Picture of the Week

21 March 2020

Week 10: Zagreb and Amsterdam

Filed under: — Administrator @ 10:51

The first week of March was likely my last week of travelling for several months. As I post these images (on 20th March), I am confined to my home, only allowed to leave the house for food, medicines and other basic necessities. So it is nice to take a look back at normality, just a couple of weeks ago.

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I was leaving for Zagreb Monday morning, so I made sure to do a nice ride on Sunday, knowing that I would spend much of the week in meeting rooms. The light around Busot was beautiful, with a combination of dark clouds and sunshine:
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On Monday morning I flew to Zagreb via Munich, arriving at my hotel in late afternoon. This was my first visit to Croatia, and as always on such occasions, I was eager to go out and explore the city. So after installing myself in my room, I walked towards the city’s main square in Upper Town, passing the impressive train station along the way:
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I continued my walk through a nice park with an impressive arts pavilion:
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Shortly after taking the previous picture, I reached one of my planned destinations, a bar called Bacchus which I had learned about from the Lonely Planet guidebook I had read on the plane. There were quite a few people in the outside seating area:
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But I went downstairs and discovered this wonderful space. I really liked it, despite the fact that much to my surprise, smoking was allowed–apparently in Croatia restaurants are smoke-free but bars are up to the proprietor:
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Even though the name suggests that Bacchus is a wine bar, the focus is very much on the excellent local beer:
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As I kept on walking, I passed this poster; clearly, the issue of Catalan separatism has been noticed in Croatia:
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Trg bana Josipa Jelačića, Zagreb’s main square, was quite lively:
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I walked a bit further north to see the cathedral:
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This narrow alley seemed made for a nightime photo:
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On Tuesday morning, we started a two-day meeting of the representatives of the EU member states. Here, Harrie from the European Commission is giving us an update by video:
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My colleague Blanca, working during a coffee break:
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During lunch, I took a brief walk in the neighbourhood around the hotel. A typical scene from the former Communist capitals, old, somewhat dilapidated houses next to a modern international hotel:
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US cultural influence, in evidence here too:
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A detail of our hotel:
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After the meeting, we had a social dinner at a restaurant a couple of km from the hotel. We provided a bus to take the delegates to the restaurant, but Blanca and I chose to walk, partly so as to visit Bacchus again. This resulted in a photo of me, taken by Blanca, with a somewhat funny face:
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At the restaurant, Nino, a Croatian law enforcement officer currently working in our office as a Seconded National Expert (and a great guy in every respect), entertained Stephanie and Blanca after dinner with some card shark tricks:
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On Wednesday, we finished the meeting at lunchtime and then had an organised walking tour of Zagreb. The guide was knowledgeable and spoke good English:
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At one point of the tour, we took what is billed as “the world’s shortest funicular”:
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We passed a statue of St. George having slain the dragon:
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There are some very long pedestrian tunnels under the old city:
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During the walk, I noticed some radical environmental graffiti:
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Double selfie:
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One of Zagreb’s best-known tourist attractions is the Museum of Broken Relationships. It was set up by a couple who split up (but remained on friendly terms). The exhibits are donations from people all over the world. Some are funny, like this one:
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Others are more poignant. These bras came from a woman who lost her “relationship” to her breasts due to cancer:
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On Thursday, we had arranged a conference together with the Croatian intellectual property office. I had a first row seat which allowed me to take pictures of the speakers. This is Nino, our Croatian colleague:
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Piotr from the OECD speaks about counterfeit medicines:
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After the conference ended around 4 p.m. on Thursday, I quickly changed into casual clothes and walked about 3 km to the Museum of Contemporary Art, a place that Nino, my Croatian colleague, had recommended to me. Along the way, I crossed the river Sava. I liked having the opportunity to see parts of the city away from the centre and the tourists:
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On the bridge, I saw another sticker supporting Catalan independence:
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I finally reached the museum:
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As usual, I enjoyed a visit at a modern art museum. Quite a lot of it was striking; Croatia has had a difficult history in the 20th century, something that, paradoxically, seems to make the art more interesting:
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The news:
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On Friday morning I flew from Zagreb to Amsterdam. I had an 11-hour layover there, normally a hardship during a trip, but in this case it was a bit of a bonus, as it allowed me the opportunity to visit a city I know very well but which I had not visited for a few years. So I took the train from Schiphol airport and walked the familiar streets. This hotel was a place where I often stayed during the 1990s, when I lived in Brussels but had to spend a couple of days each week in the Netherlands:
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I walked from the Central Station towards the Dam Square. The street connecting the two is the Damrak, and it looked as I remembered it from my last visit, except that there was this very impressive new sculpture:
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A bit further down the street, I stopped at this place, where Dutch seafood delights such as herring and kibbeling are sold:
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This is Dutch street food at its best, a haringbroodje. I enjoyed it enormously, a delicious mix of flavour and nostalgia:
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I finally arrived at the Rijksmuseum, which I was determined to visit. It is a bit like visiting the Prado in Madrid for me; the place is so big that I tend to go to the parts where there are paintings I particularly like. It is like seeing old friends again. Among them is of course Rembrandt’s Night Watch, which is now undergoing a restoration in full view of the public:
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One of things I enjoy at the Rijksmuseum is to look at the faces in the portraits. I look into the eyes of people who lived 400 years ago; it almost gives me goosebumps:
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After my visit to the Rijksmuseum, I walked back towards the train station. On the way, I stopped at another place which I used to visit when we lived 45 km from Amsterdam between 2003 and 2007, the Kattenkabinet, a small museum dedicated to cat-themed art, housed in a grand old house on Herengracht:
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A painting of a cat that looks just like my late Taco:
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After visiting the Kattenkabinet, I walked to the Central Station, took the train back to the airport, and flew home to Alicante.

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On Saturday morning, I was back on my beach, looking at the sand which had been blown into interesting shapes by strong wind while I was away:
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A man was walking his greyhound; they walked down to the beach and he let the dog loose. Moments after I took this picture, the dog sprinted away, happily, and too quickly for me to catch on camera:
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More photos from Zagreb can be seen here, and my walk in Amsterdam is further documented here.

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