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Happy new year!

Posted 1 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):


Weatherwise, the last day of 2008 was one of the nicest of the entire year.

For now: Happy new year to everybody - I`m off on the train to Berlin!


( Leidschendam - NL, December 2008)
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Hello from Dzjermeny

Posted 2 January 2009 - Berlin (DE):


Reporting from Berlin:

Here`s a photo of my cousin checking out the change of train locomotive at the Dutch-German border.


( Bad Bentheim - DE, January 2009)
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Snowfights in Berlin

Posted 3 January 2009 - Berlin (DE):


We`re enjoying the Berlin winter weather.

Here`s a picture of one of the many snow fights between Robin and Sanne, right in front of the East Side Gallery: one of the few pieces of Berlin Wall that have survived `die Wende`.


( Berlin - DE, January 2009)
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Early morning Plattenbau

Posted 4 January 2009 - Berlin (DE):


Yesterday morning, we got up very early to be able to take photos of sunrise in the Marzahn area.

This area is known for the greyish communist buildings, also known as Plattenbau, which - according to Wikipedia - turns out to be a Dutch invention from the 1920s.


( Berlin - DE, January 2009)
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More of Berlin

Posted 5 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):


I`m already back home in The Hague, but here`s another photo from Berlin:


( Berlin - DE, January 2009)
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Even more of Berlin

Posted 6 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):


Whenever I am in a city, I always like to see things that are typical for that city.

I am thinking of the little `Amsterdammer` traffic posts in Amsterdam, marks on the road (PAYANT for paid parking in Paris), traffic signs in general and everything that has to do with the subway system: the colour of the trains, the appearance of the metro tickets, the signs indicating the entrances (as below) or even the colours and font types used at the stations.


( Berlin - DE, January 2009)
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Last year at this time

Posted 8 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):


On the exact same day of last years, I arrived in London for part II of the Us Europeans trip. Seven months of travelling ahead... The plans for this year are a bit more modest, with only one trip to Brussels and one to Luxembourg scheduled for the end of this month.

With the help of graphic designer Bert Meijer, I am now finalising the concept for the Us Europeans photo exhibition which bears the project name `Crossroad Europe`. I will present the intermediary results in Luxembourg by the end of this month, and subsequently hope to get an OK to start working on the final `conception` of the exhibition. Crossroad Europe is scheduled to start off at 8 May of this year, exactly four months from now.


( Leidschendam - NL, December 2008)
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Project New Year`s cards

Posted 9 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):


Project New Year`s cards was completed successfully.

Thanks for the many positive reactions to a card which may seem rather unusual inbetween images of snowy landscapes, Christmas trees and Santa Clauses.

I was lucky enough to get the cards printed by an official printing house, whose name I ought to mention here by means of thanks: LenoirSchuring BV in Amstelveen.

What else is new? Ice skating plans for tomorrow, a Wednesday meeting about the `Crossroad Europe` photo exhibition and some other activities that do not require to be mentioned.


( Flevoland - NL, December 2009)
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Ice skating (1)

Posted 10 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):


Cold weather, blue skies, no wind.. What to do on a Dutch winter Saturday?

Ice skating!! And it's being done massively today. Together with my mum, I joined the crowds in Neck for a good old 30km skating tour.

I took lots of photos - expect some more of those over coming days - and marvelled at how everything in The Netherlands becomes trivial once there's ice on the canals. Wherever the skating tour crosses normal roads, it`s the ice skaters who go first...


( Neck - NL, January 2009)
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Klunen

Posted 11 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):


Another ice-skating photo:

Holland has a dense network of roads and waterways. Which means that at some points, skaters have to kluun, cross a piece of road on their skates. For those who forget to bring `skate protectors`, this is the way to go:


( Jisp - NL, January 2009)
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Us Europeans in Dutch media

Posted 13 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):


Dutch newspaper NRC published an elegant rectification of the short article I mentioned on this blog yesterday.

At http://weblogs3.nrc.nl/europablog/, you can read it in Dutch. For those who do not speak Dutch, here`s a translation of the relevant part:

She (a reader) was absolutely right claiming that Bruno van den Elshout`s trip through Europe had already come to in end, unlike what had been reported in last Friday`s NRC.NEXT in reference to his project.

The front page of Us Europeans now clearly explains that Van den Elshout is no longer travelling. Instead, he is working on a photo exhibition about all 366 Europeans he met on the way. One of them is Barbara (photo) who told to Van den Elshout that she hated Italian tourist coming to Prague. `They are ugly and just want to have sex with everybody`, she says.

Maybe she can enjoy the new piece of art released in Brussels today....


What else is new.. Nothing very special. I hope to finalise the exhibition concept by this week, and have therefore jumped into some old material again. Here`s a photo of one of the notebooks I filled during my trip. There`s a bit of everything: notes from interviews, some bookkeeping on the lower left (F stands for Food, T for Travel, O for Other), some time planning on the lower right (deciding whether to go from Warsaw to Gdansk or stay over for one night in Torun), meeting time and location with a journalist. Notes like these will be part of one of the 29 panels composing the exhibition.


( The Hague - NL, January 2009)
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Newspaper stuff

Posted 14 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):


Dutch newspaper NRC published an elegant rectification of the short article I wrote about yesterday.

At http://weblogs3.nrc.nl/europablog/, you can read it in Dutch. For those who do not speak Dutch, here`s a translation of the relevant part:

She (a reader) was absolutely right claiming that Bruno van den Elshout`s trip through Europe had already come to in end, unlike what had been reported in last Friday`s NRC.NEXT in reference to his project.

The front page of Us Europeans now clearly explains that Van den Elshout is no longer travelling. Instead, he is working on a photo exhibition about all 366 Europeans he met on the way. One of them is Barbara (photo) who told to Van den Elshout that she hated Italian tourist coming to Prague. `They are ugly and just want to have sex with everybody`, she says.

Maybe she can enjoy the new piece of art released in Brussels today....


What else is new.. Nothing very special. I hope to finalise the exhibition concept by this week, and have therefore jumped into some old material again. Here`s a photo of one of the notebooks I filled during my trip. There`s a bit of everything: notes from interviews, some bookkeeping on the lower left (F stands for Food, T for Travel, O for Other), some time planning on the lower right (deciding whether to go from Warsaw to Gdansk or stay over for one night in Torun). Notes like these will be part of one of the 29 panels composing the exhibition.


( The Hague - NL, January 2009)
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About the economy

Posted 15 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):


Temperatures have risen to above-zero levels again again. No more ice, which serves as a good excuse to post another photo of last weekend`s winter sceneries.

Looking at the economic situation in Europe, temperatures have not risen to above-zero levels again. The reverse seems to be happening instead. Major companies are announcing lay-offs as if they were trees waving their leaves goodbye in autumn. Annual accounts are over 2008 are being published in the weeks to follow, and very few of them will look positive. Yesterday alone, 7 000 people in the UK lost their jobs. Similar numbers are reported in Sweden and Ireland. Latvia, until last year the fastest growing economy of the EU, now reports to be the fastest shrinking economy. Some of its inhabitants have asked Sweden to invade their country in a desperate cry for help.

It`s not surprising but it does seem like the massive job cuts are first and foremost counterproductive. As an advocate of countercyclistic approach (if that`s a word at all), I think the current circumstances are excellent for firms who have set themselves the long-term objective of making a difference. If companies have excess capacity under the current market situation, why not use the opportunity to use this capacity for innovation? It`s socially desirable (fewer lay-offs), proves a company`s vision for the future, provides justification towards shareholders in claiming that their money has been well-spent in the last 10 years..

But apparently, these investments have not been that well-spent. Apparently, most companies do not have the courage to look beyond this crisis and prefer to deepen it. Apparently, social desirability is only fashion and not the core value companies, until recently, claimed it to be.


( Spijkerboor - NL, January 2009)
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Nothing, but bigger

Posted 16 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):


I greatly enjoy taking photos of places that look unintentionally deserted. Unfortunately, the standard size I use for DailyPhoto does not really do justice to that type of photographs. Except for today..

I also uploaded this photo in 1200x800px to make it suitable for use as a screen background. Don`t be surprised to find almost nothing when you look at this photo. There`s nothing to see, yet lots to like. I hope you`ll enjoy it.

PS: This will be the last ice/winter/skating photo I`m posting this week.


( Spijkerboor - NL, January 2009)
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Economic outlook 2009

Posted 19 January 2009, The Hague - NL:


Below photo shows an accurate representation of the economic outlook in Europe: grim and depressing.

Europeans have embraced the holiday season and the inauguration of a new US president in their attempts to stay positive about 2009. There`s not much else to look forward to in 2009 - at least, on the macro-economic level. Decreasing sales, decreasing exports, new lay-offs to be announced, increasing unemployment, new government plans that do not produce the intended results. All quite sad.


( Flevoland - NL, December 2008)
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Lots of stuff

Posted 20 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):


Choosing hope over fear. Sounds nice and reasonable. May the choice be made collectively and may it last long. Now back to everyday life in The Netherlands.

Or maybe first to Copenhagen. My Danish colleague Simon Hoegsberg just informed me about the completion of his most recent project. It`s called `We`re all gonna die: One hundred metres of existence` and it shows random passers-by on a summer`s day in Berlin. And once you make it to Simon`s page: take care of also seeing some of his other projects. This man is producing cool stuff.

For myself: I have been allowed to submit photos for the World Press Photo competition, which I take as a compliment in itself. I have no pretentions to winning anything, just being part of the whole thing is enough.. for this time :)

Then, I recently traced down an(other) article in Czech newspaper Lidove Noviny which deals with the Us Europeans project. It`s difficult to read for non-native Czechs but my friend Pavel translated the entire (!) article and even recorded this translation in an audio-file. This is stuff for die-hard Us Europeans fans!

What else is new... I have spent most of the last days working on the finalisation of the bid book for photo exhibition Crossroad Europe. Presentations of the results are planned for Tue 27 Jan in Luxembourg and Thu 29 Jan in The Hague. In between now and then, the booklets need to get printed, stitched together, I need to be in Brussels for something else on Sunday and Monday. Anyway.. Hectic times but all very inspiring, exciting and worthwhile. Keep following!

Photo below: Tranquillizer material.


( Berlin - DE, January 2009 )
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Russia in the news

Posted 21 January 2009 - Amstelveen (NL):


Even compared to the most culturally distant nations in Europe, Russia remains at least twice as different from Western Europe.

From what I have learnt, Russian culture is very passionate in both the positive and the negative sense. Traditions, etiquette and loyalty are very important. So is power. Crush the system or be crushed by it - possibly even in the most physical way.

The most dangerous jobs in Russia seem to be the ones that make their practitioners `stand out` or `stand up`. Lawyers, journalists and intellectuals, they all need to get themselves covered for what they do. They either have to operate under the radar, or they have to be so incredibly popular and well-known that they can feel feel secured by the public opinion or by leading politicians. But the public is not always sufficiently well-informed to have an opinion at all - they have got their own stuff to worry about - and leading politicians tend to save their loyalty for their superiours rather than their protegees. Complicated stuff and, more importantly, hardly predictable, for insiders as much as for outsiders.


( Berlin - DE, January 2009)
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Exhibition progress

Posted 22 January 2009, The Hague (NL):


News about the exhibition `Crossroad Europe` which is slowly materialising:

Ten copies of a `bid book` got printed yesterday and will be stitched together today. On Tuesday and Thursday, I will present my proposal to officials at the European Commission in Luxembourg and The Hague. Topic of the discussions: transforming the concept into a practical exhibition, deciding on the facilities to be provided... In short: taking the whole project to the next level.

Below photo: still hot from the printing machines...


( Amstelveen - NL, January 2009)
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European week ahead

Posted 26 January 2009 - Brussels (BE):


The real crisis has started to arrive in The Netherlands, with 16 500 lay-offs announced by Dutch companies just today.

As this could have been expected, I won`t expand on what I wrote on Monday of last week. As usual, I just be talking about me-myself- and-I.

I arrived in Brussels last night to attend a conference that unites blog authors interested in European affairs. It`s nice to, once again, meet so many people from different countries and have something in common with all of them. Even though I still have no clue of what I am going to blog about for these people, as I am not very interested in politics.

Anyway, highlights of the week will be Tuesday and Thursday, when I will present my plans for the photo exhibition `Crossroad Europe` to relevant authorities. I now also reserved a web domain (www.crossroadeurope.com and www.crossroad-europe.com), which as yet does not contain any information, hence the absence of hyperlinks. Coming soon.


( Brussels - BE, December 2008)
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European week nr. 2

Posted 27 January 2009 - Brussels (BE):


Hello from Brussels, where I have had the opportunity to meet lots of fellow Europeans from all of the 27 EU member states.

All of them, inclucing myself, have been invited to participate in the Think About It blogging competition. This competition aims to arise the awareness of people about the upcoming European Parliament elections. The initiative looks interesting: not so much for the political side but for the way it encourages people to meet each other and learn about each other`s different backgrounds. Which is the very same objective I set for the photo exhibition: allowing people to learn about one another.

My mission of this week, apart from being present at this event, is to help EU officials decide to adopt the exhibition `Crossroad Europe` and to facilitate its journey along, preferrably, all of the EU capitals. My stopover for today will be in Luxembourg. Exciting times... Stay tuned for updatums.


( Brussels - BE, January 2009 )
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Luxembourg impressed

Posted 29 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):


My trip to Luxembourg has been worthwile. My demo book for the exhibition `Crossroad Europe` received a warm welcome.

Steps ahead: 1) Present the same bid book in The Hague (Thursday), 2) Multiply this book by 50 and send it out to the 27 national representations of the European Commission, 3) Figure out about the `delivery method`: material to be used, logistic procedures.. Short: putting everything in practice. I will write more on Thursday.

Below photo: getting to Luxembourg.


( Ciney - BE, January 2009 )
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All things pass

Posted 29 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):


Last night, I attended a lecture by Mr Mark Pimlott, an English architecture and photographer who is exhibiting at art centre Stroom in The Hague.

Here`s a link to both the exhibition venue and the exhibited photographs:

- Stroom;

- Mark Pimlott`s All things pass.

I found below photo the most suitable one in my archive to match this post:


( Catania - IT, February 2009)
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Europeans in IKEA Family Live

Posted 31 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):


It`s been a hectic but pleasant week. Intermediary results of all projects: the snowball keeps rolling.

All meetings about the `Crossroad Europe` exhibition have produced favourable intermediary results. Luxembourg will produce and distribute another set of 50 demo books, The Hague is seeing into the budget for putting together 45 panels sized 2x3m.

At the same time, I am trying to find a cost-efficient way of producing a `Crossroad Europe` book, too. Nothing is sure, but all options are still open and I keep hoping for maximum results. The process involves a lot of juggling, but so did the travel part so - hey - what`s new :)

Below photo features Carolina and Lorenzo, my former classmates from Clermont. They appeared in `Ikea Family Live` earlier this winter and I now received two hard copies of the magazine. The short item (photo and text by August Media) mentions how Swedes and Italians have different ideas about family ties, in line with the original Us Europeans article. The next Ikea Family Live release will hopefully contain some of my Slovakian friends.


( PDF from magazine)
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