Growing up with Estonian friends, I was fascinated with their folktales, their history, the countryside and their futuristic ways. They’ve made e-citizenship and voting for politicians online work – how could I not see a place where history and the future co-exist? I ended up going to Estonia twice and I found enough things to do in Tallinn in winter and summer to fill a four-day stay in the capital.
Had I more than one day to explore Northern Vietnam after my work engagements in Hanoi, I would’ve joined the masses in Halong Bay. No matter how beautiful the World Heritage Site was, however, taking an eight-hour round trip to spend four hours on a ship didn’t seem like a good use of my time. Tam Coc came up often in discussions about alternatives to Halong Bay; being less than two hours from Hanoi, it seemed like a sensible pick.
I decided on one of the many organised day trips that also included a visit to the ancient citadel of Hoa Lu and a bicycle ride around the rice paddies. The Ninh Binh region is full of the same limestone formations as those out at sea, but I’ll focus on the river ride in Tam Coc for this post.
For years the Rietveld Schröder House seemed like a myth to me. It was like that relative you’d constantly hear about at family gatherings – no one has met him, yet they’re certain that he still walks this earth. Similarly, the house, a highlight of the De Stijl movement, is still considered radical even today. It’s important enough for UNESCO to place it on the list of World Heritage sites. No-one among my circles had heard of it, let alone visited it, however. [Read on]
Waking up at 4 a.m. is one of the hardest things to do, but it was necessary if I wanted to catch the sunrise in Nida. After all, Midsummer had just passed in Lithuania.
Once I shut the door behind me, I was glad to trade my room mate’s snoring for the sound of waves lapping the shore. The breeze which tickled the Curonian lagoon was fresh. No one else was out and about.
I never knew that having the moment all to myself could be so satisfying.
ANTE ROMAM TREVIRIS STETIT ANNIS MILLE TRECENTIS.
PERSTET ET ÆTERNA PACE FRVATVR. AMEN.
The inscription on the Red House reads, “Trier stood thirteen centuries before Rome. May it persist and enjoy eternal peace. Amen.” I didn’t have forever to explore it, however; once my friend Yvonne was able to join me after her classes, we had all of six hours to look at the ruins before I had to return to Cologne, which was just enough to cover its most fascinating highlights.
The island fortress of Suomenlinna lies off the coast of Helsinki. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by the Swedes, who call it Sveaborg, in the mid-1700s, then used by the Russians in the 19th century until Finland’s independence. Much of the military architecture which earned the site its heritage status is still present today.