Last Thursday Cathal and I left from Schiphol, Amsterdam, on our trip through Asia, starting with a journey on the Trans-Mongolian Railway. The first stories and visuals of our trip start to build up in our heads and on our hard-disk. But for me, starting our journey also means saying goodbye to the home I felt so happy with for the past 2,5 years. Therefore I decided to close the ‘Rotterdam chapter’ first, so I can create room for new stories and pictures to share in the following months.
Rotterdam became my home during my years as a student in psychology. Getting to know it bit by bit, I started living there in my early 20s. A student room of 16 square meters in the so called ‘stadsdriehoek‘ was my home. I’ve always loved Rotterdam, its distinctive features when compared to other Dutch cities, its courage to make room for new initiatives, and the fact the people who actually (re)built the city still walk, eat and live in it. I felt and loved those facts, day after day. From the moment I got to live in the historic centre I felt blessed, and knew it would be hard to ever leave.
Loving the city doesn’t mean I think Rotterdam is the most beautiful city of the Netherlands. In fact, at times it can be quite hard on the eyes. Being forced to (re)build Rotterdam at rapid speed means some decisions made in the 50s are still limiting the city to reach its full potential. For example, when walking the streets, you can see bunker-like post-war structures that occupy the most important sites in the city. This in stark contrast with new and internationally renowned structures like the Markthal.
But beauty isn’t everything, heart and interestingness is.
Rotterdam came to feel even more like home when Cathal and I decided to live there after knowing each other for only nine months. We rented an apartment in building ‘De Coopvaert’, in the so-called ‘Wijnhaven’. De Coopvaert was finished in 2006, so still felt quite new. From the moment I stepped foot in the apartment I fell in love with Rotterdam all over again. The view on the skyline from the 13th floor was breathtaking. I liked it even better than the view from the top floor, for I felt less like a distant observer, and more ‘part of the city’.
I guess the first words I spoke in the apartment were something like “This is the one, this is where I want to live!“, at the same time jumping up and down and already reaching for my phone to take the first skyline picture. And so it happened. Cathal and I lived there, and didn’t regret the decision for one minute. Every time we looked outside we felt blessed to have such a wide view on the city, and to be able to see the skyline change dramatically with every season, every sunset, every upcoming storm. For me, living in the apartment meant a lot of jumping up from our couch to take another skyline picture. And another. And another.
But new adventures means saying goodbye to old ones. We decided to go travelling, and for several reasons not to keep our home. We left the apartment two weeks ago, and jumped on a train from Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod to Yekaterinburg – not yet knowing where our travelling will end. Even 5 minutes before I handed over the key to our apartment I made pictures. The last one of an empty living room, the weather outside rainy and stormy.
So, bye bye Rotterdam (for now), and bye bye amazing skyline. You’ve made a photographer very happy. It’s time for someone else to appreciate your beauty.