After what seemed like a quick few days in The Hague, we set off for a weekend in Rotterdam.
It was our first real destination this trip, and I was looking forward to the modern architecture. It’s not to say that I don’t absolutely love old architecture (because I do), but modern designs are rarely spotted while you’re in Europe.
And when they are, they’re brilliant.
Built along one of the few deep water ports, the city is fed by the North Sea and a coastal breeze fills the air.
In no more than 20 minutes, we arrived at our destination, bright eyed and excited for a new adventure. We got off the train and set forth to our wonderful hotel for the evening.
We accidentally took a wrong turn somewhere along the transit route, however, and ended up going on a bit of a detour. But, with only thirty minutes or so lost, we weren’t upset about it.
Our digs for the evening were at the Hotel New York. A beautiful old building, which used to be the headquarters for the Holland-America line. We could imagine young Dutch lads and ladies standing at the port just outside our window, standing atop giant ships and waving at their loved ones as they set off on a new journey. Full of hope, and perhaps a bit of sadness, it was these emigrants that made their way straight to New York, building a Dutch population here in North America. The rich history that filled the hotel was one of the biggest drawing points for us, and the fact that it was situated in the perfect location was the cherry on top.
We walked into the hotel which was filled with nostalgia and decorated with nautical colours and accents, and checked into our quite large room. The king sized bed was covered in luxurious French linens, and sprinkled with candies to welcome us.
I cracked open the two sets of windows, letting the light and the sea breeze flood in, and immediately spotted the Erasmus Bridge (or, Erasmusbrug). It was a bit of a cloudy day, but the beautiful white structure was still clearly visible, guiding you to the city centre.
We decided to relax for a few moments and truly enjoy our settings, making a coffee and tea and planning out our journey. After spending the past week in an older studio apartment, this room felt like a dream and I was set on enjoying it.
Rotterdam Tourist Information had provided us with a great list of things to do, places to eat, and walking tours, which we delved into, deciding to combine everything into one lengthy tour of the city and all its sights.
Revamped, changed, and with comfortable shoes on, we set on out to see what the city had to offer.
First, walking along the port and discovering our side of Rotterdam, as water taxi’s whizzed by and the water gently gurgled past.
The Hotel New York is a bit of a destination itself, and you can take a mini walking tour around all the historic points and features.
But, no matter where we were, we always made sure to stop and look back at the Erasmus.
Having been destroyed in the war, the rebuild of Rotterdam is really fascinating, especially since they decided to forgo traditional European designs and create something new.
Perfectly combining older brick buildings and newer modern materials, the views along the port were fabulous.
And, along the way, we even managed to catch one of the bridges as it rose, making way for a high-end boat to come sailing through.
We then landed in a beautiful inner city park, filled with large flowers and buzzing bees…
Before crossing over yet another grand bridge and into Noordereiland.
To be honest, some of the best views of the city can be seen over water, atop one of the many fine bridges. And, I highly recommend crossing as many as you can and taking in every angle. And, with all that walking, you can really treat yourself later on :p
Immediately we began to take notice at how architects matched different colours, materials, and shapes and sizes to create something truly individual.
As we walked up and around the centrum, we found ourselves in the middle of a bustling market, known as Blaak Mrkt.
The scent, the colours, the price of flowers – I almost died, is this heaven? There were roses upon roses, large sunflowers, and so many other kinds I had never seen before.
Funnily enough, I had seen pictures of the Blaak Markt and Markthall building long ago, which portrayed Rotterdam as an up and coming city, with interesting architecture and a youthful atmosphere.
I had since forgotten about the building itself, but that idea of Rotterdam always stayed with me. Happening upon this spot naturally, those feelings were solidified and I was immediately jealous of anyone who lives close to this hub of fresh food and intense flavour.
Walking through the market, we stumbled between stalls, showcasing everything from fresh fruit, bread, spices, fish, and meat. It reminded me a lot of the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, except much larger.
Even better, the market is actually set inside a mixed use building. If I lived here, I might never leave.
In addition to all of the little booths, there were restaurants sprinkled throughout, with large patios both inside and outside the market – to accommodate any weather conditions. Although you may normally find a market hall to be quite dark and secluded, the paintings on the walls, round shape, and windows at either end made this one quite the cool destination.
By this time, our feet were begging for a break, so we selected a Greek restaurant in the Markthall and tucked in for a feast in the now shining sun.
Surrounded by feta, gyros, fries, and greek salad, I couldn’t be happier.
That is, until I discovered this fizzy iced tea. And maybe a slice of apple cake.
On the way out, we crossed back through the booths, where I made one more glance through the offerings.
Ultimately, I couldn’t resist purchasing a carton of strawberries and a bag of cherries – for a mere 5 euros total. I can’t even begin to describe just how flavourful the strawberries were because they were like nothing I had ever tasted. This, I thought to myself, is what a true strawberry is supposed to taste like.
I was unable to resist popping strawberry after strawberry into my mouth, and I think Cole got increasingly annoyed with my enduring comments of “yum” and “you HAVE to eat one of these”. But, seriously, these photos really sum up how I was feeling:
There is so much more we discovered while walking through Rotterdam, so I’m going to break these posts up into two.
So, for now, to be continued…
The making of this post was made possible by Rotterdam Tourist Information, who provided me with the best set of recommendations ever, ensuring that we got a real picture of the city and what it has to offer. I would highly recommend getting in touch with them before your trip, as there is truly so much to see, do, and eat – and they are experts in each of those areas.
This post was also made possible by a collaboration with Hotel New York, who provided us with a stay at their beautiful hotel for the evening. The location, beauty, history, and price all make this hotel a tremendous stay, and one that I would highly recommend, even if it’s only for one night.