Tropic of Netherlands

Zomer in Utrecht
Summer temperatures here in the Netherlands tend to be quite a bit cooler than what I grew up with in Florida, North Carolina and Louisiana. There, high 80s Fahrenheit/30s Celcius was normal, if not actually on the low side during the long summer months. However, despite how common it was, I never handled those temperatures well at all. Headaches, sickness, heat stroke and sunburn were all part of my normal life every summer, to the point that nowadays I have an almost pathological fear of warm temperatures without easy access to air conditioning.

All of this is to say that the Netherlands is hitting tropical temperatures this weekend, expected to go over 30C all weekend. It hasn’t gone over 30C since 1994, to help put things in perspective. Of course, considering these kinds of temperatures are rare, it might not come as a surprise that air conditioning is pretty rare here. That’s not to say that I’m fine with stores not having AC. When you have to walk or bike everywhere, you get warm, and then you can’t even go inside a store to cool off while running errands. I know lots of Europeans don’t seem to like AC, but if my love of AC brands me as an American, that’s fine by me.

The whole country is making lots of plans to cope with the weather, supposedly laying on more trains and transport to get people to the beaches, as well as more police to handle the increased traffic. Here in Utrecht, I noticed an announcement that said that the outdoor terraces that many cafés and restaurants have will be allowed to stay open until 2 a.m. this weekend. Usually they have to close around midnight or 1 a.m. The extra hour is to give people as much time outdoors as possible, where it may be cooler.

Of course, that means our neighborhood is going to be louder for longer, and since we have to rely on one open window to keep things cool — while living down the street from three cafés — it’s bound to be a bit noisy tonight. In theory, I wouldn’t mind, except for the fact that I’ve been awake since 2 a.m. this morning. Ah! Insomnia! I’m just hoping that tiredness will trump heat and noise tonight and allow me to have a good night’s sleep.

Of course, if you’re not like me and don’t mind the heat — and if you’re in Utrecht — head to Park Lepelenburg (pictured above) Sunday afternoon for a mini music festival. I think there will also be music at the Griftpark that day. Just remember to wear sunscreen!

Foto Vrijdag 2.15

Last weekend was National Museum Weekend, in which 500+ museums were open free or highly discounted throughout the country. We (finally) went to the Centraal Museum to see the exhibit about the Italian/Caravaggio influence on the Utrecht school of painting, which in turn influenced much of Dutch painting, including Rembrandt.

We took the route to the museum that goes past Lepelenburg and Sonnenborgh in order for me to stop by my favorite sculpture — De Spoetnikkijker — and get a few photos. The sky was a great mix of dark clouds against a bright blue sky, which lead to some interesting photos (see my Flickr feed). I also got to play around with different angles, made easier by the fact that I didn’t have Pippo with me. I love going on photo walks with him, but I can’t spend quite as much time on the shots when I’ve got an 80-pound dog attached to my arm via leash. He’s gotten quite good at waiting patiently, but I feel bad about getting his hopes up that we’re going to move on, when really I’m just moving a few steps to get a different angle.

Foto Vrijdag 2.2

Even I’m starting to miss the warmer, sunny days. At least the temperatures are supposed to rise this weekend, so maybe the icy sidewalks will finally disappear. I’ll happily settle for that!

(Lepelenburg Park last August during the student initiation days.)