Bones, Bottles and Body Parts

Opening Times
We stumbled across what may be Utrecht’s most unusual and fantastic store while out on Sunday. Those are, indeed, anatomical models of eyeballs and other body parts that you see in the photo. Van Leest Antiques (Mariaplaats 45) specializes in scientific and medical instruments, along with other related items. As you can see, they have plenty of anatomical models of various flora and fauna, but they also have scientific machines, including a Faraday cage and a “Leyden jar for a Tesla preparation”. They also have some wonderful medicine chests and apothecary jars and even skeletons and fluid-preserved specimens. It’s historic, informative, fascinating, creepy and so much more!

Anatomy Antiques
I had no idea this shop was here, but I’m thrilled to know it exists! In a world of chain retail outlets taking over, and smaller independent shops like the lovely Koek & Chocolade closing its doors here in Utrecht, it’s wonderful to know that something to unusual and niche is still here. Even if you can’t visit the shop yourself, do check out the website. It’s in both Dutch and English and is fantastic to click through all the amazing offerings. There are also better photos of the inside of the store. Unfortunately, I was limited to a few photos of the front window heavy with reflections of the surrounding area.
Unusual Window Display

Van Leest

Take a Seat

Creative Seating
The other week, while walking through the Stadhuisplein (City Hall Square), I found myself doing a double take when I saw this chair seat bolted onto a tree stump. It seems like it could be quite comfy, although you have to hope any action is happening in that one direction. Still, it does leave quite a lot of ground to survey. I’m not sure when the tree was cut down. I know it was there in 2009, since you can see it here just behind the little caravan in this photo:
I’m pretty sure the tree was still there at least in September of last year, based on a few other photos. Regardless, someone has had an innovative approach to adding more seating to the square. I can’t help but think that only a very tall Dutch person would think to add a seat to a tree stump that tall — at least not without adding a few “steps”!

There are numerous reasons for why it’s there. It could be part of the night of creativity that took place recently, during which a variety of creative alterations were done to sites around town, including the renegade knitting. Or, it could be an early setup for the Festival a/d Werf taking place now. Or it could have been done by a random person, including any of the squatters who live in the building in the background. That, by the way, is an interesting story worth a separate post.
Sitters or Squatters?
No matter the reason, it’s one of those little creative things here in the city that I can’t help but love. Be it art, protest, humor, or just a nice spot to sit, it certainly keeps things interesting!

Fantastic Flamingos

I’ve seen this a few times in the past week and figured I ought to share it, even if it has nothing to do with Utrecht or the Netherlands.  But really, a blog with the word flamingo in it really should be excused for going off topic in this case. The photo was taken by Robert Haas (National Geographic/Caters News Agency), and shows flamingos in roughly the shape of a flamingo, in Yucatan, Mexico. A rare, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime shot!

Certainly quite a bit different from the weather we’re having here now. We got snow yesterday and it’s cold enough today for it to keep hanging around, with more expected to join it tomorrow, from the looks of things. The cats are dreaming of warmer, flamingo-inhabited climates as they suck every bit of heat possible out of the radiators.

Nederlands Film Festival Festivities

Nederlands Film Festival
The annual Nederlands Film Festival has returned. Every year, for a week and a half, Utrecht is overrun with film makers and film buffs as a variety of films are shown at cinemas and theaters around the city. I’ve not gone to see any of the films yet, but I always look forward to the arrival of the huge Gouden Kalf (golden calf) statue’s arrival in the grounds in front of the Stadsschouwburg. The golden calf is the symbol of the film festival and a miniature version is given out to award recipients. It’s essentially the Dutch version of the Oscar.
Golden Achievement
They literally roll out the red carpet at many of the theaters around town, and this year they’ve rolled out the red bikes, as well. At various spots around town, you’ll see a bicycle painted red and with theater names and directional arrows — along with the calf symbol — to direct visitors to the event locations. As you’ll see in the next photo, this bike is directing visitors to the City Theater on Voorstraat, and to the Stadsschouwburg off Lucasbolwerk.
Go By Bike
This evening, as we were relaxing on the sofa, watching the news about the austerity protests taking place in cities around Europe, we suddenly saw large groups of people walking past our own window. Was there an austerity protest going on right in front of us? An ironic one, considering the marchers seemed to be wearing golden cloaks? Nope! It was some sort of parade related to the film festival!
Golden Parade
I’m not exactly sure what the parade was for, but it might have something to do with the Jubilee Evening festivities taking place tonight. I found a mention of a parade of fashion artist Aziz Bekkaoui, but I’m not sure they literally meant a parade. Either way, there are music, art and film celebrations at the Stadsschouwburg tonight, and that seemed to be the direction in which they were heading.
Film Festival Parade
They were also singing as they walked along, and I realized that I knew the song! It’s a Dutch classic, although I admit that I know best the version that was performed at the first Nacht Van Het Vieze Lied (night of the dirty song) I attended. The song was Zing, Vecht, Huil, Bid, Lach, Werk en Bewonder (Sing, fight, cry, pray, laugh, work and admire) by Ramses Shaffy. I really do like this song, so for your listening pleasure, here it is!

Bus Stop Art

Tableau [Day 243/365]

“You’re travelling through another dimension. A dimension, not only of sign and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Next stop, The Twilight Zone.” – Rod Serling

That intro used for one of the seasons of The Twilight Zone seems appropriate for this unusual scene facing anyone going through the center of Utrecht today. Thanks to Kerryanne, I was made aware of this bus stop on the journey to wonder or madness and knew I had to head over and see for myself.
Mind Trip

There are some amusing details throughout, including the uneven dresser, the bottles of beer, and the pictures of the Dutch national football team. You may find yourself thinking of classic student dorm rooms, and if you look more closely to the advert on the side of the bus stop, you’ll start to get the idea that this is just some elaborate advertising on the part of Rabobank, trying to get new students arriving in town to open accounts with them. Still, as far as advertising goes, it’s certainly entertaining and eye-catching.

A Few Photos

I’m glad I thought to take the camera with me today when we went out to run some errands. Despite the weather being cold and grey, I thought I might be able to get some interesting shots. Most of the shots do look cold and grey, but my persistence paid off when we were crossing over to Voorstraat and saw this:


A few other semi-decent shots of the day …