Sunday mornings are my favourite time in a small European country. The streets are deserted, just the soft whispering of the Saturday night litter is breaking the silence. The only people you meet are early runners (like me), dog-walkers and late drunks. I love how the place is stripped of its inhabitants, like in a sci-fi movie. The city is then somehow naked without the usual crowds. The scarcity of people you meet makes you extra attentive to the ones you do see. It is a unique experience in a big city (and even big European cities are empty on a Sunday morning) to actually recognize faces on the street and not just a blur of people. Now that I have an alarm clock that I can’t ignore (she’s almost two now, and VERY lively), I often am up and running as early as 6 in the morning. And I love it – seeing and hearing my city slowly awakening, literally feeling the buzz picking up pace, slowly at first, but then suddenly everything speeds up to an avalanche race. Then the church bells start, and as if by a wave of a magic stick, within half an hour the whole place is up and awake again, the city is alive with its cars, trams, coffee shops (of both kinds), shops are open and the crowds are all out there, again, as if there was no Sunday morning, and the city beats and blows its horns for a whole week, until its briefly entirely mine again, just for a couple blessed hours of a run through the empty streets. Sunday mornings are best.
All good things come to an end though. As of January 1st, stores in the centre of Rotterdam will be allowed to open on Sundays at 8:00 instead of 12:00. Having lived in Germany, where bakeries are open at 7:00 every day, including Sundays, I can appreciate the comfort of getting fresh bread rolls for your Sunday breakfast. But I doubt the new opening hours will get the Dutch to shop on Sunday mornings. And since I really do enjoy these exclusively quiet hours, I am probably going to vote for a Christian fundamentalist party in the next municipal elections. They seem to be the only ones who still support the Sunday’s rest.