Amsterdam, that delightful city with its beautiful moats, medieval houses and entertaining hot-spots. But as everyone these days already seems to know about this one, we went to the other ‘dam’. Rotterdam. Where we fell in love instantly.
Sleeping amidst students
Rotterdam is a true student city. It has amazing hotels with fantastic views, however we chose to savour the atmosphere amidst the students at the ‘Student Hotel’. Here you’ll meet a mixture of Erasmus students and hip tourists. You can also get yourself some good grub for soft student prices or rent a bike to explore the city.
Blending in with the locals: take a bike!
If you don’t want to stand out as a tourist, the preferable mode of transportation is a bicycle. It’s a lot cheaper than public transportation, healthy and if you climb up the Erasmus Bridge a few times, you’ll leave town in better condition. In other words the perfect means to get anywhere. Just one side-note: the residents are incredibly friendly, but cycling-aggression is a real notion here.
New York, New York!
When in Rotterdam, look up! The entire city is an architectural gem. Hypermodern tall buildings in every shape imaginable. It’s the kind of city no one would dare to build, but the result is incredible. The old dilapidated structures increasingly give way to these architectural stunners. Although, it has to be said, those depots and warehouses tend to have a charm of their own.
One of the older buildings in town is the ‘Hotel New York’. This old edifice of the Holland-America line – from which passenger boats used to depart to New York – has been transformed into a hotel with a Hercule Poirotian air to it.
A few minutes further down by bike, another relic of past times lays in wait. The “SS Rotterdam”, a ship almost reminiscent of the Titanic. Tip: you can explore the entire ship or simply get a little taste of it accompanied with a drink in the prow.
Fenix Food Factory
During our 3 days visit in Rotterdam we returned here 3 times. I think that speaks for itself; this is our absolute number 1 in Rotterdam. Fresh pizzas, fresh bread, a coffee-roasting factory, an authentic butcher, fresh local vegetables, and a brewery … What else need we say? This place exudes Old Rotterdam in a new jacket, and overlooks the modern futuristic part of town.
“Uit je eigen stad” (Straight out of your town)
Transforming an old railway yard in the heart of port into one of Europe’s biggest community gardens? It’s possible. And it’s astounding. Surrounded by coarse industrial terrain, ‘Uit je eigen stad’ gives the impression of sauntering through a village.
You can come eat here any day throughout the week, and each Sunday a little market with local products takes place. I don’t think there is anything cooler than seeing a bearded, tattooed cook walk past you with fresh cut flowers and herbs, and having those served in your Gin Tonic 2 minutes later. Any food you order, grew 20 meters from where you’re seated by the way. Pretty amazing, no?
There is a direct tram and metro connection to take you there. Conversely, we did cheat a bit to get here, as it is located a little while from the city center and we were both fatigued from all the biking.
Water, boats, and port.
Port cities always have something special to them. They are not necessarily the most well-known cities, but always have a unique, fun atmosphere. Hamburg, Antwerp and Rotterdam. All of them are different yet share something common. I wouldn’t be able to say what it is exactly, but they exert a powerful attraction on us. There are always people working and striving onward. And I am sure that if I return to have a cup of coffee on the banks of the Meuse five years from now, Rotterdam will have a whole new array of surprises to offer once again.
Bas & Lien