Malta: Cultural Melting Pot

Roman Catholic Saint John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta

The history of Malta dates back a long time (5900 BC). It has been occupied by many different cultures: Sicilians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Romans. Followed by the Arab period. And not to forget the French and the British. The reason for all this is the strategic position of the island Malta in the Mediterranean Sea, being surrounded by many ports of various countries. You can imagine that all these cultures had a substantial influence on the island.

View from hotel

Birzebbuga We stayed in a hotel in Birzebbuga, right next to the sea. There was a small, half circle sand beach in the middle of the city. It was nice weather, so immediately after arrival we took a dive in the sea. Many locals enjoyed the refreshment of the water. Some were serious swimmers, others had a “tea party” in the water.

Waterfront Valletta, from 3 Cties

Valletta is the capital of Malta. We visited it several times. It is nice to wander through the streets and enjoy its long waterfront. The picture on top of this post is one of the many churches in Valletta. On the right a view of downtown Valletta from Cabo Isla, part of the 3 Cities. At the bottom of this post a view from Sliema. On one of our visit we went to The Knights Hospitallers where an excellent guide told us about the role of the Knights of Malta in the hospital during the many religious wars.

House in Mdina

Mdina is a fortified city which used to be the capital until the medieval period. Its nickname is “Silent City”. Only a few hundred people still live in the city, the rest live in the neighbouring city called Rabat. Mdina is like an open-air museum. You can walk for hours through tiny streets connecting small squares with churches and restaurants. On the right just an arbitrary house. It shows that in the past many wealthy people lived in Mdina. It is well kept and definitely worthwhile to pay a visit.

Tourist swimming at Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon is famous for a small lagoon of the island Cominotto where the water turns turquoise because of the sun. It is really nice to visit, although you have to realize that you are not the only one. To get there, you take a small ferry from Cirkewwa to Cominotto. It was quite windy, which caused some people to scream. The place was really crowded and because of the wind the turquoise color was not as bright as we had hoped for. On the right you get an impression of Blue Lagoon (already sold via Dreamstime).

In Birzebbuga we were kind of disappointed about the quality of the restaurants. Therefore, we often had dinner in Valletta and Marsaxlokk. The latter is a small neighbouring village of Birzebbuga. On the way we walked along several small harbours full with fishermen’s boats (see on the right).

Arriving in Marsaxlokk we had a hard time making a choice for a restaurant. There were many good restaurants although they were not famous for vegetarian meals. The last day we went to the restaurant Tartarun, it is a high quality, family-run restaurant and it specialises in fresh ingredients, especially fresh fish. Both fish and vegetarian meals were excellent. Tartarun is located at this small square (see on the right). This restaurant is definitely worthwhile a visit to Marsaxlokk.

Waterfront Valletta, from Sliema

A Magnificent Sunset at the Beach of Texel

Sunset at the beach of Texel

September last year I visited Texel for the first time. It was for business reasons: Visiting NIOZ, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research. I stayed overnight at Hotel Lindeboom in Den Burg. After visiting Vlieland, Ameland and Terschelling, I was a bit disappointed: the sea was too far away to walk from my hotel to the beach. So, I visited the Oudheidkamer Den Burg, Texel. It makes you realise that even basic healthcare is not trivial on an island.

After discussing my disappointment with friends they suggested us to go to De Koog and to rent a bike. So, in October we took the train to Den Helder (there is really no need to take a car to Texel). From the railway station there a direct bus to the boat and from there another bus to our hotel: Hotel Greenside.

We arrived late in the afternoon. The first thing we did was pick up our bikes and go to the beach. We were just in time for a magnificent sunset (see on top and below). It was a perfect gift after a day traveling.

Sunset at the beach of Texel
Lighthouse of Texel

The next day we visited several places on the island by electric bike. The red lighthouse up north on the island (see on the right), a small village called De Cocksdorp on the Waddenzee-side of the island, for an excellent lunch, and De Slufter, a natural hole in the dunes (see below).

De Slufter is a salt marsh, which is the result of an opening in the dunes. The lower parts get flooded every high tide, only with strong western wind and high tide, also the higher parts get flooded. Below you see the opening in the dunes and the higher and lower parts of the marsh.

De Slufter

After my initial disappointment, I really fell in love with Texel. It is the largest island of the Waddenzee, so please rent an e-bike.

End of WW II: 75 years ago

C.T. Stork square in Tuindorp, Hengelo – Historical Place in Hengelo

This year, 2020, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. For example, on January 27th 1945 the extermination Camp Auschwitz was liberated by the Russians; April 3rd 1945 Hengelo was liberated. All of us have family members or friends that vividly remember what happend in WW II. Everybody agrees that what happened in this war should never happen again.

Kindergarten: green doors on the right

Last year I was contacted by Johanna Lemke about some of my pictures of buildings around the C.T. Stork square. She told me that she went to kindergarten in Tuindorp (Hengelo); this kindergarten is now part of Hotel ‘t Lansink. Shortly after WW II, she, together with the rest of her family, migrated to Canada. Recently she decided to write her memories of that period: an innocent, pre-school child noticing the characteristics of a war and experiencing the behaviour of soldiers.

The book is called: Enemy Under Our Roof written by Johanna M.W.F. Lemke. Below you find the back cover description of the novel:

The novel will be available as of April in Boekhandel Broekhuis in Hengelo, and there is a chance that Johanna Lemke will come to Hengelo to participate in the celebration of liberation of Hengelo (April 3rd, 1945).

Two of my pictures of the C.T. Stork square are included in the novel. It was quite an honour to have email conversations with Johanna Lemke about her upcoming book and to be able to contribute a little bit to the book. As of April I would like to invite you to Boekhandel Broekhuis to get a copy of the novel yourself. It can also be purchased on line at Friesen Press Online Bookstore, Amazon.com (with look inside submission), Apple iTunes/iBooks, and a number of bookstores as well as libraries in Canada.

Reading this book will be a way to remember things that should never happen again.

Bern: the Old City

In the previous posts about our holiday in Grindelwald, I discussed Jungfraujoch and hiking. This blog is about our visit to Bern.

Because our chalet in Grindelwald was next to a railway station we decided to go to Bern by train. It took us via Interlaken to Bern Main Station, right next to the Old City (Alstadt). From there we walked to the Building of Parliament (Bundeshaus). On the right a picture taken from the Kirchenfeldbrücke across the river Aare (see map below), which almost completely curves around the Old City. The river is amazingly green.

While crossing the Kirchenfeldbrücke, looking into the other direction, we had a spectacular view of the cathedral of Bern (Bern Minster) and the houses along the Aare. Its construction started in 1421 and it was built in Gothic style. It is the tallest Cathedral in Switzerland (100m).

After paying a visit to the cathedral we walked on to the Nydeggbrücke, where I took some more pictures. On the way, there were many small shops and restaurants. Like the rest of Switzerland, everything is clean and orderly. Via the northern part of the Old City, alone the Aare, we returned to the railway station. It was an enjoyable day.



Below the pictures of Bern that are accepted by Dreamstime:

Hiking near Grindelwald

The previous post mentioned our stay in Grindelwald and the visit to Jungfraujoch. This post focuses on hiking near Grindelwald.

One of our first hikes was an easy one. We took Bus 128 from the railway station of Grindelwald to Alpenvogelpark (on the map below, on the right). Our hike on the slope of Schwarzhorn started with a magnificent view of the mountain Mittelhorn. From there we walked almost 5 km to Bort, a ski lift station in between Grindelwald and First. It was small climb from 1405 to 1630 meters. After that we took the ski lift back to Grindelwald and had dinner at CundM, upstairs (excellent meals).

From Alpenvogelpark to Bort

The second hike was also on the slope of the Schwarzhorn only a bit higher. Now we took the bus all the way to Grosse Scheidegg (on the map below, on the right, 1960m). After 6km we reached the highest point at First, a large ski lift station at 2180m. On the way and also at First we had the most amazing views. All pictures were taken with my iPhone X (I did not want to carry my Nikon D800). From there we took the ski lift down to Grindelwald.

From Grosse Scheidegg to First

The last hike took us to Berghaus Bäregg (1770m). First we took Luftseilbahn Grindelwald Pfingstegg to our starting point at the slope of the Mättenberg at 1400m (in the map below, halfway on the right). We followed the head waters of the river Lütschine (deep down). Looking back we had a splendid view of Grindelwald spread out in the valley.

The last climb to Berghaus Bäregg was quite steep and the sun was burning. We really needed a refreshment to recover from that. From the balcony of the restaurant we could see the Unterer Grindelwaldgletscher. Later on we heard that in the early 20th century the glacier would come down all the way to the village. On the way back we were too late to take the Luftseilbahn, so we had to walk back all the way to the valley (1000m). In total we walked almost 10km.

Via Pfingstegg to Bäregg and back to Grindelwald

We really enjoyed the various hikes, and there are still many to be discovered by us. Although the area is expensive it is high on our list for a second visit.

Grindelwald and Jungfraujoch

About a year ago I watched a TV-program about trains in Switzerland. They mentioned Grindelwald and Jungfraujoch, the highest European railway station. It attracted my attention and searching on the web I found many hiking trails around Grindelwald. So, we decided to go there. We stayed in a chalet near the railway station Schwendi bei Grindelwald, one stop away from the center of Grindelwald.

Eiger

On arrival we were impressed by mountain Eiger, one of the 4K-mountains near Grindelwald. On the right a view from our chalet. As a matter of fact, Grindelwald is surrounded by quite a few other mountains. Just to name a few: Wetterhorn, Faulhorn, Mönch, and Jungfrau.

After a couple of days we decided to go to Jungfraujoch. You can go there by train via Kleine Scheidegg, where you have to change trains. We were definitely not the only ones. We never thought about seat reservations. A consequence was that we had to stand in line for a long time before making the final track from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch.

Jungfraujoch

Upon arrival at Jungfraujoch you see this magnificent view of eternal snow (in the middle of summer). Jungfraujoch is like a saddle connecting the mountains Jungfraujoch and Mönch at an elevation of 3466 meters. To be part of this we went outside. The view from Jungfraujoch is fantastic.

Here are some of the pictures I took that were accepted by Dreamstime.

To get an impression of my gear: Peak Design Everyday Backpack with Capture to carry my camera: Nikon D800 with Nikkor 28-300mm lens. As you can see, it was cold, sunny, and slippery. However, it was very much worthwhile to take these pictures. I really enjoyed it.

Below you see the map around Jungfraujoch (indicated by the camera marker) in between the mountains Jungfrau (4158m) and Mönch (4107m). In the upper part you can still see the Eiger.


All pictures of Grindelwald and Jungfraujoch are available at Dreamstime:

Foto van de Week: De Pier bij Scheveningen

Regelmatig vertel ik het verhaal achter een foto uit mijn collectie. Als je belangstelling voor een van deze foto’s hebt, mail mij dan even.

Deze keer gaat het over de iconische Pier bij Scheveningen. Het is een toeristische attractie en er zijn al veel foto’s van De Pier gemaakt. Elke keer wanneer ik in Den Haag ben ga ik naar Scheveningen om foto’s van die pier te maken, bij voorkeur bij zonsondergang. Hiernaast een foto genomen van de zuidkant. Iemand heeft deze foto als behang besteld bij Werk aan de Muur voor zijn of haar kantoor.

Wat speciaal aan deze foto is, is de reflectie van de wolken in het rustige water en de zachte kleuren van zonsondergang. Door de reflectie in het water en de meeuwen gaan de ogen van de kijker van dichtbij naar de verder gelegen pier en terug. De lege ruimte in het onderste deel van de foto geeft ook veel vrijheid aan de ogen. Daardoor verveelt de foto niet gauw.

De foto is in 2013 genomen met een Nikon D700 met de 16-35mm zoomlens: brandpunt 35mm en diafragma f/8; sluitertijd 1/320 en ISO 200. De snelle sluitertijd had ik nodig ivm de meeuwen en de golven. Inmiddels is het Reuzenrad erbij gebouwd (een Instagram-volger wees me daarop; was ik vergeten, is er al sinds 2016).

Hier een meer recentere foto genomen van de noordkant van De Pier met een mooie, rode, oranje zonsondergang. Deze foto is in 2019 genomen met een Nikon D800 met de 28-300mm zoomlens: brandpunt 78mm en diafragma f/6.3; sluitertijd 1/160 en ISO 100. De diepte is heel beperkt dus kon ik een groter diafragma gebruiken zodat de sensor voldoende licht zou krijgen. Ondanks het gebrek aan diepte ten opzichte van de eerste foto is het kleurenspel met De Pier en het Reuzenrad als silhouet boeiend voor het oog.

Misschien vind je het leuk om naar de vorige Foto’s van de Week te kijken. Je kunt onderstaande foto ook bij Werk aan de Muur kopen.

Short visit to Finland

Our short short visit Finland started of course in Helsinki. It was late May and we had wonderful weather, although it was a bit chilly. From the main railway station in Helsinki we walked to the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral, the White Cathedral. The building is really impressive, especially when viewed from the lower stairs. When we were there, a group was rehearsing for a music concert for the evening. A big stage right in front of the building made it a bit challenging to take pictures.

White Cathedral

As you can see the white building against a blue sky gives a really nice picture. By the way, this picture has been sold via Dreamstime. After that we continued our walk to the Uspenski Cathedral, the Red Cathedral.

Red Cathedral

Helsinki is a very nice place to visit: impressive buildings, the harbour, a lot of green. Not an average capital of a large country.

Time to explore nature. In Finland they have a lot: an enormous number of lakes and many woods. Nuuksio National Park is a nice example of the wonderful nature of Finland. However, it is close to Helsinki, which means that is also attracts many tourists.

Lake in Nuuksio National Park north of Helsinki

Our next stop was the cottage of friends in the neighbourhood of Lappeenranta at the largest lake of Finland: Saimaa Lake. The Finnish really enjoy nature and silence. Below the view from the cottage during sunset.

Sunset at Saimaa, largest lake of Finland, near Lappeenranta

Our short visit to Finland was wonderful. We really enjoyed being part of the beautiful nature.

All pictures in this blog were accepted by Dreamstime.

Two cities in one weekend: Frankfurt and Wiesbaden

Frankfurt am Main


 
On Saturday I visited Frankfurt. I took the regional train from Wiesbaden, where we stayed overnight, to Frankfurt. From Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof I walked via the Willy Brandt Platz to the famous Eiserner Steg, an iron bridge for pedestrians, crossing the river Main. From there you can see on the one side the Church of the Three Kings and on the other side the mixture of high-rise office buildings next to the old city center. 

Church of Three Kings

View from Eiserner Steg

Then I walked to Römerberg (Roman Mountain), the Town Hall square. Here you see all the old buildings. This square being the center dates back to the Middle Ages. The place was crowded, so it was not easy to take nice pictures. Below some impressions.

The next stop, before going back to the train station, was the Alte Oper, the former opera building, which is now used as music hall. As you can see, people were really enjoying the perfect weather.

Alter Oper

Here you can see all the pictures of Frankfurt accepted by Dreamstime.

Wiesbaden


 
On Sunday I made a tour through Wiesbaden. Via a park with a small pond in the river Salzbach I went to the Marktkirche and the Neue Rathaus. 

New Town Hall and Market Church

Kochbrunnenplatz

From there I walked, via Kochbrunnenplatz (above Cafe del Sol with the nice tree), all the way up to the Russian-Orthodox Church on the Neroberg. This was quite a climb. It is one of the oldest Russian-Orthodox churches in West-Europe with its typical architecture with golden onion-shaped domes.

Russian-Orthodox Church

On the way back I passed the Saint Bonifatius church at the Luisenplatz. 

Saint Bonifatius Church

Walking through Wiesbaden was quite enjoyable, all the nice houses, churches, buildings. You can see the richness of the city everywhere.

In most cases I used my 16-35mm lens and used the correction perspective Upright of Lightroom to avoid “diagonal buildings”. 

Here you can see all the pictures of Wiesbaden accepted by Dreamstime.

Stock Images

Bergen op Zoom during sunset

Sint Gertrudiskerk aan de Grote Markt

For a sad reason —the cremation of an aunt of mine— we traveled to Bergen op Zoom, the city of birth of my parents. At the same time it was nice to see the family again. To avoid early morning traffic jam we made the trip the day before. We stayed in Hotel Old Dutch in Bergen op Zoom, which is near the railway station. 

 
Last time we visited Bergen op Zoom, which was about a year ago, I only took pictures of Fortress De Roovere and none of the city center. So, we decided to stroll around a bit before having dinner. We left the hotel at a quarter to 6, all the shops were closed, there was hardly anybody in the streets and the sun was about to set. The clouds in the sky were turning warm yellow/gold and the buildings had a nice warm colour. 

At the main square, called Grote Markt, there is a really large church called St Gertrudiskerk. Walking through the Stationsstraat, the Wouwsestraat, and the Zuivelstraat we were heading for the Grote Markt. On the way we got a first glimpse of the church. Notice the colour of the sky.

Sint Gertrudiskerk

The Grote Markt was completely deserted so it was quite easy to take pictures from all sides of the square. Then we continued in the direction of the Gevangenpoort, where I took pictures from both the Lievevrouwestraat and the Rijkebuurtstraat (my mother was born and raised there). 

On the way back we visited the Markiezenhof, a city palace dating back to 1485. Here I missed my 16-35mm lens, I had only taken my 28-300mm lens. Therefore, I could not take a picture of the whole facade at once. Also, there were many cars in front of the building. So, I only shot the tower. A good reason to come back to the Markiezenhof again and get a tour with an official guide, which turns out to be a member of the family!

Markiezenhof during sunset

Just before going for dinner at Restorante Napoli I took the picture below, where you can see the top of the tower of De Maagd.

Former church De Maagd

All 11 pictures of Bergen op Zoom I submitted to Dreamstime were accepted, resulting in a total of 750+ pictures at Dreamstime.

Stock Images