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by Patricia Gonzalez
It’s amazing how far you can go on a ship that has been moored for the last ten years. On our two-hour tour, we were transported to the ‘50s and ‘60s – to days of steamship technology when transatlantic journeys were run on turbine engines and stabilizers, boilers and condensers; to glamorous evenings when women in full-skirt silhouettes and stiletto heels wended their way through mid-century modern furniture aboard La Grand Dame. And, it being the first joint outing between the Tilburg, Breda and Eindhoven clubs, we met people from different parts of the world for whom the Netherlands is the current port of call. Our group included expats from Mexico, America, Spain, Australia, Germany, Lebanon, the Philippines, even a Dutch couple originally from Tilburg who migrated as far afield as Thailand and are now back in the Randstad.
What was it about the 38,645-ton ship that so fascinated us that we signed up for the outing? Maybe the SS Rotterdam appealed to the adventurer in us. We all left the safe, comforting haven of home to make a new life in a country not our own. Perhaps the many transformations of this colossal ocean liner spoke to us. A ship that has spent 12 years as a trans-Atlantic vessel, more than 20 as a cruise ship (when long-distance commercial flights replaced sea travel), and 4 as a hotel, restaurant, museum and visitor attraction is the epitome of adaptability. We, who’ve packed up our lives, our families and careers and adjusted to initially unfamiliar cultures, know that transitions are an inevitable part of migration. They have to be welcomed, embraced. But then again, maybe what brought our group together that Saturday morning was just the allure of looking out over the water, gazing at the Rotterdam skyline, sitting down to lunch on a sunny poolside deck or snacking on high tea petit fours, with the added convenience of being transported from our city to the Rotterdam port and back again.
Some journeys take you great distances. Others, like this one, are only a city or two away. But both can make you question how far you’ve come and appreciate where you are now.