Local Heart, Global Soul

May 6, 2011

Crossing the Water to New York… err no, not THAT New York…

Filed under: Restaurant and Cafe,Reviews,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you look carefully at the very base of the tall buildings in the first photo, you will see a far smaller brown, older style building. It’s the Hotel New York   and it’s one of the Netherlands best known landmark buildings.

After leaving the Euromast, we all pile onto the bus and make our way across the water to the Hotel. The people who have arranged everything so brilliantly today lead us in for our meal… but at the Reception desk there seems to be a problem. We end up waiting over half an hour whilst they try and sort things out.

Amazingly even though our reservation was made six weeks ago (it’s a group of 50 persons after all)  and everything confirmed soon after that, it turns out now that somehow our booking got somehow mistakenly canceled by staff here and another large group is sitting in the  fabulous upstairs area with the great views by the windows over the river junctions that our organisers  thought we had reserved for our group.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After a discussion within the group as to the possibilities of finding another restaurant that could take such a big group at zero notice right at peak dining time, we eventually get a place in one of the back-rooms of the hotel.

Not only is there no view, there are in fact no windows, so the doors leading outside to the backstairs are opened since it’s a very warm evening. (door by the letter “R” of York in the second photo).

There is plenty of street noise because the door opens out to the carpark, and there is what looks like an after-conference party going on next door, but we make the best of it.

Our meal was passable… there was a selection of  two main course items and a dessert, and I had the distinct impression from the meal that the Chefs had been busy doing their best to put something together in a hurry since all the finer details were missing. It certainly didn’t appear to be their fault that they were told of a new large dinner booking with no notice.

It was a shame because this place has a reputation, and the cafe area is well known and patronized for lunches and grand afternoon teas that I have heard are worth making the trip to Rotterdam for.

By the time things are sorted out, and after quite a long wait for our food, it was already dark, so my photos are not great.

Oh well, it was better than spoiling a brilliant day out by going home hungry.

The Hotel New York is an iconic building, it started life as the Head Office of the “de Holland Amerika Lijn” (Holland America Line) and it’s local nickname is the “Grand Old Lady“.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It was built in1883 in the Jugendstil  style (Art Nouveau) ad designed by architect  J. Muller.

In 1977 the head office of the Holland America Line relocated to Seattle (USA), in 1984 the building was put up for sale, and years later it was purchaed (or re-purched?)  in order to turn it into a grand café-restaurant  and hotel.

It opened it’s doors as such on May 5th 1993.

(I do think there was a café of some sort in it between the time of the Holland America Line move and 1993 though because I vaguely remember going past it whilst I was in the city on a visit to the Netherlands in 1988… but my recollection is hazy so I could be mistaken on that bit)

After dinner, we head back to the bus for the drive back to our meeting point in The Hague. It’s  past midnight and Himself and I have had a fabulous brilliant day… Rotterdam Rocks, and we have seen so much to add to our list to come back to.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 5, 2011

Giants Shoot Hoops and Play “Go”?

Filed under: Places and Sights,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You  know I love sculpture and art…

I’m a sucker for architectural detail  on old buildings and I tend to like “modern” too but only if it’s a certain sort of modern.

It’s hard to explain… For me it has to have some sort of whimsy or “Je ne sais qua” … that brilliant phrase in French that describes the unexplainable factor that grabs your attention, appeals to your imagination or just makes you like something.

The phrase in French literally means ” I don’t know” but the phrase itself means more than the sum of it’s parts. These sculptures are too.

I managed some photos though the bus window of a “Plein” (a “Square” in English) that had exactly this “Je ne sais qua“.

There are a set of hoops, closely grouped together, but also parked high up on a corner of a building… Giants shoot hoops? basketball practice of sorts?  … and then there are the  flattened balls that remind me of the game called “Go”

… but these are decent sized metal ones and randomly distributed on the ground… do Giants play marbles and them squash them in a fit of pique if they loose? The imagination ticks over random thoughts. Mostly silly, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing is it?

There were many more sculptures and public art on display, usually I wasn’t quick enough with the camera.

Gotta go back and do it properly  when I’m mobile again. The last photo shows I haven’t forgotten my old friends the stone carvings: character, depth, artistry, so much more of this was lost in the heart of Rotterdam, but a few small pieces remain.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

An apology that I’m not able to answer my comments yet, I’ve got some sort of tummy bug in recent days and the plumbing is unhappy. I’m keeping up with work and physio (for the most part) but keeping close to the little room as much as possible. I’m hoping it will run it’s course and I can avoid antibiotics. The workmen finished installing the heating system today, there’s still mess to clean up (false ceilings to put back into the cupboards etc) and then a house-load of repainting starts for Himself to do this Summer if he can manage it all in that time…. but it’s looking good. Well worth biting the financial bullet for. I’ll be back fighting fit soonest, promise 🙂

May 4, 2011

Taking a Short-Cut Groundwards…

Filed under: Landmarks,LIFE,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Some people have a head for heights. Some people are daredevils.

I am severely neither and it’s my worst nightmare to even dream of  doing something like  abseiling.

Other people like to live closer to the edge and a few enjoy literally going over it… more power to you folks. I haven’t quite decided yet if you have my deepest  respect or pity.

I can say that when the bus approached the Rotterdam Euromast and we could see figures dangling on ropes making their way down, many of our party went “wow“… and my first thought was “eeeee” …

Yes indeed it’s possible if you wish, to abseil from the observation deck of the Euromast. I think it’s weather dependent, but if you  desire to dangle yourself in mid-air  from a great height and take the claustrophobic’s preferred route down, then you can pay this team to do so.

Personally as you will have gathered, I’m not paying a cent for it,  and seriously, I don’t think there’s enough money in the world that would convince me to do it. You know I’m accident prone right?

I’m not superstitious but I can’t quite convince myself that human error  in even the best of risk sports is totally avoidable, even it it were only one time in a billion.  It’s probably the only lottery I’d have the luck (?) to win.  No tickets for me Thanks.

I also took a video clip of the pod that travels up and down the Space Tower column, I did mean to go on it but by the time I’d watched the abseilers and photographed the views I found I’d left it too late and the bus was due to go.  I’m not sure that being even higher up would have delighted me much anyway, if we go again I will try and be less of a wimp and do that bit too.

As usual I totally forgot that the video clips on my wee camera can’t be rotated and so you’ll have to crick your neck a little for that one, (you’d think I’d be a faster learner, sigh, you’d be wrong  …sorry).

So, if this was offered and money was no object, would you be like these people and do this? How strong is your sense of adventure, how much of a risk taker are you?  Would you be joining the queue here?  Me? I prefer to take emotional risks, not physical ones.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 3, 2011

Seeing Far to Every Horizon…

Filed under: Landmarks,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m still taking you on an archive tour of Rotterdam. Himself and I managed a few kid-free weekends last summer and decided to have a tour of Rotterdam as part of one of them.

We’ve just been to the Maritime Museum, and now the coach has arrived at the Euro Mast.

Designed by Hugh Maaskrant, it was built for the 1960 Floriade. ( The Floriade is a huge exhibition held once every 10 years in a different location in the Netherlands) the observation platform and restaurant area  is 96 meters (315 feet) above ground level.

In 1970 the “Space Tower” was added to the top of the building , taking the total height to 186 meters (558 feet) making it the tallest building in Rotterdam.

The views are stunning, you can see out towards the vast harbours in the distance, and the amazing mix of architecture that defines Rotterdam is quickly apparent.

I’ve tried to take enough shots to give you a panoramic view,  Yes there is a Asian styled building below us, I believe it’s a Chinese restaurant, and right next to it the dock where we first boarded our boat for the boat tour earlier in the day.

There are even people picnicking in the park  far below. Sadly the restaurant on the observation deck was closed, it would be fabulous to have had an evening dinner there, looking out over the lights and water of the city.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 2, 2011

Whoa! …A Bus Drives straight into the River Maas!

Filed under: Places and Sights,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Whilst we were on our tour  boat waiting to start the tour of Rotterdam Harbour, we happened upon an extraordinary sight, a large yellow bus in the Maas River where it connects to the inner harbour!

Everyone in our group rushes to the side of the boat to look, there are people on board the bus and it is half way submerged … it doesn’t look good at all.

But this is no ordinary bus and no, it’s not sinking at all.

In fact it’s carrying passengers, going about it’s business  and motoring along at a steady speed in the water, as buses do. (ok, ok,  granted, usually they don’t do their motoring in the water).

This bus is very different to all other buses in one very large respect, because it’s  amphibious and is especially and uniquely designed to drive both on land and in water.

We saw it first as it surprised and amazed us by “sailing” (? …”sailing a bus” doesn’t quite sound right does it?)  past us in the River, and later in the day as we were coming out of the Maritime Museum we serendipitously chanced upon it again as it’s passenger pick-up and return point is by co-incidence just a few meters from the Maritime Museum entrance.

This means I was lucky enough to get both water and land photos of  it and have already chalked it up as an excellent activity to take some of our expected summer visitors on.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 1, 2011

Cubist, … Inside and Out.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another post from my archive photographs as I take you on a tour of Rotterdam.

Himself and I were there last summer, and going past these houses reminds me that we need to return sometime so that we can take a closer look at these.

Arguably they are the most photographed houses in Rotterdam, and they are called the “Kubuswoningen” (Cube / Cubist houses) .

This time I had to make do with a few quick shots through the bus window whilst we waited at the traffic lights.

Designed by the  Dutch architect Piet Blom, these ones were built in Rotterdam in 1984 in the Overblaakstraat.

The Cube Houses instantly became a tourist attraction and people living in them quickly discovered that they were the focus of a lot of unwanted attention  both day and night as tourists tried to get a glimpse inside.

One of the house owners had a brainwave, bought a second home in the complex, furnished it and opened it to the public  as a “show home” so that they may take a tour inside one. It was such a successful idea that not only did he solve the privacy problem from himself and his neighbours, but he also he makes a living from it.

As part of our desire  to be tourists in our own country, and get to know “local stuff”  in our own province better,  once I am mobile again this is a tourist attraction we aim to return to with the children for a decent second look, …. and of course do the tour.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 30, 2011

Is “De Verwoeste Stad” and the pain of a “The City Destroyed”…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you go around the side of the  Maritime Museum, you will quickly see an open “plein” (square) with an imposing statue in it.

This, probably the best known statue in Rotterdam was sculpted by the Russian artist Ossip Zadkine and has been a landmark feature in the city since it was unveiled in 1953.

In Dutch it’s known by two names: “De Verwoeste Stad” (The Destroyed City) and “Stad zonder hart” (City without a heart).

Ossip Zadkine produced the work  in bronze after witnessing the devastation and destruction of Rotterdam’s city centre after German bombs rained down in World War Two.  Zadkine had been in Paris and came to the Netherlands to visit a friend, and passing by the ruined city was shocked at seeing what was little was left of the centre first-hand.

This is the memorial to the day in 1940 when only a few buildings survived the bombing raids intact and the history and heart of the city was all but wiped out.

The  hole in the statue where the heart would have been, represents that destruction of the Rotterdam’s heart,  and 04 May every year   “Nationale Dodenherdenking” / “Herdenkingsdag”  is observed , the Dutch National Day of Remembrance.

On 04 May, the Dutch gather the length and breadth of the country to commemorate these fallen in military conflict and in peacekeeping service and to observe a two minute silence. This memorial is now one of The Netherlands major sites for this commemoration.

The figure clearly represents pain, the arms are outstretched to the sky in agony. It’s a compelling image and with reminders like these we are hopefully inspired and reminded that making Peace is always the better option than making war.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 29, 2011

The Winds of Change blow Over the Sea…

Filed under: Places and Sights,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m still taking you on a tour of Rotterdam via my archive photos taken last summer.

This post completes our short visit to the Rotterdam Maritime Museum… Yesterday I focused on artworks and a little of how ships looked inside, but today’s photos are more about the evolution and revolution of style and technology that has taken place, especially over the last one hundred years.

Long gone are the days when almost everything on board was made of wood, live animals were kept on deck as a food source for long voyages and cases were winched on board with ropes.

Electricity makes visibility, navigation and living on board a comparative luxury, safety features have been introduced and more fundamental changes like the massive size of container ships today and the speed at which they can travel the oceans would make any time travelling sea-farer of old, quake in his boots at the sight.

Looking at several photos in particular,  it’s clear that these days sailors are highly unlikely to have a stone carving on board to bring them good luck and save their souls whilst at sea, and luckily their clothing choices are vastly more suited to the conditions they live and work in at sea today too. Present day seamanship is vastly different to that of a century ago, it might have less “character” but it’s certainly safer.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 28, 2011

The Waves of Time wash into the Maritime Museum…

Filed under: ART,Places and Sights,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The next stop in our summer 2010 tour is the Rotterdam Maritime Museum.

We only have a short time there so it’s a bit of a whistle-stop tour, but well worth a visit if you are interested in the sea and the history of people’s interaction with it.

First I want to look at some of the many artworks on show… they show that life was hard and that life at sea must have been hard. One painting even shows sailors hunting polar bears at the pole, icebergs surround the ships, a perilous trip to be made in the region even now, let alone back then for wooden vessels under sail.

Considering that history shows us that most sailors couldn’t swim, it is amazing that any sailor survived a life at sea.

Compared to today’s standards, technology in the ships, navigation aids and maps was rudimentary and the skill and courage that sailors must have had is amazing.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

History inside the ships…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 27, 2011

An Oil Spill Cascades…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are back in the heart of Rotterdam continuing our tour of the Port and parts of the city, that I took last summer.

We stop by the Maritime Museum and outside, across the street, I spy a sculpture.

It’s called “Cascade”, is a towering 8 meters (26 feet) high and is the 2010 work of artist Joep van Lieshout and his studio “Atelier Van Lieshout”.

There are eighteen oil barrels in the stack and it appears that oil is leaking out the barrels and running own the column.

Then when you look  more closely at the “oil”  you see that they are in fact human figures.

The sculptors website tells us: “The sculpture by Atelier Van Lieshout evokes associations with the current economic crisis, the exhaustion of raw materials and the bankruptcy of the consumer society “Always striving for a solution” according to Joep van Lieshout.. These interpretations are brought into sharper focus by the sculpture’s location at the junction of Coolsingel and Blaak, at the centre of the commercial and financial heart of Rotterdam.”

The sculpture was set in place in March 2010 and I find it to be  a strong and thought provoking image…

For me personally, it represents more that fact the people are as much the problem as the materials they use (oil spill / pollution) and there is something in the double entendre of the oil/people that is both strangely whimsical on one hand and a dark stark truth on the other.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


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