Having left Utrecht in early March, and come back in early July, I feel as though I have returned to a city transformed. Holland feels like an utterly different country in the summertime – the blue sky, the late-setting sun, the riot of green that has erupted along the canals, the café culture that has spilled onto the sidewalks – all of these changes have converged to give grey, wintry Utrecht a facelift and I’ve been welcomed home by a radiant summer beauty.
We’ve been taking long evening walks after dinner around the city and I’m discovering a new city. Tonight we walked along the Oudegracht canal, strolling along the walkway at water level (which is accessible from the street-level by steep stairs). Boats ambled past on the water, carrying parties of people drinking glasses of wine and eating canapés; couples who live by the canal were eating their supper al fresco on dinner tables they had moved outside; on the bridges above the waterway, pavement cafés bristled with people. On our way back home, we passed a park and it was full of young people – sunning, drinking, picnicking, slack-roping, dancing, talking, and rejoicing in all the magic of summer.