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Monthly Archives: January 2018

I(Chris) spent a day in Rotterdam and walked from the Maritime Museum to the Museumpark along the street Witte de Withstraat. Part 1 covers the shops, bars and restaurants on Witte de Withstraat.

Museumpark is an urban landscaped park located between the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Westersingel, Westzeedijk and the complex of the Erasmus medical center in central Rotterdam. The Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, the Kunsthal, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Chabot Museum, and the Natural History Museum (Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam) are all located there and connected with each other by this landscaped park.

First, the establishments – the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (see a dedicated post later)

Chabot Museum is home to one of the most important collections of Dutch expressionist painter and sculptor Henk Chabot (1894-1949).  The white villa was built in 1938 and represents a highpoint of the functionalist ‘Nieuwe Bouwen’ (New Construction) style of architecture. It was designed by Gerrit Willem Baas and Leonard Stokla in 1938 as a private residence.

Chabot Museum’s next door neighbor – there are a few more houses/villa that are built in this style in the area. But I couldn’t tell if it was built around the same time as the Chabot museum or it is a later emulation.

In Het Nieuwe Instituut – the Museum of Architecture, Design and Digital Culture – shows temporary exhibitions with a recurring theme of innovation. The museum examines the designed world and how it is constantly being changed by new technologies, new ideas and shifting social priorities. The concept is similar to that of the MAAT in Lisbon – click here for our earlier post.

Instead of a lawn, the institute has a pond covered in algae in front of it. Look carefully, it is green water.

The institute has a modern and comfy cafe

… but the bookstore (not so much a shop, but more like an open market) was closed. The stalls were all covered up.

The park was designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA in close collaboration with the French landscape architect Yves Brunier and the designer Petra Blaisse.

The park has a very innovative design: four zones – a paved zone; a romantic zone with trees, flowers and a pedestrian bridge (just visible above); a city zone which is covered in asphalt and often used for public events; and a well-tended orchard area.

I used all my time in the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen so the Kunsthal was closed by the time I got to it.

Although it is not eye-catching like a work by Gehry, this is a masterpiece of architecture by Rem Koolhass –  read more about it here: https://www.kunsthal.nl/en/about-kunsthal/building/

One of the sculptures outside the Kunsthal.

The city’s Natural History Museum is next door.

As I walked back towards the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, one can see the other side of the museum where Claes Oldenburg’s Screwarch is installed.

I read somewhere that the ponds and fountains in this park are designed to act as buffers to prevent flooding of the city.

The green and built spaces around the park are really harmonious.

I will definitely come back to have a closer look at the museums and relax with a drink at the establishments on Witte de Withstraat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I(Chris) spent a day in Rotterdam after a meeting in The Hague, which is only a short train ride away.

Rotterdam is actively marketing itself as a popular destination for international visitors, an alternative to Amsterdam. It was built around the river Rotte in 1270 and grew rapidly over the centuries but in 1940, during World War II, the entire city center was destroyed by bombs.

The city was rebuilt, opting to break from the past, and commits itself to contemporary architecture.

Witte de Withstraat is a street which connects the Maritime Museum (just visible in the photo below) with the Museumpark.

It is the cultural center of the city which is full of restaurants, bars, museums and interesting shops.

“Work hard, play here” at the Metropole Cafe

I was there in the afternoon so that the seating areas of the bars and restaurants were somewhat empty.

But one can imagine that the place must be really fun at night.

The street is the scene.

Somebody proposed to Sam with this graphics ? Cool.

And there is of course a Dutch “coffeeshop” nearby, this one with subway-style turnstiles ! (not clearly visible in the photo) and a sauna/massage salon next door.

These establishments are facing an open park, so it is not at all sleazy as it may sound.

This sculpture of Sylvette by Picasso marks the beginning of the Museumpark.

See part 2 for the next segment of this thoroughfare.

 

 

 

 

Another bookstore … this time in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. This one barely survived.

Donner is located on Coolsingel, in a former bank building, all public areas on one floor. This bookstore and the pride of Rotterdam was swallowed up by a big chain store that unfortunately went bankrupt in 2014.

The Top 10 fictions and non-fictions.

Owing to a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised 250.000 euros, Donner was able to relocate to its current location.  It’s again a proudly independent and well stocked bookshop.

The number one fiction – “The Best Thing We Have” by Griet Op de Beeck.

A nice collection of Lovecraft stories.

Cookbook section

Calendars for 2018.

Like most bookstores these days, they sell a whole lot of other non-printed merchandise, such as collectible objects.

There was an event which just finished. A line of people was waiting for refreshments and perhaps a selfie with the speaker or an autographed book.
 
Old books – several aisles of them.
High-end lifestyle magazines. They look like coffee table photo books without a real topic (except Nez which is a serious perfume magazine), and costs the same or more.
There is something about this bookstore, possibly its slight messiness in full view which made me felt like I was in a public library.
Hope this one survives.

Continuing with my tour of the world’s bookstores … Livraria Bertrand at Rua Garrett 73 in Lisbon is the oldest and largest bookstore chain in Portugal.

Since it was launched in 1732, the Bertrand Bookstore stayed open, and has thus entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest bookstore in the world still in operation. The business survived earthquakes, revolutions and the recent economic crisis.

The bookstore was founded by a Frenchman in the area of the current store – Baixa. Pierre Bertrand joined the store in 1744.

The earthquake of 1755 destroyed the original store but it returned in 1773 to Rua Garreta where it still operates today.

Later in the twentieth century, the company evolved, changed owners several times. In 1912, ownership of the “Livraria Bertrand” was with the firm ‘Aillaud Bastos & Alves’ editors in Paris, Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro. In 1938, it opened the first bookstore in Porto and, from 1939, Livraria Bertrand had its own printing press.

When I arrived, it was still opened. The closing time is 10:00pm – rare for a bookstore in Europe.

The top 10 fictions and non-fictions – the No. 1 fiction is Dan Brown’s Origin – sans surprise. Very few English books.

Nobel laureate José Saramago’s books are prominently featured (inside and in the window display) as were those by the poet Fernando Pessoa.

The bookstore is all on one floor.

The Bertrand Group owns 53 bookstores in Portugal, a book club, and eight smaller publishers. The company was a subsidiary of giant German media corporation Bertelsmann until 2010, when Bertelsmann sold Bertrand to Porto Editora, Portugal’s biggest publishing house. “Bookstore Bertrand” is thus the name of a network of bookstores across the country.

Law Books

Although the brick-and-mortar bookstore is under threat, Bertrand has managed so far and built an online presence. I read that many Portuguese language books that publishers send overseas are delivered to Africa and nearly half are ordered by customers in Angola.

We saw some big beautiful bookstores in Sao Paulo, Brazil, click here, here and here. You would have thought that they do well in South America, but Bertrand is not there. Apparently, Portugal and its former colonies do not have a standardized literary language (although they speak the same language) which could be used simultaneously in Europe, Africa, and South America. As a result, the works of Portuguese novelists must be “translated” into the Brazilian version of literary Portuguese before they can be marketed in Brazil.

The bookstore has a cafe – Cafe Bertrand with the catchphrase “Taste our books”. It also has its own entrance.

The room is named after the poet Fernando Pessoa who frequented this place with many Portuguese literary luminaries over the years. Notice the typewriter sitting above the wine refrigerator? Just in case if someone is in a creative mood ?

It also has a cute character-based logo in the shape of a cup and saucer.

Keeping the good bookstore tradition alive.

Dear Readers,

It has been a tradition of this blog to take a look back at some of the places we visited last year. In Part 1, we posted photos of places we visited in the second half of 2017. Here are the places we visited in the first half.

As you will see, we went to the two other capitals on the British Isle, the administrative center of the Netherlands, and the wine capital of France.

Click on links, where provided to read more about the places of interest. There are usually a series of related posts per location, you can discover them easily in the calendar at the bottom of the post.

In reverse chronological order:

Loch Ness, Scotland in June

Edinburgh, Scotland, June

Glasgow, Scotland, June

Cardiff, Wales, June

The Game and the Castle

The Hague (Scheveningen), Netherlands, May

St. Emillion, France, in April on our Alps-Atlantic drive with A and F

Biarritz, France in April, the Atlantic !

Bordeaux, France in April

Arcachon, France in April

So this is goodbye 2017.

Where will we end up this year ? … if all go as planned, it will be more exotic and involve longer distances in 2018.

Dear Readers, Happy New Year !

This is our first post of 2018. It is a tradition of this blog to take a look back at some of the places we visited last year. Overall, we traveled less in 2017 than 2016, at least in terms of distance traveled. We did not leave Europe after our Hong Kong trip concluded in January 2017. But we entered the Arctic Circle, visited the capital of Norway, England, France and Portugal.

Click on links, where provided to read more about the places of interest. There are usually a series of related posts per location, you can discover them easily in the calendar at the bottom of the post.

In reverse chronological order:

Oslo, Norway, December-January – Astrup Fearnley Museum

Tromsø, Norway, December – 350 km inside the Arctic Circle

London, December – overnight business trip

Paris, France, December – on the Grande Roue

Lisbon, Portugal – attended a conference at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown

Rotterdam, Netherlands, in November – outside the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Lucerne, Switzerland, August – with S&J + family

Panorama from Mount Rigi above Lake Lucene

Verbier, Switzerland in September for business

Aix-les-bains, France in July with friends

Travels in first half of 2017 to come in part 2.