A Travellerspoint blog

Copenhagen

Making my mark

semi-overcast 19 °C

I'm participating in a conference organized by the Copenhagen Business School. The School is located in a few modern buildings, just outside of the city center. I have just heard that my chemotherapy is only partially successful, so it is hard for me to concentrate and enjoy the meeting. Still, I enjoy being amongst a group of enthusiastic young scholars and Copenhagen is, as always, pleasant and friendly.

Copenhagen Business School

Copenhagen Business School


CBS - inside view

CBS - inside view


CBS - another inside view

CBS - another inside view

On the last day of my trip, I have time just to wander around. In the street of my hotel is the Copenhagen Opera as well as a small theatre. I'm struck by a strange mozaik at the entrance of the 1920s building. It is not really beautiful, but remarkable all the same.

Staerekassen mozaik

Staerekassen mozaik

When I stroll along the harbour, I pass a small local garden of scented plants and herbs. The neighborhood is responsible for this initiative, and it gives the otherwise desolate place a nice feel.

Copenhagen Harbour

Copenhagen Harbour


As Danish as it gets ...

As Danish as it gets ...


Scented garden

Scented garden

I also visit the King's Gardens. This sounds rather grand for a smallish park with an even smaller castle. It's noon when I'm there, but a Brit who lives in Copenhagen just told me he was shocked by the public drunkenness in these kind of parks in the late afternoon and evening. When I return to the airport by metro that same afternoon, I see what he means: hundreds of youth with beer cans are on their way to the beach; they're loud and friendly, but it is still remarkable that they can travel intoxicated. Obviously, nobody cares, at least not anymore ...

King's Gardens

King's Gardens

King's Castlelette

King's Castlelette

Just off the city center, there is an interesting small quarter with yellow houses. They seem to be from the 1920s, and may well be built by factories for their labour force. Probably an early typical Danish trace of social-democracy? Now they house families with lots of small children as well as students.

Typical Danish?

Typical Danish?

Posted by PvanHam 04.06.2010 18:02 Archived in Denmark Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

Bonn

The art of remembering

rain 17 °C

A good friend invited me back to Bonn, just for a few days. I take the train from The Hague Central Station - it's only a four-hour journey. Relaxing in the ICE is so much more comfortable than the hassle of airports. Although it's a large and heavy book, I want to finish David van Reybrouck's Congo, een geschiedenis (De Bezige Bij, 2010) and take it with me on the train. The book offers a detailed history of Congo, and as a Flemish author, Van Reybrouck carefully weaves his own Belgian perspective into the troubled past, present anf future of that country. I hope it will be translated into other languages soon.

Van Reybrouck: Congo

Van Reybrouck: Congo

I give a lecture and seminar at Bonn University, and have sufficient time to see the city. I have been in Bonn several times, but hardly had time as a tourist. I decide to visit the Museumsmeile, which offers a wide choice of museums all within the stretch of a mile or so. I'm particularly struck by the Haus der Geschichte der BRD, a musuem which seems mostly visited by loud schoolchildren, all literally walking through the history of their own country. The museum offers a visual spectacle of the history of Germany from the end of World War II till today. I also visit the exibition Wir gegen uns ("We against ourselves"), which offers a nice account of the confrontations between the BRD and DDR on the pitch (soccer, ski jumping, athletics, etc.)

Museumsmeile, Bonn

Museumsmeile, Bonn


Wir gegen uns

Wir gegen uns

It's clear that in our visual age this is the way to both entertain and educate kids, and I like it as well ...! I have been in East-Germany several times, and the strange antics of the Cold War comes alive again before my eyes. It's all very well done. I remember that the European Union wants to do something similar for the history of Europe. Also with the same objective: visualize the history and identity of Europe for young people. I'm sure they'll come to Bonn to see what the possibilities are!

Bonn is a very layed-back, provincial city, with a lot of students, bicycles, parks, and references to Beethoven (its best-known citizen). It thrives on the many huge international conferences whiich are held as a kind of compensation a decade ago when the German federal ministries were relocated to Berlin. Hotels are usually fully booked as a result, and the city has nicer restaurants than you would expect for its modest size. Anyway, I offer a few snapshots of the city, to show how it looks like.

Monument

Monument


Grafitti

Grafitti


Want some coffee ...?

Want some coffee ...?

Or a book ...?

Or a book ...?

To close, this is a picture of the Cologne railway station, where I made a stop-over. I especially liked the huge glass ad for 4711 cologne. I just wonder whether they have to pay for it? It seems to have been there forever, and turned itself into an integral part of the architecture.

Cologne and Koeln

Cologne and Koeln

Posted by PvanHam 04.06.2010 14:14 Archived in Germany Tagged train_travel Comments (0)

Kinderdijk

Cradle to grave

semi-overcast 14 °C

I was born in Kinderdijk, a Dutch hamlet famous for its many windmills (19, all in all). The name derives from an apocryphical story of the St. Elizabeth flood of 1421, when a cat was found on a wooden cradle on the water, keeping afloat a sleeping baby. I've always loved that story as a child.

Windmills at Kinderdijk

Windmills at Kinderdijk


CIMG2145.jpgCIMG2144.jpgCIMG2143.jpgCIMG2142.jpgCIMG2140.jpgCIMG2139.jpgCIMG2141.jpg

When strolling along the water, I pass my birth house. It has a nice, whitewashed facade and is built against the dyke. From the back of the house you have a view over the Molenkade with all its mills; the other side of the dyke used to be the IHC Smit shipyard, where my father spent his working life building dredgers.

My birth house (the whitewashed house on the left)

My birth house (the whitewashed house on the left)

CIMG2133.jpgCIMG2135.jpgCIMG2137.jpg

I'm here only for a few days visiting my parents, relaxing and perhaps bicycling a bit. I'm still exhausted from my therapy and at times I just feel ill. But since my parents have these wonderfully electrically-assisted bicycles, I've decided to go for a ride along the tourist route and see all the windmills. I haven't been here for ages, but I must have walked, skated and cycled these few miles many hundreds of times a few decades ago. It's a great shame I seem to have forgotten about all this: the iconic Dutch landscape with too much water, the sun and wind in your face, the many coots and great crested grebes playing their games under water so you never know where and when they emerge again. The brown common cattails we put in our mouths as kids, pretending to smoke sigars. It's all right there ...

Although I'm with my parents, these images remind me of my grandfather who died in 1987. After his funeral, I never bothered to visit his grave and have never seen his tombstone - I really don't know why I never went back after the funeral. I decide to go to the cemetary in Papendrecht, just a few miles up the river. It isn't as shocking as I thought it would be: seeing my own name engraved with painfully clear dates marking the beginning and end of life. I was named after him, and he loved me dearly. If anything, I'm like my grandfather. But he had a happy, long life, despite two World Wars. My grandma died just one year after he passed away - she had nothing to keep her alive for.

FotoOpagraf.jpg

I'm home again when I write this, but my thoughts are still at Kinderdijk. It's all hard to forget, and I don't even want to.

Posted by PvanHam 05.05.2010 17:55 Archived in Netherlands Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

Garden

A journey close to home

semi-overcast 19 °C

This is the first entry to my blog The Magic Mountain, which obviously refers to Thomas Mann's famous book of 1924. Like the main characters of the book - who are all seriously ill and seem to bide their time waiting for things to happen - I have been diagnosed with the dreaded disease of our times. Not tuberculosis, but in my case cancer. I just returned from hospital this week after intensive chemotherapy.

What kept me going these last months was, amongst others, a capacity to take refuge to all the wonderful places I've been, or still want to visit. As the chemo was doing its work, I was far away, swimming in the wonderful Barmsee, close to Kruen, Germany.

seen_barmsee_01.jpg

Or on the deck of a boat watching the Kralendijk marina of Bonaire, a place I've never been to but obviously hanker after. Which is why I start this blog - as therapy and inspiration. And as a way to escape, both physically and mentally. Since I am too tired to travel for the time being, I'll start close to home: our garden.

90_CIMG2122.jpgCIMG2119.jpg

We live in The Hague (Holland), close to the beach, in a wonderfully renovated old house. From the veranda on the 3rd floor, our small city-garden looks classically symmetrical, full with blossoming trees (pear, apple and fig), shrubs and singing birds. Today is the first really sunny day of Spring and sitting outside for a few hours I can finally clear my head. My senses seem to be more sensitive than I can remember, and I hear, see and even smell more intensely than ever before. For me, it's a start. I'm still inhabiting My Magic Mountain, but hope to leave it as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I'll continue this blog, reporting on journeys close to home, as well as occassional travels further afield. In a few months, I hope to be visiting Bonn and Copenhagen. Next week, I'll spend some days with my parents in Kinderdijk, where I was born. So if you look forward to some windmills, I'll keep you posted!

Posted by PvanHam 24.04.2010 12:49 Archived in Netherlands Tagged armchair_travel Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 4 of 4) Page [1]