January 5, 2018 · 8:00 am
A few days ago, we visited the villages of Baarle-Hertog (Belgium) and Baarle-Nassau (The Netherlands). I tweeted a short thread about it that you can see below:
- The village is divided between Belgian and Dutch exclaves in a very intricate border, including several exclaves which are no more than a few houses or a farm. The Belgian part of the village itself is an exclave in The Netherlands, a few kilometres from the border (such as Llivia from Spain within France, or Treviño of Castile within the Basque country in Spain).
- The borders were defined in the Maastricht Treaty in 1843. In 1995 a commission clarified the borders.
- There are marks in the ground that show where the border goes, indicating which side belongs to which country. The panels of the streets or the numbering of the houses also help you to locate where you are.
- There is a bike route which takes you through the different border lines.
Once I tweeted that thread, the beauty of Twitter made it that a friend, Miguel, referred me to a series of posts about that village written by the blogger Diego González who hosts a blog about borders.
On top of that, I had taken the idea to visit that village from yet another retweet from another friend, Pablo.
You can see in that tweet below the different posts (in Spanish).
August 11, 2012 · 11:00 am
Luca wanted to enjoy a weekend out in The Netherlands, I only asked some time during both Saturday and Sunday to run some 8 to 10km each day. We ended up in Papendal: a hotel and sports centre in the country side close to Arnhem.
Papendal centre entrance
At first I didn’t know about it, just what Luca told me “there is forest around where you can run”. Once we arrived she explained to me more about the place and we could read in some posters that the hotel is used by Dutch national sports teams of several disciplines to prepare big competitions such as the Olympics.
Time to the next Olympics games.
Then, I recalled “I believe that FC Barcelona might have come here as well for summer stages prior to starting the season”. I googled it, and voi là! FC Barcelona has been staged here several times starting as far back as the 70s. I saw an interesting article describing the centre [in Spanish, 237KB] from 1981, when it was already the 4th time the club visited the centre, in 1982 they repeated the experience and many times afterwards (including one in 1988 when the team captain got himself arrested by Dutch police!). Other Spanish teams have been there as well, e.g. Athletic Bilbao in 2003 & 2007.
Luca & I enjoyed a quiet weekend in which we played again golf, this time in the “Pitch & Putt” installation (close to the Edese golf club), just about 7 weeks after having played in Scotland. The game was entertaining, with some pond and trees in between the holes. We’re already looking forward to play the game in Toulouse.
Then I could run both days around the installations and in the athletics track. I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying out 400m (1’16”), 100m (15”) and long jump (…m)… though I have to say that after having run 9km each day, the legs are not in the best situation to handle those activities. I’ll have to try again being rested in a track in Toulouse… ideally after Berlin marathon training season is finished.
Athletics track where I did some training sessions.
Not that I jumped long, huh?
We also enjoyed the sports decoration motives that you can find in several spots in the hotel. They already make you feel in the sportive mood.
Javier Sotomayor’s 2.45m high jump.
Bob Beamon’s 8.90m long jump.
May 25, 2010 · 8:00 am
I remember having seen this graphic in an article published in NRC Handelsblad (Dutch leading newspaper) on November 2007, “Highest house prices in almost 300 years”.
Highest house prices in almost 300 years, published in NRC Handelsblad, 10 Nov. 2007.
Now, some thoughts come to mind:
- Once adjusted for inflation, we see the prices have moved during last 300 years in a range from 500k€ – 2.5 M€… so, the highest price is merely 5x the lowest price. In other words, house prices are relatively stable… Should it be otherwise? What worth/assets are extracted from a house?
- If you would have put those 500k€ in the year 1650 in some stock or deposit that assured you a 1.5% above inflation, by the time the article was published, end 2007, you would have around 103 M€, 40 times the price of that house at highest housing peak in Dutch history… there will still be people considering houses a good investment.
- Not to mention what would have happened to the family who had set up a business back in 1650 and had continued with it all along these 300 years.
Already that summer, in August 2007, we had a warning on the ongoing bubble in the stock markets…
Note: the translation of the graphic was provided by Google and later checked by Luca… (it wasn’t me, not yet).
February 24, 2010 · 12:03 am
I’ve just finished reading the book “Hidden Madrid. A walking guide”, by Mark & Peter Besas, two Madrileños originally from New York. The book is terrific. It has hundreds of tales, anecdotes, curiosities, pictures, etc… of the city of Madrid:
- The origin of futbolin.
- The suicide mission of Eloy Gonzalo at Cascorro.
- The voices of Palacio de Linares (Casa de America).
- The origin of Atocha.
- The miracles of San Isidro.
- The priviledges of Paco the dog…
Last month I read a similar book about New York, written by another New Yorker (this one originally from Ohio), John Keatts, “Tales of New York: Some Will Surprise You”.
We met John at the Circle Line boat tour around the island of Manhattan last December. He was our guide. He not only had a very pleasant voice but kept telling more and more facts, stories and anecdotes about the city and the persons who marked the history of NY during the 3-hour journey.
He mentioned that he had written a book with these stories and when we were leaving the boat, my partner Luca saw him handing his book to someone, so we decided to stop and buy it. Another terrific book. As he puts it in his web:
- A poor farm boy who began a simple ferry boat service, and became a millionaire
- A renowned bridge-builder whose work on a statue would change his life
- A newspaper man who seized an opportunity
- A man whose building forced our skyline upward…
And yet a month before I read “How to survive Holland”, by Martijn de Rooi. Another wonderful book explaining many facts (traditions, food, history, sightseeing, sports…) about the Netherlands delivered with some self-deprecating humour and irony.
All three books are strongly recommended.