Opening People’s Eyes to Utrecht

Last year, Utrecht got a mention in a Lonely Planet article about 10 hidden gems of cities. This year, tourism is up, although there’s no specific information as to whether the article influenced anyone or not. Who knows, maybe my own blog is the cause of the rise in numbers. 😉

Now, CNN has posted an article about the new cities in Europe that everyone should be visiting. Rather than hit the usual spots, visitors should look into other equally appealing cities. For example, one close to my heart is the suggestion that instead of visiting Rome, people should check out the beautiful city of Bologna. And of course, instead of Amsterdam, come to Utrecht!

My role as unofficial ambassador for Utrecht has been noticed, as well. A new article on the Utrecht tourism website takes a look at some of the websites and the people behind them who are singing the praises of Utrecht. I’m thrilled to be included in such a great group, since they’re all websites that I already follow and find useful. Even if you can’t read the article, click on the links. Most of the sites have content in English.

It’s always great to see the city get some recognition. If you’re coming to the Netherlands, do give us — and lots of other cities — a visit. But do please behave yourselves! Stay out of the bike paths, don’t litter, drink responsibly, and just be nice. For that matter, behave that way at home, too!

Drive-By Posting

I’ve been a bad blogger, not even updating the calendar of events. But everyone gets into a funk every now and then and hopefully I’ll work up the energy to post some interesting stuff in the next few days. In the meantime, here’s a bullet list of random interesting things and events and a picture of some new wall/door art I noticed.

  • Coming Out Day 2012 is held on 11 October and Utrecht will be one of 36 municipalities flying the rainbow flag. The goal is to promote safety and acceptance for the 20,000 GLBT residents of Utrecht.
  • Also on 11 October, Utrecht’s new Information Center will be opening on the Domplein with Nijntje/Miffy opening the center. The t-shirt chosen from the numerous entrants in the Big T-shirt Contest will also be on display.
  • The Impakt Festival is also starting on 11 October. This is a five-day multi-discipline festival focusing on media art.
  • And now for something completely different that is already out … kindly invited me to participate in their expat interview series and it’s out now. In it, I ramble on various topics and show why it is important to always have someone else proof your own work no matter how good you are at proofing the work of others.

Links 2 3 4

Het Mooiste
Over the past few years, I’ve collected various links to sites with news and entertainment information about Utrecht. Some sites I use more than others, and nowadays, I follow a lot of relevant sites through Twitter, and click through to the site when a story headline catches my interest. Still, I thought I’d share a few of the sites I seem to click through to the most these days. If you’re new to the area and looking for different resources, these handful of links might be of use. There are certainly many more sites than I’m linking to, but these are the ones that I’m interested in these days. Feel free to suggest other sites if you find them particularly helpful.

De Utrechtse Internet Courant: This is probably one of the most useful and interesting ones, and I don’t say that just because they’ve used one of my photos in the past.

Ik Hou Van Utrecht/I Love Utrecht: This is a new site, but it looks like it is going to be quite interesting. It has information in Dutch, English, and French, and includes links to numerous other news sites, in addition to what I’m posting here. It’s definitely worth exploring.

Dichtbij: This site isn’t just for Utrecht, but it does feature an extensive section about Utrecht and Leidsche Rijn, covering news, sports, food, lifestyle and more.

Utrecht.Nieuws: This site features a variety of news and event information, as well as a guide with links to a variety of resources.

ExpatDesk Utrecht: Utrecht finally has an Expat Desk. It’s only just started this month, but they do seem to be adding more information. If you’re going to be moving here soon or are recently arrived, the site may prove quite useful, particularly as an addendum to the Gemeente Utrecht website.

Speaking of the Gemeente page, did you know that you can have your own photos considered for use on the site’s homepage? They have a photo group on Flickr where you can submit photos for consideration. If they choose your photo, it will be used on the site for a week. In fact, one of my photos was up there last week. You can find out more information and see past photos (mine is the street organ photo by indigo_jones) on the gemeente’s website.

Celebrating Utrecht

There’s a lot going on in Utrecht this weekend. Here are a few highlights of some of the bigger events.

Roman Walls [Day 126/365]
Utrecht is celebrating its 890th birthday tomorrow. It was 2 June 1122 when keizer Hendrik V (Emperor Henry V) granted official cityhood to Utrecht. Of course, the city has been around in one form or another for much longer. You can see some of the 3D depictions of what part of the city looked like if you click on this link.

To celebrate this anniversary, there will be a variety of festivities tomorrow for Stadsdag (City Day). Starting at 10 a.m., there will be tours, special programs and performances and much more. You can see the full program listing on the official website. I’m still trying to work out which events to go to, such as the tour of the Buurkerk clock tower and the Domcarrillion concert. There’s also a lot of stuff going on at the Utrechts Archief (archives), so hopefully the weather will cooperate!

To go along with the look back at Utrecht in the past, you might want to check out this documentary that the RTV Utrecht channel aired recently. Even if you can’t understand the Dutch, you might be interested in seeing video of the Domplein area, which I post frequently, including in both of these photos.

On Sunday, it’s time for another Culturele Zondag (Cultural Sunday). This month’s theme is dance, with all sorts of dance styles being represented by professionals and amateurs alike. Throughout the city, there will be performances in shops, museums, theaters, and even on the street. In fact, Voorstraat will be the site of a street festival, with dancing, live music, DJs, and special tours.

Finally, on Sunday, there’s also the latest edition of De Streekmarkt on Twijnstraat. This outdoor market features some of the best of organic and local food items. The next one isn’t held until September, so you might want to be sure to check it out this month to see what special summer items are on hand.

Cultural Integration

We frequently watch BBC’s program called Coast, which explores Great Britain’s coastlines, along with those of other nearby countries. One episode focused on the Netherlands, but I missed that episode when it first aired and only recently tracked it down. Watching it this afternoon, I realized that although my Dutch is still limited, my cultural integration has definitely expanded.

The program featured a short piece on fierljeppen, which I’ve written about before. I recognized it immediately, and soon realized that I even recognized one of the athletes! Sure enough, I looked through my photos from the event we went to last year and found the guy in the video, Jaco van Groot. How’s that for integration! Not only did I immediately know what sport they were doing, but I even recognized the athlete.
Setting Up

In another segment of the show, there was a Dutchman used as a local guide during a visit to Scheveningen. (They mispronounced it in the voiceover, something which could have gotten you shot during WWII when the name was used by the resistance as a test to prove that the person actually was Dutch and not a Nazi infiltrator.) While at the beachside town, they enjoyed some raw herring. As I watched and listened to the local, I soon realized that I did, in fact, recognize him, as well! His name is Philip Walkate, and I recognized him from his humourous bits about the Dutch inburgeringscurse (integration course).

And, of course, there was the bit about Dutch cuisine. As they commentators discussed the popularity of Indian cuisine in Britain, I knew immediately that they were going to be talking about the popularity of Indonesian cuisine here in the Netherlands. I knew that meant one of two things, saté or the broader rijsttafel. They went with the rijsttafel, a meal that goes well with my love of a selection of lots of smaller dishes.

I was ridiculously thrilled to recognize the athlete and comedian and to realize that I was very familiar with much of the information they provided, although the story about Texel island up north during WWII was something new and fascinating. My cultural integration is moving right along.

Utrecht As Art

The art scene in Utrecht is thriving and active, with numerous groups and individual artists doing their thing, be it traditional canvas painting or guerrilla knitting.

The CBKU, a non-profit art organization located on the Plompetorenacht, is active in promoting art of all types by up-and-coming artists in Utrecht. They’ve got Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and they’ve got an online magazine, called Lucy. I came across Lucy today while following a link to an article about a recent gathering of artists who went out and made the city a little bit more artistic one recent Saturday night.

While looking through the e-zine, I came across what will be a recurring series: Zicht op Utrecht (View of Utrecht) by Nina Mathijsen. Every two weeks, the magazine will be posting aquarelle images of Utrecht, particularly its urban transitory construction architecture, as seen by illustrator and typographer Nina Mathijsen. The first of the series is posted above. I’m looking forward to following her interpretation of the city as it changes. What is shown in this first image is the area around Vredenburg, where the music hall is being rebuilt, and where one of the ring canals is returning. That whole part of town is a mass of construction, with the train station and the Hoog Catharijne shopping center soon to be joining in on the revamping. Tower cranes abound, giving tall competition to the Domtoren.

Celebrating the Sunset

On the Way to Oudewater
Friday night we went to Oudewater for a delicious dinner with friends. On the way there, I couldn’t help but notice the sunset. I don’t get to see much of one nowadays, because of the buildings surrounding us, so I really enjoyed seeing this beautiful mix of clouds and glowing sun. It also made me think of this blog post by Aledys Ver, with the lovely idea of viewing a sunset as a performance: cheering when it’s good and demanding your money back when it’s bad. I think this one definitely deserved a cheer.
Burning Through

Mix and Match

This is a grab bag of a posting; random things that have crossed my mind but most aren’t enough for a whole post to themselves. So, in no particular order …
House Made of Boat
Kiwidutch has an interesting post up about house boats (woonboten) in Amsterdam, so I thought I’d post a photo of one of the house boats near us here in Utrecht. They’re not as common here as in Amsterdam, but there are a couple of them around.

Irish Pub
Today is St. Patrick’s Day. Not being Irish, it’s not a big deal to me, but I figured it was worth a posting on Trippist, since we’ve got two Irish pubs here in town. Hopefully, they don’t turn their beer green, though. That’s always seemed like an abomination to me. I knew I had taken a photo of Mick O’Connells in the past, but it turns out I hadn’t uploaded it to Flickr, so I spent a lot of time digging through my photo files to find it. I could have sworn I’d also taken a photo of O’Leary’s Pub at some point, but damned if I can find it. So, since I spent so much time finding this photo, I figured I’d share it here, too. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to any of you with Irish connections.

Finally, if you have any interest in the Netherlands, you really should read the blog Amy in NL. She always comes up with really fascinating topics. One of the most recent ones is on the Dutch connection with Japan, a surprisingly old connection. It turns out the Japanese word for coffee is derived from the Dutch word koffe as a result of this long-standing connection. She also includes some links to relief sites to help after the horrible disaster that continues to unfold.

I would also like to recommend that you stop by the Handmade Europe shop on Etsy right now, since they have a Europe for Charity shop set up with all proceeds going to Japan via Architecture for Humanity.

Biru the Chow Chow

The internet is a wonderful thing. A quick Google search and voila! I had the name and artist for this sculpture that stands down at the lower tip of the Utrecht binnenstad (city center), just down the street from the Centraal Museum at the Servaasbrug. The statue is named Biru, after the dog owned by the artist, Joop Hekman. This one is a copy of the original, which is part of a larger grouping in Enschede. The artist himself originally hails from Utrecht and he, perhaps not surprisingly, had contact with Gerrit Rietveld. It was through Rietveld that he was eventually commissioned to create the statue/fountain that stands in front of the Stadsschouwburg (city theater) here in Utrecht! Somehow I’d never found out the name or artist of the fountain, despite seeing it regularly. He has a few other outdoor sculptures here in town, which I’m now curious to go see.

Countdown to Pot

In just over a week, The Phoenix Foundation will be kicking off their European Tour at the Paradiso in Amsterdam. You can still buy tickets to the show, and I really think you should. They’re from New Zealand after all, so they don’t get out and about quite as much as some of us would like. You should make the most of this opportunity now, while you can, even if you’re not as familiar with their music. If it sounds like something you might like, go ahead and seize the day! You’ll be kicking yourself otherwise! Really!

If you can’t make it to the show in Amsterdam, or more likely if you want to go to multiple shows, here’s more info on their current tour dates and locations.

25/01/11: Instore @ Rough Trade East, London info

27/01/11: Paradiso, Amsterdam – Buy Tix
28/01/11: Botanique, Brussels – Buy Tix
03/02/11: Oran Mor, Glasgow (w/The Go!Team) – Buy Tix
04/02/11: Liquid Room, Edinburgh (w/The Go!Team) – Buy Tix
05/02/11: Lemon Tree, Aberdeen (w/The Go!Team) – Buy Tix
06/02/11: The Cluny, Newcastle (w/The Go!Team) – Buy Tix
09/02/11 – The Hope – Brighton, UK – Buy Tix
10/02/11 – The Louisiana – Bristol, UK – Buy Tix
16/02/11: La Fleche d’Or, Paris – Buy Tix
17/02/11: Le Bleu Lezard, Lausanne – Buy Tix
18/02/11: Komplex, Zurich – Buy Tix
22/02/11: Comet, Berlin – Buy Tix
23/02/11: Studio 672, Cologne – Buy Tix
24/02/11: Beatlemania, Hamburg – Buy Tix
26/02/11: The Borderline, London – SOLD OUT… stay tuned!
(more info and links on their website)

Their latest album, Buffalo, has been getting some rave, five-star reviews in the British music press, which is saying something! They’ve also been getting some play on various UK radio shows, including Jarvis Cocker and Guy Garvey (Elbow frontman)! And hey! Buffalo is going to be released in the UK/Europe on Monday, 24 January! You can pre-order through sites like Amazon and such. You could also probably pick up a copy at the show. *nudge nudge*

In the meantime, here’s a cool video for their song Pot: