The Secret Words of Walls and Windows

Forbidden to Forbid
I’ve posted before about the random bits of wall art that pop up around the city. However, not all of these bits of creativity are pictorial. There are often simple thoughts expressed in words; some are philosophical, while others simply put a smile on your face.

Sunday morning, I came across the chalked thought above: Forbidden To Forbid. Make of that what you will. There are plenty of interpretations open.

Seeing it reminded me of some window writing I saw on Lange Nieuwstraat. The two windows had simple sentences written on the bottom. If their purpose was to make passers-by smile, they succeeded, at least with me.
Hoe gaat het met jou?
This one reads, “Hoe gaat het met jou?”, which is the Dutch way of saying, “How are you?”.

The second window says, “Ik vind jou speciaal”, which means “I find you special/I think you’re special”. You’re not so bad yourself!
Ik ook

I love these random little finds throughout the city. Even if the windows are simply marketing, it’s a nice, creative touch that is positive and friendly. We can all use a bit of that!

A Hill

A Hill
Utrecht — and much of the Netherlands — is a flat place. Not a lot of hills or mountains, so sometimes I feel like I can tell you exactly where to find any hills or slight inclines that may exist in the city center. Most, if not all, are man-made.

One of the interesting things about most of these hills, though, is that they represent the location of some of the old city walls that protected the old city. In fact, this particular hill really is a leftover from the old walls. A small segment of the wall still exists just behind where I was standing when I took this photo.

Resurrecting Walls

Hadrian's Wall
We went to see Eddie Izzard perform his Stripped show in Amsterdam on Friday. Hilarious as always! His take on the Bayeux Tapestries was brilliant: front-line journalism! In one of his past shows, he did a joke (for a US audience) about being from Europe, “where all the history comes from.” Living here in Utrecht, I feel like I’m constantly reminded of that line and I appreciate it very much. I love living in a city with centuries of history to be explored.

For example, the earliest dates of Utrecht date back to around 40 AD, when the Romans built a fortress here, after finally gaining some inroads into this region. The site of their fortress is where the Dom tower and cathedral now stand. There are remains — now underground — of the walls that surrounded the fort. To signify those, iron plates, inscribed with various Roman walls and boundaries have been placed along the outlines of where the fortress walls stood. Special LED lights have also been placed (as you can see in the photo above) to add a bit of atmospherics, especially in low light. Occasional puffs of mist are also released at various times of day. Above is the one on Servetstraat just in front of the Domtoren. There’s another one on Domstraat. This link will perhaps give a better feel for how they’re laid out.

This is Servetstraat, the street where I took my picture. The display is so unintrusive that you really can’t see it unless you’re right up on it. It runs the width of the street, just behind the group of girls with their bicycles.