Flowers, flags and sunshine
We are (finally!) enjoying some splendid summer days here in the lowlands, and I’m struck more and more by the way that when the sun comes out in any meaningful way, the Dutch people flock to the beaches on the Zuid Holland coast of the Netherlands in their thousands. What this means (apart from a sudden disproportionate amount of sunburnt people) is that the cities and towns that they flow out of for these beach day trips are noticeably quieter and less crowded. Remembering that the Netherlands is a relatively small country, with fantastic public transport links, I’m reflecting on the fact that today my various commitments took me to three Dutch cities in one day, which seems quite amazing – but this really is par for the course here in the Netherlands for a lot of people. However, after a day connecting between Leiden, Utrecht and Den Haag, my favourite time of the day was a beautiful walk around the medieval city centre of Utrecht. I was there in the mid-morning, and given the rush away by many of those on holidays from the city to the coast to take advantage of the beautiful day, there was hardly anyone around. I particularly liked my walk down the long, narrow alleyway-like pedestrian street named Zakkendragerssteeg (steeg essentially means a small lane). I’d walked down this quaint, old-world street when I have been in Utrecht before, but that was late at night in the middle of a freezing winter after a night out – not the best time to appreciate the charm of the street.
The light I saw it in today (it’s so narrow, you can easily miss it – I just happened to remember to walk down it after glancing it by chance out the corner of my eye!) certainly made me realise that the Zakkendragersteeg is a special little slice of Utrecht – with cobbles under your feet, old buildings all around you (no doubt full of history), flowers, flags and the glow of warm sunshine on my face, walking in this ancient, gezellig place felt like a quintessential piece of Dutch zomertijd.
Photo by CIA today in Utrecht; quality is low due to only having a phone camera to hand, but hopefully the photo captures the feeling in the Zakkendragersteeg well, nonetheless.