Wear Sunscreen

An historian's view on life, love and leisure

Category: Travel (page 1 of 2)

Hallelujah and Armistice Day

For the past two days, everything people are talking about, all over the world, is the election of Donald Trump as the new president of the USA.

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How to achieve total #freedom in 5 easy steps

Russia

Disconnect

Step one: switch off your phone, your tablet, your pc, your laptop, your TV and every other machine that seems to be controlling your life. Instant freedom.

Have you ever travelled to a place without Wi Fi or an internet connection? With no newspapers and no network coverage whatsoever?

After experiencing some minor withdrawal symptoms and panic attacks (the dreaded FOMO), you will quickly realize nobody really misses you, your friends can eat pizza without you, the 3.685 newsletters you receive each day will still be there to be deleted without a second glance when you get back, your colleagues were glad to be left alone for a change, and your cat did not die.

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Keeping busy: what I’ve been doing in the past few weeks

Leaving the harbour of Ostend (Belgium).

Leaving the harbour of Ostend (Belgium).

These past few weeks have flown by so quickly. I finished editing a book, spent about a month travelling in July/August and have just started my own business. I don’t even know where to start…

The book I’m talking about is actually a volume I edited with a Dutch colleague on the dynastic identity of early modern aristocratic families, which will normally be published in December of this year by Ashgate publishers. If you want to know more about it, you can find details on their website. It took us about 4 years to finish it, I don’t think either one of us imagined it to take that long. Not that this in itself is an exception in academia, my husband is waiting on a publication to come out which he wrote about 8 years ago…. So things could be worse 😉

The good thing about finishing a project, any project, is the mental rest that comes with it. After I sent my final e-mail this Saturday,  I felt completely exhausted. I couldn’t think of anything else, I just wanted to go to sleep early. I’m still really tired strangly enough, but it also feels as though my head is clearing up and new ideas are slowly filling it up again. That feels so wonderful!

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Conferences, coffee and jolly good company

Humboldt University

Humboldt University at Unter den Linden in Berlin, Germany: the location of the latest conference I went to in March of this year.

 

Contrary to what one might think, the best thing about conferences is not the exchange of knowledge. The best thing is meeting new people and catching up with old friends.

 

I once heard say that the whole idea of attending conferences is old-fashioned. Most companies have long ago decided conference calls are much more efficient, cheaper and faster. Since a couple of years, the internet has taken over, Skype is a wonderful thing, TED-talks inspire people all over the world.

So scholars who still travel around the globe to listen to a paper they might just as well read at home, are apparently completely out of date. Although I personally do feel we might want to “update” the whole conference experience a little bit, people who think the concept is obsolete simply do not get it.

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Travel Tip: Processions in Belgium

Hanswijk procession in Mechlin

The procession in honour of Our-Lady-of-Hanswijk in Mechlin

 

Going to see processions might be an unlikely travel tip. However, if you want to get to know the ‘real’ culture of Belgium, it’s not enough to eat chocolate and drink beer. No matter how secularised Belgian society might seem today, religion still plays an important, albeit somewhat hidden, role. Alright, I’ll be completely honest, at the ‘kermesse’ following these processions we do drink a lot of beer, and eat fries, and drink some more, and eat some chocolate…

A few weeks ago on 10 May I went to see the Hanswijk procession in the city of Mechlin (Mechelen in Dutch or Malines in French). The Hanswijk procession, or Procession in the honour of Our-Lady-of-Hanswijk, is reported to be the eldest procession in Belgium, dating from the 13th century.

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