December 2001 and I have returned to Holland after an absence of 15 years…
It is a cold December morning and I have taken a very early taxi from home in Langeraar to go visit the old “familiar” places! And so I stepped off the train in Amsterdam, which I took in Alphen, at around 8 AM, it being dark still and cold just like in the old days!
I set out on foot from Central Station to the Hogere Zeevaartschool in the Foeliedwarsstraat, a walk of about 20 minutes, somehow expecting it to be still functioning as always! I rounded the corner to where the entrance to the building used to be and surprise, the door was no longer there. That particular part of the building had been demolished already! I felt pain! How could a school like that, with so much tradition have disappeared?
I walked the length of the Foeliedwarstraat, crossing the bridge and walking to the “Zeevaarthuis”. Looking back I still could detect the radar masts that were already in place in “my” time, however that was all that was left!
I felt sorry that so much had disappeared! I felt sorry for our maritime tradition, which has almost disappeared as well… How could this ever have happened? How could the Dutch tax regulations force “Our Glory” to disappear in just a few decades?
Now some 8 years later even more of our Maritime Glory has vanished! I for one think it is a shame, and more so because a nation even smaller than ours, Denmark, now has one of the greatest fleets on earth! That certainly must be the VOC mentality that our great leaders talks about so often!!
No, I am not bitter (perhaps a little though), just astonished on how easy we gave it all up! The only thing left now are the many websites that show the former shipping companies, their ships, their crews and their stories! Everything has changed and very little is as it was just a few decades before.