Saturday, March 31, 2018

Liverpool Reprise, 2017

We last visited Liverpool in 2011 and, at that time, had focused on cataloging some of the numerous city center pubs, visiting both cathedrals - Roman Catholic and Anglican, checking out China Town and marveling at the disappearance of 7-1/2 miles of dockland. In doing so, we completely overlooked the tawdry "birthplace of the Beatles" and the sorry little industry that has sprung up to exploit their fame. So, taking advantage of a brief stopover in this reinvented city, we decided to make amends. (Incidentally, if you ever find yourself in this interesting burg with a few hours to spare, a visit to each of the cathedrals is highly recommended to witness the dramatic differences in style.)
It is probably not possible to accurately separate fact from fantasy in the Mathew Street reconstruction that passes for the Beatles birthplace today. It is about sixty years since the group first appeared and, for a decade or two at that time, Liverpool had already been laboring under a painful transition from vibrant dockland to dereliction and latterly on to rebirth as a commercial center over the following decades.
Many years after hitting the music scene spotlight it was recognized that the Beatles were indeed an enduring phenomenon and that some kind of shrine marking their origin should be developed. In the interim however, buildings had changed hands, been re-purposed or even torn down and replaced, making the identification of many features impossible. In true huckster style and simply ignoring inconvenient facts, the entrepreneurs, intent on chasing their pots of gold, latched onto whatever property was available and developed a mishmash of make-believe and reality that continues to draw myriad tourists on a daily basis. Additional pictures here.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2017

Courtesy By Unknown Public Domain,
We stopped off in Rotterdam, Netherlands for a couple of days last summer. The sixth busiest port in the world and the largest in the western world, Rotterdam is a major conduit for the import and export of goods and materials for all of northern Europe.
During WWII, the Germans seized the port after bombing it into submission in 1940. From this moment on, the city became an Allied target for the remainder of the hostilities. By the time the war ended in 1945 all but two historical buildings remained salvageable in the city center with the rest of the area being reduced to a wasteland.
Post-war reconstruction gave rise to much experimental architecture during the latter decades - the eighties and nineties - some of which was somewhat over the top. Nonetheless, the city is again a vibrant cultural and commercial success albeit with a few questionable oddities on display and very little in the way of historical sights. For more images, click here.