Lately, in the context of Remembrance Day here in the Netherlands, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the different ways in which World War II is being remembered today. For us, being occupied by Nazi Germany during the war has become a foundation myth of our identity, and most Dutch novels, films, and even musicals (Soldier of Orange, based on the book of the same name) about the war centre around the two main protagonists in that myth: the evil collaborators and the virtuous members of the resistance. You can even pretend to be a member of the underground press in an escape room in Nijmegen, racing against the clock to escape discovery by the Nazis.
Last week I returned from a twelve-day holiday in the northeast of Europe, where I’d never been before. We flew to Helsinki, where we spent a few days; from there, we took the train to St. Petersburg; and finally, we took a night bus to Riga, from where we flew back home. It was a wonderful trip, presenting us with a side of Europe I’d never seen before.
A visit to Amsterdam is always a treat – whenever I’m down there for the day I seem to soak up the art, architecture, exhilaration, diversity and history of the city like a sponge. Here is a collection of snapshots I took during various visits in the past few months.
Some time ago, my friends and I went on a city trip to Wrocław, Poland’s fourth largest city. It was my first time visiting Poland, and I couldn’t have hoped for a better introduction than I got by wandering around in this breathtaking city for 48 hours. For both culture vultures and those looking for good food, drinks and parties on the cheap, Wrocław is more than worth a visit. See also my earlier post about Wrocław in self-portraits.
My last day in the British Isles this summer was spent in Dublin, the colourful capital of Ireland. I had never been there before, but it had been on my list for a long time, and how I’d love to go back!
Having spent this last New Year’s Eve peering at dull flashes and occasional showers of sparks desperately trying to penetrate the thick fog in my hometown, Utrecht, I reminisced about spending the same night in the Belgian city of Ghent two years ago.
You may remember that around the end of last year, I visited the town of Bastogne with two friends. Being big fans of HBO’s Band of Brothers, we wanted to celebrate New Year’s Eve together in the same vicinity as the paratroopers did over 70 years ago: in the Ardennes, site of the Battle of the Bulge. I wrote a report about this very special trip here.