Getting blown away in Rotterdam

Netherlands – bicycles, windmills, canals, tulips, weed and specific architecture; I have been twice as a teenager and always wanted to travel there again. I mostly remember Amsterdam and some other locations like The Hague and Delft, but when it comes to Rotterdam, I completely forgot everything about the city apart from the big Euromast tower so, naturally, we had to go again and refresh my memory.

View of Erasmusbrug from the shore.
View of Erasmusbrug from in front of photography museum

Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and 3rd busiest in the world, yet, as a tourist destination, it is still quite neglected compared to the country’s capital, Amsterdam. If you managed to get to Rotterdam without knowing about its significance in the maritime industry, you’re not the first one. However, seeing massive cargo ships cutting through the river and going under the big Erasmus bridge will quickly make you aware of the magnitude of the shipping industry to be found in the city.

My first two trips to the Netherlands were done by bus (I really do not miss those 30+ hours in an uncomfortable bus seat). This time, we took the train.

I love travelling by train and once I realised we can get to the Netherlands with the Eurostar, my eyes sparkled and tickets were bought immediately.

Getting to the Pancras station was easy, but navigating there through the lines and lines of people, not as much. Thankfully, there were loads of helpful staff navigating you to where you needed to go. It also helped not to have to think about liquid and various other restrictions that are applied to air travel. Being able to have your takeaway coffee with you through security was another big plus; they even have cup holders to make sure your drink does not spill.

Always take the train if you have the option (and it doesn’t cost the earth).

Once in Rotterdam…

Once in Rotterdam, getting around is quite easy; one-way tickets valid for 60 mins are €3. We used public transport to get to our Airbnb but otherwise, we walked everywhere, it is the best way to see most of the city so put comfy shoes on! Rotterdam is not really that big but it still requires a bit of planning or at least an outline of things you would like to see/do.

Here are a few things we did.

By The Nieuwe Maas (the river)

Delfshaven was our first stop towards the town centre. It’s a little part of town with a picturesque harbour. In the past, the locals here earned their living by fishing and by distilling gin. Did you know the Dutch actually invented gin? Yeah, they did and they introduced it to the Brits. Well, their king did (William III) while he was on the Irish, Scottish and English throne.

You won’t find many tourists in Delfshaven, but it is worth a stroll through.

After Delfshaven, we continued towards the Museumpark, the cultural heart of Rotterdam famous for its six museums. It is pretty big (around 10 acres) and boasts a sculpture garden as well.

Spice stall at the Fenix Food Factory

Crossing the impressive Erasmusbrug we found the Photography museum and the famous New York hotel. Another thing we stumbled across was Fenix Food Factory, a perfect place to take your first break and grab a bite to eat and wash it down with a drink.

This is the place where we had the best beer on this trip. You can get many different types of craft beer and the prices are more or less ok (a bit lower than in London). Food wise, nice selection of pastries, cheese platters, sandwiches, and also a bit more substantial meals.

Continuing our exploration, we went towards the Markthal market and the Cube house area. It’s not too far to walk and you can walk through the Maritime museum outside area and see the Kraken!!!

One note about the Markhtal market – as with every other public toilet in the Netherlands, you have to pay for it. This one is €1 and you get 50 cents back to use in one of the stores/stalls so if you need to go and wanna do some shopping, do so before so you can use the vouchers. Just bear in mind not everyone will take the vouchers so ask before. Oh, we bought 2 massive avocados for only €1 so you can get a good bargain.

One thing we got from our trek around Rotterdam is that it seems not to have one main centre, more of a couple of smaller centres that each have something of their own going for them.

If the main reason you are visiting the Netherlands is easy access to smoking weed, you will find plenty of coffee shops here. We went to the one called The Reef and the interior is amazing! Underwater meets cyber culture – to make it a bit more interesting, there was a shark with a laser on its head and a really funky octopus.

Rotterdam by night is quite a beautiful site even with the wind blowing mercilessly but that’s apparently what you get when you are in a city by the river 😀 To keep warm you can go to one of the bars in Witte de Withstraat which is so colourful and full of people it makes you want to cancel all your plans and just sit down and enjoy the evening.

On the second day, we decided to take it easy as we only had half a day before our transport to Amsterdam. We had a leisurely stroll to town through Het Park ( where we saw the Euromast there) up to the centre, saw a big gnome holding a ginormous butt plug and some other weird and wonderful statues (like a transformer!), including Rodin’s L’homme qui marche.

We decided to spend the last hour grabbing a nice cold beer in one of the bars in Witte de Withstraat. It was a good day.

Rotterdam really is a place of many wonderful things, some that you probably wouldn’t expect to find (like the gnome with the butt plug statue) We believe it deserves more hype and to be out of Amsterdam’s shadow, a tourist hot spot in its own right.

Have you ever visited Rotterdam? What was your impression?

2 thoughts on “Getting blown away in Rotterdam

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