We spent the last five days of our holiday in two cities: Liverpool and Rotterdam.
At first glance, these cities appear quite different - the scouser birthplace of the Beatles, and a north sea port. But look closer, and the similarities emerge.
Both are port cities. Both were bombed extensively during WW2. And both are reemerging, two very different phoenixes.
Built on the banks of the Mersey, Liverpool is embracing its heritage, restoring the older buildings of the port and the docks, and transforming the central city into a vibrant shopping area: Liverpool One.
Rotterdam, on the Maas, is the largest port in Europe and the third largest in the world. But rather than rebuilding as it was before the war, the city is embracing modern architecture. The place feels like a homage to concrete and steel.
Both these cities have space - especially along the banks of their respective rivers. They have exceptionally well-planned public areas. And they both have an air of vibrance; of excitement. As if they realise that it is possible to rebuild, to make a city better than it was before.