Friday, September 15, 2017

From Rotterdam to America

Rotterdam doesn’t really fit the image someone has when 
it comes to Holland. Away from the canal house gables, bustling
 bike paths, I was so happy to discover this modern city
 “arousing emotions by having established relationships between 
shapes” (this is not mine but this is the meaning of architecture
 according to Le Corbusier).

My first impression of Rotterdam was confusion about where
 I was. Frankfurt, New-York? An impressive amount of 
modern architecture
 and a patchwork of outstanding buildings give the city a 
dynamic character and I thought that if I were young it
 would be perfect to begin my life in the city of Erasmus. 
In an urban space like this, reconstructed from the ground, 
innovative, open to the ocean and its opportunities,
 a space which never stops reinventing itself. 

The Market Hall! (below)

 A landmark of the city struck me the most; Hotel New York. 
Not a modern construction, just a place with a story to tell. 

The Hotel New York, also called “Grand Old Lady” is 
surrounded by immense towers and skyscrapers. 

Hotel N.Y. is situated at the Wilhelminapier 
which is being redesigned into a large ship’s deck.

The building that nowadays houses the Hotel New York and 
its beautiful cafe-restaurant was formerly the HAL;
 Holland America Line, the shipping company founded in the late
 19th century. It was originally the head office and the location
where in earlier times, many Europeans stepped over their
 threshold and boarded boats to travel halfway across an 
unknown world armed with nothing. Nothing, except their
 hope for a life, a better one.... who knows……
 Brave souls excited but also fearful in front of their new 
adventures and perspectives. For many of them, this red-brick 
Jugendstil structure was the last European building they ever 
saw. Their transatlantic trip brought them to the promise land;
America. How deeply touching this unromantic
 yet desperately romantic history was for me!

We took the gamble and dropped in without having booked a room. 
I was impressed by the charm, potential and style that the
 building oozes. Once inside and walking into the casual and 
spacious lobby, you can almost hear the voices of those people
 awaiting their long journey. Although that era is long gone, 
the building has not lost its character. 

The seafood bar looks splendidly impressive!
Oh, I know this man!

I loved the historic atmosphere with its cruise-ship inspired deco
 and appreciated the fact that the architects kept the period
 departure hall structure intact with so many items to discover like
 the old spiral staircase, a beautiful relic of the past. 
The building honors its history, celebrates nostalgia and tradition 
without being stuck there though.
 The hotel rooms upstairs obey the same logic. 

We had a lovely time there and were also lucky to enjoy 
the gorgeous sunshine and sit out for an alfresco refreshment.

 I wonder whether those immigrants achieved their dreams then...
 What about today's flow of masses?
As they pursue their personal Odyssey, let us
p r a y
they will be able to keep their dreams alive.

Wishing you all a great start into the new season and 
I’m looking forward to seeing your holiday photos
 and hearing your own stories.
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