Rotterdam? Why should one go to Rotterdam? For some reason, tourism in the Netherlands has focussed on Amsterdam – it is the hotspot of adolescent stoner culture worldwide. Thus far nothing to complain about, Amsterdam is a place you should experience.
To everyone who is interested in something else in addition to nightlife and coffee shops, I can only recommend Rotterdam!
You need arguments?
- Overnight stays in hotels and hostels are much cheaper than in most places in Amsterdam – even in the city center, from where you can easily reach many interesting spots in Rotterdam by foot.
- Rotterdam is, even during peak season, not as crowded as Amsterdam.
- The city is a single gallery of exceptional architecture, starting with the central station. Even if you do not care for architecture too much, you ‚ll be amazed!
Here are a few suggestions of what you should not miss in Rotterdam:
An example of the unusual architecture in Rotterdam is the main station ‚Rotterdam Centraal‚. The construction has just been completed and it has been officially opened by the Dutch king on 13th March 2014. The station building may look deliberately eccentric from the outside, but it offers a lot of space for a station, a large train station lobby – and the longest video screen that I have seen in my life so far! The widest of all widescreen formats has been born here – 16:9 is not even close…
The Zoo and Botanical Garden of Rotterdam ‚Diergaarde Blijdorp‚ has a good reputation. It is considered one of the best zoos in the Netherlands, and it does not consist of cages but of topical areas (one for each continent). It is definitely worth a visit – but recently, it has also got pricelessly good publicity in addition: A former zoo staff member, who is now terminally ill, has a heartwarming goodbye scene with the giraffe that he had taken care of for many years. This goodbye was one of his last wishes, and it was made possible by the Dutch organization „Ambulance Wens“ (English: „Ambulance Wish Foundation“). The „Ambulance Wish Foundation“ is an organization that tries to fulfill the last wishes of seriously ill people. It transports sick people into football stadiums or allows them to say goodbye to their family. The Foundation was established in 2007.
Here is the photo of the bitter-sweet, half sad, half-grateful farewell, on the website of the Ambulance Wens: http://www.ambulancewens.nl/wensen/2014/03/139-de-kus-van-de-giraf
The artists‘ quarter, or rather the artists street is the Witte de Withstraat. In the windows of the Galleries „Witte de With“ and „TENT“ there is always contemporary, modern art to see – whether painting, sculpture or installation. The Witte de Withstraat used to be a red light district once – and you can still tell, because between the galleries it is full of bars, pubs, unusual venues and young people. For the slightly more alternative taste, the venue WORM is worth a visit – but the program changes: Almost every day you get either a concert, film screening, performance, information evening or workshop. The WORM is a multimedia center for music and media art outside the mainstream, that calls itself the „Institute for avant-garde recreation“ („instituut voor recreatie avant-garde“).
The Euromast is a lookout tower and part of the standard program in Rotterdam. From the rotating platform, you get a great view over the city. The tower is located on the edge of the park (‚Het Park‘), which is well worth a walk in good weather. Lately, the Euromast also offers new, more adventurous tourists attractions: you can, for example, rappel from the Euromast from more than 100m height. On the platform of the tower, there is now, in addition to the restaurant, also a small hotel.
Unique Architecture – living space and art object: The cube houses between market square and the Old Harbour. They were designed by Dutch architect Piet Blom and built between 1978 and 1984. The individual residential cubes are partially owned by private tenants, but there are also a few shops, an art gallery, a hostel – and one of the cube is a museum where you can visit the exemplary interior of such a flat (Admission: about 3 Euro, www.kubuswoning.nl).
A little further, in the Old Harbour (‚Oude Haven‚), you can marvel at Europe’s first skyscraper: the ‚Witte Huis‚.
The ‚Old Holland‘, that one typically imagines, can most likely be encountered in Delfshaven district. in the past centuries, many pilgrims ships set off from here for their passage to America, the ’new world‘. Worth seeing around the museum harbour are the typical old merchant buildings, a windmill – and of course museums where you can learn more about the history of the Pilgrims.
Also culinary Rotterdam has some highlights to offer – apart from the typical Dutch food automats for fried fast food specialties such as Frikandel, fries & Co.:
In the Hotel Bazaar at Witte de Withstraat you can not only have an overnight-stay in Moroccan-Arabian atmosphere, but also a great meal in a surrounding designed in rich detail: The menu consists of African and Arab dishes, vegetarians will also find a great variety of meals here. Despite its popularity (in the evening, a reservation is advisable!), and the high quality of food, you can still eat quite cheap here.
Special parts of the decoration, such as the Moroccan lamps, are also on sale at the reception. – www.hotelbazar.nl
In the Open Cafe (Jacobusstraat 215) you will find a decent selection of vegetarian and organic dishes, mainly Italian-style (pasta and salads), and also fresh sandwiches & toasties. The restaurant is relatively small, it can be tough to get a seat without a reservation – but the location is worth a visit, the house with the real old wood floor and the matching tables and chairs has a simple charm. – http://open-restaurant.eu
For a quick snack in the downtown area you can also turn to an Italian Panini place – instead of the Dutch alternative ‚Frikandel‘ and Friet special: The Italian Panini booth („Panini Italiaanse Broodjeszaak„, Binnewegplein 7c) in the middle of shopping street is known for its good quality and authentic Italian and mediterranean ingredients, such as Mortadella, chorizo, pesto, basil and dried tomato.
For a coffee break, Café Dudok is recommendable – it is reminiscent of a coffee house, as one would expect it in Austria or Hungary. It is located in a large room with high ceilings, and even has a „reading counter “ – you can sit here to read one of the newspapers hanging out here like in a library, and have a cozy cup of coffee and cake at the same time. – http://www.dudok.nl
– And yes: There are also coffee shops in Rotterdam!