środa, 14 listopada 2012

What happened to the Rhine?

- Where is Rhine? - my dad looks surprised while studing a map of the Netherlands.
- What do you mean where... - we're laughing with my mom - just where it should be.
- Oh really? That look at the map! It goes through half of Europe and suddenly dissapears after crossing the dutch border! - he insists - And where does the Waal begin?
I had no freakin' clue. I actually started wondering why I never thought about that. Waal is quite a big, wide river... a river like that should be quite visible on a map of Europe, but somehow I have never heard about it before I met Maurice. I don't remember this name from my high school times when I had to memorize the names of all bigger rivers in Europe. Hmm... that's a mistery!
- Look - my dad is pointing at the map - Waal is actually the Rhine... They changed the name of the river!

So let's have a look at the map, shall we?

source: wikipedia
I did some internet research, checked the maps very detailed and this is what I learned. The Rhine splits into three flows just after crossing the german-dutch border: Waal, Nederrijn and Ijssel. Most of the Rhine's waters flow from now on as Waal. To make it even more complicated, by the time it reaches the North Sea it's already called differently. The Waal and the Nederrijn (Lower Rhine) are spliting on smaller distributaries, connecing with others and magically changing names out of nowhere. Just like in a good soep-opera: one big mess!Try to follow everything that's happening there with these dutch rivers, it's not that simple. The more interested ones can check details on wikipedia, cause I'm already getting a headache from all these names. And I always thought that the Dutch were such a practical nation, who doesn't like to make things more complicated than it's needed...

I also tried to figure out why do they actually use name Waal instead of how the river was called before it crossed the border (like they do in any normal country). Or why the name Nederrijn was given to the smaller flow. I did not find the answer for these questions. However I learned that the name Waal comes from some old germanic language and was used already by Romans (of course in a bit different form). Now I see only one explenation for this riddle: the Dutch decided to force their own idea to the rest of Europe. They like doing that. They may have a small country, but a huge idea of it and of themselves and they like todo everything their own way (which by the way is according to them the one and only right way)

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