Walking around the old city of Utrecht is a fascinating experience, even if the weather is not the best you can get. One of the classic tourist attractions is the old Dom tower. This is the only part left from the old cathedral, but that is not what interests us today.
The cathedral's nave was torn down in 1674 by North Sea Winds (remember Cyril last year and it will not sound improbable). Only the tower and the transept remained. So today there is a big gap between the tower and what passes for the cathedral in these days. Filled with trees, in the summer it must be a lovely place to walk, enjoying the surroundings. This winter it is an eerie landscape of green tree-trunks (a result of the moss that covers them), looking strikingly otherworldly against the earthly and reddish hues of the chancel.
The impression that stays with you is of a surreal painting, where, instead of green leaves, you have green trunks and branches. And with that sense, comes another: one of isolation, loneliness, sadness. Despite the few people walking by (or on bicycles), I felt completely deserted there...
The tower is 112m tall, with 465 steps taking you up to see the view, and it is the tallest church spire of Holland. Its mechanical carillon has a huge repertoire of tunes that can be heard through the centre's cobbled streets, but I think only the tourists find them charming (try living next to it, playing a deafening melody each half hour and you will find out why).
You can go under the tower to the other side of it through a small tunnel at the base. I did not have the time to climb the stairs but will do in the future!
Walking away from the tower, the view from the canal is sublime... actually the tower serves as orientation so that one does not get lost in the narrow streets of the old city.