I had the opportunity to take the Thalys a couple of times recently, from Rotterdam to Paris and back. For those readers unfamiliar with Northern France and the Benelux area, Thalys is the high speed train linking Paris to Amsterdam and Köln. Thalys is relatively fast and confortable, but that's not really my point today. Thalys (a joint venture between French SNCF, Belgian SNCB and Dutch NS train companies) has the pretention to offer to its customers a cultural grasp of the countries crossed by its red carriages. This comes under the form of a magazine, in four languages, covering different aspects such as hotels, gastronomy, museums, art exhibitions, fashion or travel advices, called the Thalyscope.
Well, unfortunately, if Thalyscope is a nice attempt at reaching a mulicultural public, here is the scoop: the quality of the content is, to say the least, limited. Here is an exemple drawn from last issue I read. Thalyscope was having an article on Rotterdam. I happen to know the city pretty well, as most of you may know. And here came my surprise: according to Thalyscope, Delftshaven is the only area of Rotterdam which was undamaged in the heavy bombing of the town during Second World War. And you can find there the Ooievaar, the only "bruin cafe" of Rotterdam... Despite issuing this shattering scoop, Thalyscope failed to mention the presence in the very same area of Pilgrim, the house where the Pilgrim Fathers gathered before embarking the Mayflower and a very nice cafe too.
So please, to the numerous inhabitants of Noord, Oude Noord, Kralingen, Hillegesberg, Noordeiland, Entrepots, Endrachtsplein or Scheepwartsquartier, your area has been either bombed to the ground by German or US warplanes or you have lost your status of Rotterdam "burgers"! No? Well, at least that's what Thalyscope implies... And it is a "cultural" publication. And of course, regular customers of Melief Bender, Cafe Timmer, Concordia, Big Ben Cafe or 't Fust, please remember that you are not enjoying the particular atmosphere of Dutch traditional brown cafes but of vulgar lame bars. Here are my illusions going...