Rotterdam in 48 hours
Rotterdam is a city of weird, ugly and amazing skylines. An idealist utopian architecture , It is rickety glass skyscrapers, tall thin Dutch buildings, , concrete boxes that look pulled from Berlin, and small yellow cube houses thrown in to make sure the entire colour palette’s dealt with. It’s unusual for The Netherlands. After being flattened by WWII, it feels like architects were given free range on various plots of land to create something new in each. It’s also been named one of Lonely Planet’s Cities of 2016.
It’s just four hours door-to-door from London , I have a more relaxing way to get here from London . By an Overnight Stenaline Rail and Sail , you can't complain if you loathe an air travel.
|Stenaline brings you from Harwich to Hook-of-Hooland, port town 30 minutes to Rotterdam|
It’s a small city that’s easy enough to see and be left hungry in a weekend. I’ve been looking out for places that would make a brilliant travel to and from London and this is one. We stayed for 3 days and there was still more we could have done. Between walks, weird buildings, art, waterbus trip, there’s lots to do and it’s super relaxed. There’s a good blog post about why the Dutch are apparently baffled that tourist seem to love it, I'm writing mine here.
Despite being the second largest city, it’s also fairly small – or ‘manageable’, you might call it – and is neat for day trips. Rotterdam is also super close to Amsterdam and Utrecht, and even closer to The Hague. There’s a ‘cultural route’ that connects The Hague and Rotterdam (30km) or you can use the insanely good Dutch bike network to cycle to one of the nearby cities.
An idealist utopian architecture
Buildings are brilliant and you can go on tours of them. Alternatively, if not so much your thing they also tend to hold really good things inside them too. Like modern art or cake. There are a lot of structures and buildings that appear in endlessly curated lists around the web.
More pictures at Naeldaily Instagram.
The Erasmus bridge is very famous and important to cycle back and forth across, or at least peer at (and you can’t really miss it). Silly cyclist included for scale.
One of my favourite buildings are the row of yellow cubes that sit at 45 degrees, which sit as part of a bridge across a main road been converted into a cheap hostel. We did this. It’s no AirBnB homeliness but starting the day exiting through a forrest of yellow cubes each morning is fun, if you’re big on yellow cubes.
This horshe shaped, massive tunnel building is a complex of residential apartments, office and market hall on the street level . design by MRDV famous dutch architect.
Rent a dodgy bike
Not obligatory but very important. Rotterdam is small and relaxed, and you can pedal around it on an old heavy bike. The cycle lanes system – which the Dutch have nailed – looks a bit like being on a system of pseudo-roads and it’s all very fun. The way that everyone cycles is unsurprising but always wonderful to see in action (and no one really used their car horns either – I didn’t realise until we were back in London what an absence that was). Whizzing around Rotterdam and seeing all the buildings fly past is my favourite way to see things rather than schlepping about – I’d rather zip around and be pleasantly surprised as I go. It feels more like you’re a living part of the city, not just looking on.
Take water bus To kinderdjik
This is obligatory if you decide not to see the windmill near Amsterdam. Gazetted as UNESCO World Heritage site, this windmill is located on the south east Rotterdam, best by waterbus depart below Erasmus Bridge. Detail experience in the next blog.
Stroll along Nieuwe Werk Park and Museum Park
Rotterdam Centraal Station.
It takes 10 years to complete the construction of this aluminium-clad razor sharp building. The facade is so wide that it cannot fit nicely enough to any camera lens, you have to walk up to the plaza infront to get the entire glorious facade into frame.