Pardon the pun but I suspect it is preferable over any ear-worm-inducing alternatives. (You’re probably humming That Song to yourself now anyway so whatever…)
My love and I have been to Rotterdam and damn, it was great. I initially wanted a little UK hotel break to kick off my extended birthday celebrations (it’s this Thursday, fact-fans). However, as neither of us drive, finding a nice place to visit and paying for rail travel in the UK means it is actually kinda cheaper and better value for us to hop over to Europe. Confusing mathsy economical things and good Dutch value means hanging out and eating in restaurants on the Euro costs less than a Big Weekend in London may have, anyway.
We managed to pack loads in without feeling rushed or too exhausted, in spite of huge torrential downpours – including the biggest thunderstorm either of us have ever been caught in.
Luckily we don’t really mind the rain (which… well, yknow. Londoners…) and sometimes you just hit the point where you can’t actually get any wetter and all you can do is laugh and get on with it…
We’re not too keen on planning city breaks too thoroughly, but maps and vague ideas are great and what we missed when planning our trip was any sort of guide. We had this great book for our holiday in Budapest and it was really handy. Other than the hard-to-find Wallpaper city guide, there isn’t much reading for Rotterdam so I thought I’d do the decent thing and provide some for anyone thinking of visiting. It also doubles up as a neat little diary of our trip (peppered with iPhone-only snaps due to my shoulders needing too much of a rest for SLR-lugging). So. In no particular order…
8 great tips for visiting Rotterdam
1 – Erasmusbrug
We set off on a long old self-guided walking tour, marveling in the incredible architecture and attention to careful design and Town Planning on every street and found ourselves stranded half way across this stunning 1990s cable-stayed bridge. Rather than your average panoramic landscape of the swan-shaped structure, here’s a photo of me stuck waiting to cross as the bascule (upsy-downy) section – the biggest and heaviest of its kind – opened, revealing an Inception-style sight we wont forget in a hurry.
2 – Water Taxi
The best five minutes of our trip by far (that’s what she said etc). Forget hour-long harbour cruises and sightseeing pancake boats (although still kinda wish we’d gone on the pancake boat). When your feet are fed up of walking and you want to whiz back to your hotel in a hurry, take your life in your hands and clamber on to what is essentially a terrifying cross between a jet ski and Crazy Taxi. I spent the entire time laughing hysterically with my mouth wide open in terror/delight, reminding myself that it’s OK because I know how to swim.
3 – Boijmans Van Beuningen and Museumpark
Fantastic collection of paintings and art, including an amazing selection of Eduardo Paolozzi collage prints (one of my faves) and the greatest cloakroom of all time:
We didn’t make it in to the Het Nieuwe Instituut (architecture & design) further than the bookshop, but the building itself is incredible.
4 – Euromast
Even if the cheesy touristy stuff isn’t really your bag, Rotterdam is flat, green and watery enough for the view from the top of the Euromast to be worth a go, even if just to help you get your head around the sprawling landscape.
We rushed up there as the clouds had finally (briefly) parted and enjoyed the most delicious tomato soup with tarragon cream, enjoying the view, interrupted by frequent abseilers stopping to wave through the windows…
I also tried this fresh delicious raw salmon salad open-faced sourdough sandwich. Completely delicious and so filling that we ended up skipping dinner in favour of a late night room service mini-bar raid instead.
5 – Cube Houses
Put London’s Barbican residences through a 1980s Picasso/Mondrian filter, fill with plants, angles and colour. I would move in to one of these in a heartbeat. One is open as a museum and is well worth the minimal entrance fee to spend time pretending you live there (and wondering why your house is full of nosy tourists).
6 – The Hague
20 minutes by train out of the impressive new Rotterdam Central station, The Hague ticks the history boxes Rotterdam’s architecture misses out on and is full of fresh, sweet air blowing in from the coast.
Our Sunday visit included a stroll around the big brilliant antiques market and a tram out to the Gemeentemuseum to gawp at the impressive DeStijl and Mondrian exhibits.
7 – Lunch at Hotel New York
Fresh hot steamy mussels to share with Proper Chips and garlic mayonnaise, in the huge space formerly occupied by the Holland America Line. History, stylish decor, dramatic views out to the Maas (although possibly due to the aforementioned impending thunderstorm) and helpful staff made this the perfect first meal in Rotterdam.
8 – Delft
Despite arriving after the museums and ceramic fun had closed for the day (we stopped off on our way back to Rotterdam from The Hague – same train line and no extra ticket cost), we both absolutely loved it here.
Gorgeous shopfront of an old-style barber shop in Delft
The craft and creative spirit of the place is obvious as soon as you arrive.
We got to climb right up to the sails of the recently restored windmill and had a gorgeous evening stroll around the canals, spying on perfectly designed canal-side living-rooms and gardens.
Huge thanks to Frankie for sending us her excellent Rotterdam tips, reviews and general wanderings which was our only real attempt at ‘planning’ for this trip – a real help. Yay for Twitter!