man-made hill that gives you a panoramic view of the city.

Voting is easy and doesn’t require a great deal of signing in/registering. In fact, if you have a Facebook account, it’s as simple as clicking the “Like/Vind het leuk” button on the park’s page. The photo on the park’s page shows some of the nature walk pathway. I’ll share a few other photos of things to see and do at the park. So if you like Utrecht’s Griftpark, please vote for it! Voting ends 31 August.

The Mountain

Eten en Drinken

One Big Pig

Orlando and the Pond

Bridge and Canal

Fluffy Neck

Just An Average Saturday

Curious Cat
The weather has turned lovely and everyone is enjoying it, throwing open windows, sitting outdoors, and just generally living the gezellig life. Even I’m feeling more like myself again, even if I do get easily tired. To make the most of the good weather and my return to health, G and I headed out this morning to hit up a few shops on Nachtegaalstraat. I had my camera with me, of course and took a few shots along the way. I figured I’d share some of the photos I took today that seemed to embody the spirit of the day. As you can see from the first photo, even the neighborhood cats were enjoying the spring weather and the open windows!
The annual Festival aan de Werf is going on this week and the area in front of the stadsschouwburg (city theater) has been taken over by a colorful part of the festival. I loved the geometric shapes, simple colors, and bright sunshine.
Festival a/d Werf Town
Unfortunately, by the time I got to that point, I was already feeling a bit wiped out. In my head I could envision the type of photo I wanted to get, focusing tightly on the shapes, but my mind just wasn’t moving quickly enough. I guess that’s the result of only really having two meals in three days. Still, with a bit of cropping, I got something close to what I had in mind. Fortunately, I’ve got the rest of the week to try again.
Geometric [Day 140/365]
Even our own animals couldn’t resist the siren song of the sunlight. Pippo made a beeline for the terrace when we got home and started sunning himself under the apple tree. It’s a dog’s life!
Tomorrow or Monday — Eerste and Tweede Pinksterdag (a two-day celebration of the Pentacost, and national holidays here) — I’ll be going over to the Griftpark to check out this year’s Utrechtse Fabriek, an indie craft show. I went last year and got to meet Nina from ninainvorm, who makes lovely pottery, including a piece I have. This year I’ll definitely be going to check out the work of fellow Utrecht-resident Kerry, of solohandmade. Even if you don’t get to go to the show, check out her website. She makes beautiful stuff!

Play Misty For Me

Despite the sun not making a return appearance today, it was still pretty today with the mist that has hung on throughout the day. The picturesque stillness of a quiet Sunday morning was more than I could resist, so Pippo and I headed out to the Griftpark once again. Quite a few other people had the same idea, but that didn’t detract from the experience, as the cold mist swallowed up any extraneous noise. There was something charming about the ghostly figures of couples strolling along the canal or children and dogs racing after toy balls.

The large pond in the center of the park was still frozen over, giving the birds and ducks their own skating rink.

My favorite Twisty Figures were looking particularly artsy against the misty, bare backdrop, although they were soon joined in play by a father, his sons, and a playful standard poodle.

There may have been a bit of frost on the ground still, and the monotone gray of the mist hid some of the brighter colors of the day, but there was still a hint of spring on its way as I spied these buds pushing their way up.

Utrechtsche Melk Centrale

The sun! It actually came out today! Sure, it’s back to being a bit overcast now at 3 p.m. but the sun was out and shining brightly this morning. Pippo and I took advantage of this lull in the rain and hit the streets.

A few weeks ago, on the Flickr Utrecht group, I saw a photo of a building with a cute old-fashioned advertising sign. I found out where it was — in a part of town I hadn’t yet explored — and kept note of it for my next photographic outing. Sadly, the rain has put that outing on hold until today. After checking the map and hoping it wouldn’t be too long of a trek or too hard to find, Pippo and I were off on our search. Maps of Utrecht are deceptive, in that distances look much further than they really are. We were at our destination in no time, even with a stop at the Griftpark honden toilet for Pippo.

I found my sign and got my shot and admired some of the other buildings in the area. It’s a nice quiet area, with lots of charming little houses. Definitely worth another visit someday. With our goal accomplished, we decided to head back over to the Griftpark since it was nearby and the weather was so nice. I took another panorama shot from the top of the man-made hill, when I discovered that various landmarks were visible now that the leaves were gone from the trees. I also got a few more shots of the Three Large Figures sculpture group that I posted about a few weeks ago. I admit I had a bit of fun playing with the contrast levels for this shot:

So, today marks the last day of November, which means I’ve successfully completed the National Blog Posting Month challenge. Thank goodness! I think I’ll try to return to quality over quantity in regards to my posting schedule.

Foto Vrijdag 1.3

This is a partial shot of a series of three sculptural figures over at the nearby Griftpark. The sculptures — Drei Grosse Figuren (Three Large Figures) — are by German artist Thomas Schütte. They’re one of the many bits of sculpture that seem to pop up in random places throughout the city. The Griftpark itself is a former industrial area that was transformed into a nice park. The three figures seem somehow appropriate.