A few days ago I was in Den Helder, a small town on the northernmost corner of the province of North Holland. It is one of those spots where you get a sense of being at the end of Europe. A place where you literally feel like you’re standing at the edge of the continent, staring into the far and unknown. The main base of the Dutch navy, Den Helder, like so many other naval bases on the fringes of Europe, seems to live in the glory of its long gone Empire days. Its main attraction is the naval museum of Gargantuan proportions, which gives an excellent overview of the rise and fall of a sea-going empire.
At the end of Europe, you feel slightly out of place, and find yourself wondering how and why you got here and when is the first train back. Also, you suspect that the locals have been having these feelings their entire lives. The fringes of the continent are drowning in a sea of melancholy and purposelessness, a feeling strengthened in Den Helder by the omnipresent wind. It blows clear and strong, salty and fresh, it clears your mind and you start understanding the mood of those who sailed away from places like this on epic voyages into the vast sea, to boldly go where no one has gone before (yes, I’m a nerd). Anywhere but Den Helder.