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Almost seven years in this country and not one visit to Rotterdam! I was a bit ashamed of that, I have to admit, but I finally solved the issue during my staycation last week. It was a day-trip which allowed me to see only a bit of the city, on a day with alternating weather and changing light, as well as changing moods. My moods. A lot of walking, photography and a twisted ankle.

Someone should have told me before going to Rotterdam that it’s not one of those places you walk your way around. Especially not after walking over 25 km the previous day. This was my mistake when visiting the city: not using the public transport to move from one place to the other. Another not very happy circumstance was the weather: a gloomy, foggy, cold day — that is, until 3 pm. After that, the sun came out from behind the clouds, helping me look at the city with different eyes for a couple of hours.

Rotterdam is not my kind of city, hence my reluctance to visit in all these years. The traffic on the main streets, especially, puts me off in a blink of an eye. Or a honk of a car, better said. And although I appreciate the skyscrapers and hip/industrial areas as pieces of architecture and I can see they have a certain charm, they are not on top of my favourite things. I’m all for the old buildings, bricks, paved narrow streets. These being said and put out of the way, I can tell you what I did LIKE about the city. There is no doubt that Rotterdam is a very picturesque city, quite unique in the Netherlands and I enjoyed taking pictures of it. I fell in love with some areas — those close to the water, naturally!

I started my walk towards the city from the Central Station, and walking along the canal was lovely for a while: ruffling the rusty leaves with my feet, stopping to buy an oliebol and smile at the famous statue of Santa, watching the dogs playing in the piles of leaves. After a while, I was already tired and it seemed that the canal will never end and I will walk forever looking for the Erasmus Bridge. Many steps later and me becoming angry with the noisy cars continuously passing by, I had a glimpse of the bridge. It’s a striking construction, impressive against the surrounding skyline and completing it with success. I crossed it to get to the island where the famous New York Hotel and the Photomuseum are located. Once I reached the island and walked along the Nieuwe Maas River, I started to calm down and enjoy the day. It was quiet and I had a scenic view.

Nieuwe Maas River

I didn’t have time to visit the New York hotel on the inside — it will have to be there for my next visit. The hotel’s building used to be the former headquarters of the Holland-America Line and is situated close to the place from where the ships used to depart for New York, carrying the European immigrants in a search for a better life, in the 19th and 20th century.

I visited the Nederlands Fotomuseum instead — a place I’ve been wanting to see for a while. I went to the Fenix Food Factory for a late lunch, then I realised I could cross back to the “mainland” in a very cool way: with a water taxi. This taxi is not for the faint-hearted. It drives at high speed and makes such sharp turns you expect the boat to flip over — but it doesn’t. I enjoyed it, although my knees were shaking when I tried to stand back on solid ground.

The taxi took me to Delfshaven, in the search for the old part of the city – but all I’ve seen was a windmill and many concrete blocks. I was too tired and with a freshly twisted ankle to even try to find my way through the blocks so I postponed this for the next time as well. I passed by the Euromast, then walked a bit along the Westerkade to see the beautiful sunset and headed towards Witte de Withstraat where I stopped for some fries and a bit of cheerful atmosphere. The street looked much more interesting than when I passed by earlier, at 1 pm . It looked like it was the place for everyone to be for some fun on a Friday evening. But I was dreaming about my cosy couch at that point, so I left.

I took the train to Amsterdam and could barely walk when I stepped off in Amsterdam Centraal, but luckily my bike was there to the rescue! I will go back to Rotterdam to see the rest of the city, to visit friends, and I’m curious if I will grow to love it, as some people claim it will happen.

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