Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A fleeting weekend in Utrecht

Why are weekends fleeting? Someone needs to get serious and start lobbying Parliament the new 3-day weekend rule. I could use some really.

Anyhow, just like the tone of my first paragraph, last weekend was a lazy one. There were a number of open action items in my agenda left undone, i.e., visit to a village; buy a pair of trainers; check out a castle. But since I was not feeling well and couldn’t move around much, I didn’t accomplish anything. However, I managed to successfully glue my bum into the seat I am now sitting on, with my laptop in front. Well, that was Sunday.

Saturday was another story. It was a bit active.

We were quite busy, which is a regular thing for us during Saturdays anyway. We did some household chores, went food shopping and more. Honestly, life would have been convenient in this part of the world if only shops open until 8 in the evening. Sigh – I know. I am wishing for the moon and the stars.

Nevertheless, living near to the town center has its advantages that I should be thankful for.

Vismarkt, one of the old quarters in Utrecht.

I made dinner early at around 6. For many Dutch households, 6PM is the normal time to gather as a family and eat dinner together. We had tortellini, vegetable mix, grilled chicken, and feta tomatoes. It wasn’t a heavy meal as each portion was small. Having eaten dinner earlier than usual, and seeing a promise of a dry evening, we decided to stretch our leg muscles and went for a walk - a walk to Utrecht center.

Empty streets and canals in Utrecht.

We had coffee in our usual café hangout, and I had my plentiful dosage of reading materials piled up before me on top of the small round table outside the café. It was a very nice evening, fresh, and more importantly, there is still light. From across where we were sitting, we could see the busy open-air terraces in the square, the silhouette reflections of the parasols on the ground, and the flickering of lighted candles on each table signaling the coming of dusk.

I switched my attention to the magazines in front of me. The headlines were: the nouveau rich in the Netherlands; showbiz gossips: Angelina Jolie has anorexia; KPN is again in the buying mode; the credit crunch in the stock market; and the new amazing diet discovery has finally arrived Holland - detoxykall.

After coffee we did a little bit of wandering in the center.

A typical thing I do when wandering around, well, we all do anyway, is inspecting nicely decorated shop windows. This particular shop window caught my curious eye:

They are not dildos. They are plastic banana containers called, Banana Guard.

I could hear many passersby hovering behind me and talking eagerly about the hanging, in different colors, plastic bananas. Aha – I chuckled, I definitely am not the only one fascinated by it - thank you dear god.

Merchandising lesson for the day: Bananas are great pulls for your shop window, lol.
Okay, realistically speaking, as a consumer, would you buy a box for your banana? I wouldn’t. Thus is my fascination for these interesting inventions.

Later, we ran into this cozy cafe-pub area just right after Vismarkt. We went in and had a drink.

The lights are beautiful on film. This area in town is suitable for the gen-xers crowd (30 and up).

Dutchman had the usual Dutch tap beer and I ordered a Blond Leffe. I think I am the only person in the bar who ordered a stronger than usual beer.

The Dutch are not haute beer drinkers. They prefer their homegrown plain Jane tap beers (Pils in Dutch): Amstel, Jupiler, Brand, Heineken, Grolsch -- these just don’t work for my tongue and throat anymore. They taste bland. After the Scotland trip, I think I have become a new-born beer woman, ha-ha.

Dutchman was teasing me for the rest of the evening. “Hey there, beer connoisseur...”

The walk home though was refreshing. We should do more walking.

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