Sunday in Yellow

Autumn on the Oudegracht

Not much to say today. The weather has been chilly but nice here in Utrecht and the autumn colours are still going strong. Pippo and I went for a long walk this morning and I spent the afternoon making erwtensoep (split pea soup) for tonight’s dinner. The time change last night has thrown us all off, though. We all still woke early and now the afternoon is dragging. Pippo, who is a creature of habit and schedule, is seeming a bit discombobulated that we’re not keeping to schedule.

For all of you dealing with the possibility of Hurricane Sandy in the US, I hope you’re all safe and don’t get any damage or inconvenience. One thing I don’t miss is the threat of major storms. May your waters be as calm as the Oudegracht.

Paddling Down the Oudegracht

Sailing With Sinterklaas

Sinterklaas Intocht

It’s that time of year again. Sinterklaas made his annual trip by steamboat from Spain to start his festivities here in the Netherlands. All across the country yesterday, Sinterklaas multiplied like Tribbles and made his grand entrance up and down canals, ports and rivers.

Sinterklaas

In Utrecht, he made his journey up the Oudegracht canal before disembarking at the Weerdesluis to then proceed on his trusty steed, Amerigo. From there they paraded through the center of town, heading to the Domplein and other locations, strewing pepernoten everywhere he and Zwarte Pieten went.

Ta Da!

For the next few weeks, until December 5, there will be a run on carrots and chocolate letters as kids and parents make the nightly exchange: kids leaving carrots in their shoes for Amerigo, and parentsSinterklaas leaving behind chocolate letters, pepernoten, and other small treats for the kids.

Pepernoten A.U.B

I keep meaning to buy some klompen (wooden shoes) for our furry kids to set out for Sinterklaas. After all, human kids aren’t the only ones that go see Sinterklaas’ arrival.
For Furry Kids, Too

It’s a good thing I went on foot yesterday to see the arrival. The city was packed and traffic was a nightmare. Parking was particularly tough. Even the city’s many squares, both small and large, were converted into parking lots for the day.
Extra Parking

Parking

Rising Waters

Testing
Yesterday, as we were leaving De Streekmarkt, we noticed that one of the drawbridges was being raised. Moving closer to the canal to get a better view, we soon realized that there was no tall ship coming through, they just seemed to be testing the bridge. Oh well, it was a nice reminder for me of the drawbridge we used to cross to get to my grandparents’ house on Daytona Beach Shores. The sunny weather and the quality of the light, with the water nearby, had certainly brought Florida to mind for me a few times that day.

As we were walking back home along the canal, we reached another bridge, this time a bridge we needed to cross to get home. As we were standing on it, discussing the stepped seating nearby, a warning bell went off and the barriers came down as at a railroad crossing. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of the bridge and had to quickly limbo my way under the barriers! The next thing we knew, that bridge was also being raised. This time, there was a boat coming, but it was a simple motor boat, too small to need the bridge raised. We soon realized that they seemed to be working their way down the canal, testing the drawbridges.
Lente Dag

I was reminded of the joke I made to Invader Stu last week when he wondered if there were any bridges in all of the Netherlands that didn’t have bikes parked on them. I figured maybe the drawbridges might be free of bikes, at least on the move-y bit. It turns out I was right! Of course, I was also right in that bikes were locked up to the parts of the bridge that remained stationary. Parking is at a premium!

It was a beautiful day, so we decided to stop and enjoy the sunshine on the steps. We also got a bit of a show, because the boat that had just passed, was entering into one of the locks. In the photo above, you can see them docked for a while as the water slowly rises. As they were tying up, we got to watch the lockmaster (?) close up the gate they had just entered.
Closing the Gates
Once that northern gate was closed, he headed down to the next gate where his “office” is located and took care of whatever needed to be done on that end. We could see the water bubbling away and got to see certain parts of the lock area eventually covered by the rising water.
Waiting for the Water
Locking the Lock
It was fun watching the whole process (although it was also a bit slow and I gave up taking photos). I’ve never actually watched it all before, so it was nice to finally see all of this machinery in action. Not a bad way to spend some time in the sun!

Woordenboek Woensdag: Zeilen

Plompetorengracht [Day 116/365]
Now that the weather has turned so nice, all of the canals around town are filled with boten (boats), from small kayaks to larger motorboats. With that in mind, I thought I’d look up the word for sailing. It’s times like this that I need help. There are a ton of words for the verb to sail: varen, bevaren, zeilen. Then there are different words for the gerund form, sailing: afvaart, bootreis, vertrek, vertrektijd, zeilsport. It all gets a bit confusing. Looking up each individual word doesn’t particularly help, at least not with my dictionary. I’m hoping someone else will be able to explain if there’s one use that is better than another in certain situations. I’m particularly interested in the right word for describing sailing in a canal, rather than on the high seas.

I did finally remember to look up Plompetorengracht, which is the name of the canal pictured above. From what I gather, it basically translates to Floppy Tower Canal. Even if plomp has some other meaning in this case, floppy tower is more fun to think about. The canal itself is quite old, dating back to around 1392, when it seems to have created along with the Nieuwegracht, the Kromme Nieuwegracht and the Drift canals to help with drainage. At one point, the canal was the headquarters for tradesmen, and around the middle of the 19th century, it was a neighborhood of the nobility. The somewhat grand buildings that line it now are used primarily as offices and the Cathedral Choir school is located there, as well. I think they had an open day recently.

I’ll round out this post with a few more photos of some of the boats you’re liable to see in the canals here in Utrecht.
Tour Boat
Bongo Boat
Grote Boot
Peaceful
Around the Bend
Arts the Beat Doctor