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WH Travellers meeting in Rotterdam

The idea came earlier this year in or around Izmir, when after some private meetings among Top WH Travellers Nihal Ege thought it would be a great idea to organize an event related to the WHS website. Holland was chosen as the destination, as it lies fairly central in Europe and it would make things more easy for me as a host. An announcement was posted on this website, and many positive reactions followed.

Original Van Nelle sign

So on Sunday August 23, 20 World Heritage Travellers from 7 countries were present at the gates of the Van Nelle Factory for a tour and meet-up lunch afterwards. Most of the participants had added a few extra days in this corner of Europe to tackle such WHS as the Fagus Factory and the Par force Hunting Landscape (“There is forest. And there are deer, of which we took photos of.”). A Livingstone versus Stanley encounter even occurred at the infamous Flint Mines of Spiennes, where Iain Jackson and Paul Tanner stumbled upon each other.

Our ‘official’ programme started with a tour of the Van Nelle Factory in Rotterdam. Narjara from Urban Guides did a great job explaining the former and current use of the Van Nelle Factory, as well as its architectural ins and outs. We saw both the exterior and interior, were even promised access to a ‘special part’ of the building which eventually did not pan out because of the use of the place by a private company. We learned that the Van Nelle Factory at the moment is looking for new investors (read more about its financial problems here). It is also struggling how to combine its private use with public tourist access. There’s talk of a visitor center, but how and where this will materialize is not clear yet. For now, access is limited to guided tours a few times a week.

An attentive audience

Our private group spent 1.5 hours at the factory. We climbed a lot of stairs and peered through a lot of windows. The mention of a ‘double helix’ stairway made us take a mental note for a new entry to this connection. You can see the factory at work in this film from 1930. When leaving the terrain, the cars with Swiss, Norwegian, British, Turkish or French number plates fooled Van Nelle’s parking system based on plate recognition. So they happily drove away without paying.

Next stop was the Van der Valk restaurant, where a lunch buffet was waiting for us. As real globetrotters, all managed to find it without a problem. Fortunately the food went down well, and the conversations at the tables were flowing. Where do you find groups of people who can knowingly talk about Idrija at one moment, and the Rila Monastery at the next? The glossy postcards of Dutch WHS, that are given away for free at some Dutch heritage sites, also attracted much attention. We further discussed the development of the maps on this website, which can be great additional functionality.

Time for food and talk

Around 3 p.m. it was time to leave, although some WH diehards may still be there as they could not stop talking to each other. Others had plans to even visit more WHS that day, such as a Beguinage in Belgium that is closed on Mondays. It was a great day, blessed by sunny weather and clear skies. I’m open to ideas for a similar elusive destination for a possible next meeting. More photos taken during the day by various participants can be found here.

Els - 26 August 2015

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Klaus Freisinger 27 August 2015

Looks great, I would have liked to join, but I went there in June already (the guide was Narjara as well). Maybe next time :) Any way you could mention the participants and who is who on the pics?