My dearest Breda,
You are etched in my memory. The red bridge at the Valkenberg park, the little locks on the bridge at the harbour, the cheeky cows in the Markdal meadows, the curves of the Chassé theatre, and the lighthouse in the canal. I see the reflection of Bouvigne Castle in the water, the boardwalk at the Mastbos forest, and the umbrellas in the Zuidpoort passage. There’s an atlas of memories hidden in my thoughts, an atlas of moments that we experienced together.
From Winter to Summer
I hop from one year to the next, from winter to summer. One minute I hear the crunchy leaves and feel the chestnuts beneath my feet, that one autumn day at the Valkenburg park. I remember how that homemade lion costume was so terribly itchy, during that carnaval parade over twenty years ago. Suddenly, I’m seated next to my brother and sister, watching the very first Harry Potter film at the Grand Theatre. It’s the same theatre I visit today, to have a quick look inside the books. I remember the dozens of ice creams I ate with my friends, just so we could catch up with each other. Every time I sit on one of the benches at the Begijnhof courtyard, I escape into that same oasis of blissful peace and quiet. It’s almost automatic, connecting to a city through all of those moments and friendships. Before you know it, you can’t really do without it.
One minute I hear the crunchy leaves and feel the chestnuts beneath my feet, that one autumn day at the Valkenburg park.
But lately, you’ve been changing so much. New restaurants are popping up all across town and the Burgundian spirit is reaching its 21st-century heyday. What else could I have expected from the southern pearl of the Netherlands? The unapologetic hipster hotpots continue to multiply and the urban walls are under a spell that transforms the city’s palette. Every time I return, I’m taken by surprise when I see another new mural around the corner, an artwork made of bricks and pigments. The old train station survives in the archive, and it’s probably a good thing that those days are gone. On paper, we may have lost a museum, but we gained a municipal museum in its place. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles, I suppose.
Tuning into the Urban Rhythm
That endless creativity and impulse to innovate – at your own laid-back pace – that’s always been there. I recognise it in my own character, even after living somewhere else for a while. Or actually, maybe it’s precisely because I’m living somewhere else. Every time I step foot on the main square, I feel a wave of familiarity that washes over me. I tune into a melody that follows the same rhythm. The stubborn artists, the passionate music lovers, the nonchalant bon vivants; I can never find them the way I do at home. That’s what Breda means to me: we will celebrate every little ray of sunshine together.
The stubborn artists, the passionate music lovers, the nonchalant bon vivants; I can never find them the way I do at home. That’s what Breda means to me: we will celebrate every little ray of sunshine together.
I’m not going to sugar-coat it: Breda is a city I sometimes have to leave to achieve my dreams. At the same time, Breda is a city where anything is possible. A giant pink poopie on the central square, a blue sewer monster on the pavement near the park, or a summer fest where we all float in the harbour on inflatable boats. Why not? Go a little crazy, and Breda will join you in the fun. The city’s heart beats for its own people, and the doors are always open. No matter how much you change, nothing will ever change between you and me.
The Love Letter Project
The Globonaut Love Letter Project is a team effort by international travel enthusiasts that examines the fascinating relationship between cities and people. It is an exploration of how people make a city come alive, but also how a city becomes part of who you are. Most of all, the Love Letter Project is a celebration of strong local bonds in an age of rapid globalisation, showing how local and global aren’t necessarily opposite terms.