EN: Oh well, from all the Dutch cities, there’s only one that has nothing to do with the authentic NL. And if you think about it, how could you place so many office buildings and a skyline that competes with the one from Hong Kong or Montreal, right in the middle of the windmills, the canals and all those colorful houses, old since the Earth was created! Well maybe not precisely Hong Kong or Montreal, but you got the point 🙂 Things are simple with Rotterdam. This is the Dutch city where the money are made. The same money that are spent in Amsterdam. Simple as that. As well as Brazil has its Sao Paolo, full of corporate people and office buildings and at the counter pole the colorful and mad Rio, or why not, at a bigger scale, as well as the US have on one side the hard working New York and Los Angeles, full of colors and fun. And people say that Rotterdam is actually a kind of Manhatan on the Maas. Maas being the river that crosses the city 🙂 One thing is for sure, you know that you have entered Rotterdam from far, faaaar away, when you almost get lost in the mixture of spaghetti roads and when you feel the smell of petrol from the refineries. Mmmm, and we were actually hoping for some smell of stroopwaffles 😀
EN: And before we’ll start all the talking about Rotterdam, we feel guilty and we will like to justify all our mixed feelings about this city. Either we like, either we don’t, that’s the idea of the whole article, now that we re-read it. The problem is that before each vacation we document excessively about the place and we leave home with some already formed ideas. That’s exactly what has happened now. We were convinced that the visit to Rotterdam will not impress us at all (that’s the reason why we haven’t allocated more than 3-4 hours to spend here) and in the end it seems that it was completely the opposite! We won’t say that Rotterdam is the best Dutch city or that it surpasses Amsterdam. As its citizens would like to believe 🙂 Buuuut, it’s a lovely city, a kind of Hamburg as architecture and a kind of Berlin as atmosphere. And yes, it is true, sometimes it might seem like a city with no personality, as the old combines with the new, traditional with modern and so on and so forth, but at the end of the day, it is extremely interesting and it totally worths at least one day spending here. But if we were to choose between Amsterdam and Rotterdam we would for sure choose the first one. For all the reasons in the world 🙂 But hey, enough with this long and irelevant introduction, let’s talk about serious things now 🙂
EN: The funny thing is that these two cities, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, really consider themselves enemies! And they are not afraid of showing this, not at all. For example, we all know Amsterdam’s slogan “I AMsterdam”, in front of Rijksmuseum. Oh well, Rotterdam also has a similar slogan, “We’re Rotterdam”. Can you believe it?! 🙂 Or even more obvious that that, the line “Amsterdam has it, Rotterdam doesn’t need it”. But the biggest difference between the two cities is without any doubt, the architecture. And it couldn’t be different if you think that poor Rotterdam was destroyed almost completely in the second world war, and everything that has been reconstructed in terms of buildings is extremely modern. And it wasn’t hard for them to do this, as right after the war ended, all the affected areas have been expropriated, without any negotiation with the owners and a massive reconstruction began. Without looking back and without wanting to rebuild the old city, a new architectural plan was in place and Rotterdam has a completely new and different face than what it was before 1940.
EN: For example, the Cube House. Cube shaped houses we might have seen before in our lives, but inclining the cube at 45 degrees and than thrown on a pillar over a walk way… not that often 🙂 And the idea itself is genius, each house wants to simulate a tree (the pillar is the block of the tree and the house its branches), and all the houses symbolize a forest. Can someone argue with the fact that the Dutch people are eco? 🙂 But between you and me, the grey rooftops with the white peak remind us of the classic image of Mount Fuji, but hey, we’ll not call in question the artist’s vision 🙂 The only problem of the houses is the fact that even though they have a lot of space and they are built on three levels, not even a quarter of the space can be used. And if you suffer from claustrophobia, that’s quite sad 🙂 But just for the sake of the experience itself we would book a house on booking.com right away! Or why not, we can just visit the Kijk-Kubus (Show Cube), a prototype house made for the curious ones. In addition, next to the cube houses complex there is the Pencil Building, another mad construction. The Rotterdammers have quite an obsession with the modern architecture, and hey, it might not be typical Dutch, but it is truly impressive!
EN: As a small parenthesis for the ones that blame Rotterdam’s modern architecture, the city also has a traditional and authentic part, with Dutch houses and (few) canals and old wooden boats. It is Delfshaven, in the old harbor. And we’re saying this just to have it in written, in case we’re becoming to anti-Rotterdam in the article 🙂 We’ve also visited Delfshaven and it is true, the area is indeed beautiful, authentic and it has those typical Dutch houses, old boats, canals, bridges and cafes. Everything a Dutch would want to have at home 🙂 Except all those shaorma and lahmaciun places, at every corner of the street in Delfshaven, haha 🙂 Bu they, for cool restaurants and bar in Rotterdam there is a neighborhood called (paradoxically!) Cool! And it has a street, Witte de Withstraat, where people say there are the best restaurants and cafes in the city.
EN: And if we think about it, Rotterdam does have an ace up the sleeve and surpasses Amsterdam when it comes to its harbor 🙂 Yup, Rotterdam’s harbor is the biggest one in Europe and the third in the world. Amsterdam might have a harbor as well, but it is waaaaay less influential that the one in Rotterdam. So, let’s admit it, Rotterdam does it better! Oh, and another ace up the sleeve is the cost of living much lower than the one in the capital, which is now becoming worse than London when it comes to rents!
EN: And heeeey, we almost forgot! Market Hall, next to the cube houses, is simply gorgeous! A huge building, made as a central market, office building and apartments, finished in 2014. This is not just a place where you go shopping from the market, but a social place, full of restaurants, bars and all kind of places to eat. Obviously, the Dutch cheese is the star here, as well as french fries with mayo, stroopwaffles and raw herring sandwiches. What can you do, the Dutch people don’t have the most exquisite cuisine, haha 🙂 The main idea is that Market Hall is a touristic place and the view towards the Pencil Building is simply to die for!
EN: And if we reached the culinary recommendations, we found a really nice restaurant, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, in the harbor, in Delfshaven neighborhood. Actually it is a small farm, where all the products are 100% natural, they have a bunch of orchard houses and vegetables plantations, and the restaurant itself is a former container, decorated in an industrial style, with the kitchen exposed to view, wooden pallets and all kind of decorations that make you think that you’ve ended in a former factory. It looks gorgeous, the food is extremely good and just because it is far away from the touristic area, it is known by the locals only. It is called Uit je Eigen Stad and yes, it’s totally worth it! They have an apple pie that you can eat until you simply can’t get up from the chair 🙂
EN: Oh, and by the way! Rotterdam might be an industrial city but it really has some pretty amazing places! And one of them is the park below, but unfortunately we don’t know the name of it, as we discovered it completely by mistake, when trying to reach the Erasmus bridge, to take a photo with the skyline 🙂 We were complaining that we did not see the autumn leaves in The Netherlands, well, there they are 🙂
EN: All in all, the iconic buildings in Rotterdam are special, photogenic and there are certainly some architectural challenges that worth being mentioned. Or appreciated. But we have to admit it, the city itself doesn’t look like the regular NL that we know. It doesn’t have the wooden clogs, the windmills or the tulips. And in the end… that’s exactly what defines The Netherlands 🙂 But because we didn’t want to act like the Amsterdammers, who disregard Rotterdam for the same reasons, we gave the city a chance to prove the opposite. And even though none of us is crazy about the high tech and modernism of the city, it is interesting to see this totally different and maybe not so representative part of The Netherlands. In the end, we should all appreciate the will to transform the city completely after it has been destroyed by the Germans in the war. But for the conservatory ones, who love the exposed bricks, the canals and the wooden clogs, this might not be the ideal Dutch city 🙂 But it should be visited! Oh geez, we simply can’t decide at all :))