With no trips abroad planned in January, we decided to some exploring in the Netherlands and visit our second biggest city. Recently named in the Top 10 of cities to travel to in 2016 by Lonely Planet, and famous for its architecture, the busy port, and its eye-catching landmark the Erasmus bridge, we spent our Saturday in Rotterdam. Some say it is a city you’ll either love or hate, so I guess I’m one of the few who is ‘middle of the road’ about it: I quite happily visit this city of contrast occasionally.
Rotterdam is known for its contemporary architecture; it was completely flattened by bombs during WWII, so you won’t find many quaint old street or medieval buildings here. In fact, there is only one medieval building left, the Laurens Church, which is in stark contrast with the surrounding modern buildings.
A stone’s throw away from the church, the ‘Markthal’ (which means Market Hall) opened not long ago and which is a small piece of paradise for food lovers. It reminded me of the Borough Market as they had such a great variety of food stalls there too, (unlike anywhere I’ve seen in The Netherlands), but that’s where the similarity ends. The market is located in brand new contemporary building with awesome painted ceilings, in which they’ve also build apartments.
I could never live there as I’d spend fortunes on food every day, plus it would ruin my waistline rather quickly. You’ll find any food you like here: typical Dutch sweets ranging from Delft Blue Chocolate to stroopwafel cakes, or macarons and chocolate covered strawberries…
… Donuts in very bright but artificial colors
But also meats, vegetables, condiments, spices, sushi, you name it.
Given my current health journey, I only let my eyes enjoy all these little guilty pleasures, and I got myself a delicious fresh juice instead.
After getting distracted by all this deliciousness, we walked past another one of Rotterdam’s most famous landmarks located next door: the cube houses by architect Piet Blom. I don’t think these oddly shaped houses are particularly pretty to look at, but they do belong to this city, so it was fun to see them. It’s so different from standard urban housing, I wonder how you live in a weirdly shaped home like this. The yellow structures are contrasting nicely with the blue sky and the surrounding buildings.
From there, we set out on foot towards the Erasmus Bridge and Hotel New York, the former headquarter of the Holland Amerika Line; a transatlantic cruise-line connection between Rotterdam and New York that played an important role for migrants in the 19th & 20th century. This old building again is very different from its tall contemporary brothers standing next to him.
Even the January sun decided to come out and play.
For lunch, we had to cross the river, but we didn’t want to walk back all the way over the bridge, so we pretended to be in Venice and took a watertaxi.
It wasn’t even a five-minute boat ride to Parkkade where we needed to be, but when we disembarked on the other side, we felt like we were in a completely different place; it was green, lush and quiet contrasting the trendy, urban area we saw in the morning. Even this fellow was enjoying the winter sun.
We walked over to restaurant Parkheuvel, a lovely two Michelin star restaurant overlooking the water, where we sat down for lunch, and where I may have cheated on my dry January resolution with a Cremant. And a Riesling. And a Graham’s Port.
The sommelier had recently been to New York, so he happily shared with us a few of his secret spots, and coincidentally, we had already booked a table at a place in NYC that he highly recommends. Let’s hope that blizzard Jonas is not going to ruin our trip.
When you are Rotterdam and you don’t mind spending a bit more time and a bit more money on lunch (or dinner of course), I can highly recommend Parkheuvel for a lovely food experience.
After lunch XXXL, we decided it was time to go back home after a lovely day getting reacquainted with Rotterdam. It was worth it, and I might be back sooner rather than later. If you come from abroad to visit NL, make sure you add an extra day to visit this city: it’s only an hour away from Amsterdam and worth the trip as it’s so different from our capital city, yet so typical ‘The Netherlands’ as well!