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!

Bashful Bear

Bashful Bear
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!
Bashful Bear
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.)

Domtoren as Fietstoren

Fietstoren Fietstoren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been kerstmarkt (Christmas Market) weekend here in Utrecht, with markets popping up all over town. We hit them all, except the one at Mariaplaats, including the newest one at the Domplein. There will be many more photos to come eventually, but for now, I thought I’d share this fantastic version of the Domtoren, made completely out of bicycle parts. They even added in gargoyles made from bicycle parts! Brilliant!

Eventually, I worked my way around to get the perfect shots. Proof that it pays to look at things from every angle!
FietstorenFietstoren

A Trip to the Handmade Market

Zelfgemaakte Markt
The winter market season is in full swing, it seems, with the Zelfgemaakte Markt (Handmade Market) today, the Christmas edition of the Streekmarkt tomorrow, and the Christmas market that runs from 19-22 December around the Ganzenmarkt/Stadhuis area next week. Lots of great stuff to be found for last-minute Christmas gifts (or for yourself).

The Zelfgemaakte Markt is held a few times each year, but I keep missing it, so I was determined to finally go today. I’m so glad I did! So many pretty/funny/cute/useful/gorgeous things for sale! I saw some decorative plates and bowls that I almost bought, but then I came across the Studio Ellessi stall and I knew that was where I’d be spending the small bit of cash I had with me.
Studio Ellessi
She does these wonderful line drawings of various Utrecht locations and I wish I’d had more money with me, because I was having a hard time making up my mind which print to get! In the end, I went with a view of the Domtoren along the Oudegracht/Vismarkt, since it’s a favourite view and also goes well with one of the vintage prints I’ve purchased recently. Along with the Paushuize print, I’ve now got a nice little collection of Utrecht prints to frame and hang somewhere.
Utrecht Kunst
At some point, I’ll probably be ordering her print of Orloff at the Donkere Gaard, another favorite of mine. In fact, we walked past there today and I couldn’t help but stop to admire their Santa decoration.
Donkere Gaard KerstmisSantaSo the next time the Zelfgemaakte Markt is in town, definitely make a point of stopping by. There’s a fantastic mix of stuff and much of it is really affordable, on top of being well made. I was particularly impressed by the variety of items on offer, too, as sometimes it seems like the bulk of stuff is for children. There was plenty on hand for adults — of all maturity levels. There’s also food and drink for sale, including gevulde speculaas and cranberry gluhwein, and a few spots to sit and enjoy them there in the market.
Zelfgemaakte Markt
Zelfgemaakte Markt
Zelfgemaakte Markt
Liefde
Mariapomp

Even the Santas Are Tall

Santa Hats
We went for a wander through the kerstmarkt on Twijnstraat today and had a festive time. The market was even bigger this year and there were some really lovely items, as well as lots of tasty food and drink. We had our first gluhwein of the season, sipped after heading down one of the narrow alleys down to the Oudegracht. It’s always a nice break midway from the crowds!

From the very beginning of the market, there were people giving out free Santa hats. I got one, which came in handy at times since it was misting with rain. One of the people giving out the hats was the giant Santa on stilts. Or is he just particularly tall and skinny? Here in the Netherlands, it’s hard to tell sometimes!

Dutch Saint Nick
However, there was also a more traditionally sized Santa on hand, and kids could sit on his lap and have their picture taken (by their parents). There was even a Mrs. Claus, as it turns out, although I didn’t see her until later and didn’t get a photo.

The market is taking place again next weekend, so be sure to check it out if you can make it into town. I think there will also be a market at Janskerkhof. They were there yesterday, in small numbers, but there was no market there today.

Also, if you’re in the Den Haag area and want to order some Christmas baked goods this season, don’t forget my dear friends over at American Baking Company! They’ve even made a little video to wish you all a happy holiday season.

Kerstmarkt

Germany isn’t the only place to have Christmas markets; The Netherlands has it’s fair share of them and we went to one of them yesterday here in Utrecht. De Kerstmarkt in de Twijnstraat (The Christmas market in Twijnstraat) was a one-day event down in the southern tip of the city center. We weren’t really going to do any shopping, we just wanted to get out and enjoy the sights, particularly as the weather was clearer than it has been in a while, although it was quite a bit colder than it’s been so far this winter.

As you can see, the sun was out and shining brightly. This wasn’t late afternoon, though, despite the long shadows. Nope, this was shortly after noon. Of course, when the sun sets around 4 p.m., I guess noon could be considered late afternoon.

This was one of the more surprising scenes we saw. Quite realistic, isn’t it! Although, in this case, it was the dog that I was really trying to get a photo of, because he was just adorable and so calm and placid. There were lots of dogs about, so I think it was a good idea we didn’t take Pippo with us. I think he would have been overwhelmed! I saw a few dogs sniffing closely at some of the food stalls, as it was.

The stalls were a mix of food, Christmas decorations, and random odds and ends. There were some nice star decorations that I’m kind of wishing we’d bought now. Some of the stalls like the one above were representing the shops they were standing before. In this case, it was an Italian delicatessen. I think I read that Twijnstraat is the oldest shopping street in Utrecht, and there were certainly a number of interesting shops that I’d like to go back and visit. One of them is the butcher that was selling these sausages:

Of course, it’s not a Christmas market without some glühwein (mulled wine). There were plenty of stalls selling vats of the stuff. We couldn’t resist and soon had a cup warming our hands (and our insides). There’s just something so gezellig about a cup of glühwein on a chilly afternoon!