Rotterdam – The City of Howard Roark

Rand Ann

 

I have lived in Rotterdam on and off for many years, using it a base for travels in Europe and Northern Africa. I can’t say that I’ve ever found it to be an attractive city.

The point is, I don’t like modern architecture.

However lots of people do.

This is something I realized when Rotterdam began appearing in international tourism surveys as a must-see destination. 

And why?

Because of its ‘cutting-edge’ architecture.

I really couldn’t believe it.

Rotterdam?!

It seemed as if there were an awful lot of people around who had no taste.

Give me one of Europe’s old historic cities any day!

Then a time came when my attitude to Rotterdam changed…..

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´Your Country´s Burning!´ – Part 1

It was on a Saturday night in January 2020, shortly after Anya and I had returned from a month of walking in La Palma. We´d arranged to go to Anya´s niece´s place, who´d invited some friends around for the night.    

It was meant to be a pleasant, convivial evening.

But thanks to me, it turned out a bit differently.  

 

It started with flamenco and ended with aboriginal fire stick agriculture.

Quite a distance to travel in a few hours: Spain to Australia.

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Your Country´s Burning! Part 2

 

EXCERPTS FROM MY TRAVEL DIARY

May 2005; Adelaide, State Library of South Australia:

An account left to us from a British colonist arriving in my state South Australia early one morning in 1837:    
 
‘ …Before next day’s sunrise, a great change took place in the landscape before us. The watchers on deck beheld a fire on one of the hills which seemed to spread from hill to hill with amazing speed. All on board were now awake and on deck looking at this grand, and yet to those who knew not its cause, fearful conflagration. It seemed as if the whole land was a mass of flame. The whole range was as black as midnight, except where the trees were still burning.’

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The Flood Part 2

On the following morning, when we went into the kitchen-dining room to have breakfast, I was tempted to ask Francine about Freud.

In our room, there were book shelves and they were crammed. The night before, I had checked the books carefully and noticed quality novels, travel guides, books about psychology and the mind – and a large collection of the case histories of Freud.

I didn’t get around to asking her about Freud though, because uppermost in my mind was to find out more about her father and what happened to him after surviving the flood.

But as it turned out, Freud was a part of that story……….   

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The Flood Part 1

We had arranged to stay at Francine’s place for the night.

We were on a bike ride through Zeeland, a province of The Netherlands which lay west of Rotterdam.

Francine was a member of a Dutch organization called ´Friends of the Bike´ (Vrienden van de Fiets) and so were we. It worked like this: people offered to put up bike riders for the night and provide breakfast the following morning for a set fee of 45 Euros. The bike riders paid a nominal fee to be in the organization and received a book listing places to stay all over the country. Friends of the Bike was an inherent part of a national bike riding culture – and a country with the best system of bike tracks in the world.

Sometimes the people offering the accommodation were themselves also bike riders and felt obliged to contribute to the system they used. Sometimes they liked to meet strangers and talk. Over the years we had met some amazing people via ‘friends of the bike’ and had some memorable conversations – and Francine certainly fell into that category.

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