It is funny that I should be doing a post on adventures in Rotterdam this week. The reason being that I came up with The Urban Wanderer when we were on our last trip. And our last trip was one year ago. And The Urban Wanderer blog is one year old on the 13th July. Yay!
But this is not what this post is about. This is about our adventures in Rotterdam. Well, to be honest, it is probably the first of my posts about our adventures in Rotterdam.
Adventures in Rotterdam
We visited Rotterdam last year for a conference that Jit was speaking at. When we got the chance to go again this year, we were delighted to accept – and to make the most of it with adding Amsterdam to the itinerary too. For some reason everyone we have spoken to about it has slated Rotterdam. “It’s ugly” they say, “there’s nothing there” others stated or “why don’t you just go to Amsterdam?”. We have even had people looking lowly at us and saying, “it’s for business, right?” and when we have expressed our love for the city, they just shake their heads and share experiences of seeing nothing there when they have ‘been’
I say ‘been’ as some of them have just passed in and out of the city in the time it takes for a football match to be played. Literally. So to say somewhere has nothing to see when you haven’t actually spent any time there, to me, is a mistaken concept.
Anyway, as you might be able to tell, I could argue for Rotterdam until I am blue in the face. I have walked miles in the city and still have more to discover. It is a magical place that had been built up from the ruins of war, the remnants of past industry and is battling climate change. It is progressive, modern and contemporary with consideration for the history too. I think that alone is enough to make you intrigued to learn more. But that could just be me… and Jit of course. So through my series of posts and videos about our adventures in Rotterdam, let me introduce to you what a wonderful city it really is. I hope that it inspires you to see it in a new light and perhaps take a trip to explore yourself.
Train to Rotterdam
Our last trip to Rotterdam saw the final flights direct from Manchester to Rotterdam. In fact we had to have a replacement plane after the company folded the day we were flying back. So our adventures in Rotterdam began by taking a train from Amsterdam. An experience that we both enjoyed as you get to see more of the countryside while seeing how it is to live and travel around the area.
As soon as we arrived at Rotterdam Centraal, we enjoyed the welcoming feeling of familiarity. We instantly began sharing our memories from our last trip and noticing the changes since then.
Reducing weight and heading out
As it was much too early for checking in we dropped our bags at the hotel and headed out with our reduced weight. (To check out my review-ish of the CitizenM hotel in Rotterdam, check out my video here) With our now lighter packs we decided to go straight to the Euromast Tower and of course, the Euromast park too.
I had accidentally stumbled upon the Euromast park on our last visit while I was heading for the starting point of my audio walking tour. I spotted the greenery and imposing tower and had to check it out. Within moments it had become a firm favourite and a regular stopping point for us. With the sun shining hard on us, we were glad for the shade when we arrived.
The Euromast Tower was built in 1960 to mark the occasion of the International garden and flower festival. It lies on the edge of the Maas and is an impressive 186 metres high. This made it the tallest building in Rotterdam (in the 1970s, anyway) So as you can imagine, it is the perfect place to get a view over the entire city. Who says there is nothing to see in Rotterdam, hey?
As you can imagine, having been built in the concrete loving 60’s, it is rather brutal in appearance. But in my opinion, I think it suits it as it is a land version of the ship’s mast. And besides, for me it brings back fond memories of Liverpool and the Radio City Tower, which looks similar.
For €9.75 each (paid on card only) we were more than delighted with the experience and the views. From the ground, you never really quite comprehend the island design of the city. But from up above, you really get a feel for how it has grown out and developed. It also really hammered home how far I had walked on our last visit and how much I did this time around too (having followed my curiosity to many of the things I spotted from overhead)
It isn’t only the stunning views from the platform that gets your heart all of a flutter, once you head up a little further, you get to enjoy the Euroscoop. This takes you up higher while gently turning, enabling you to enjoy the full 360 view with commentary. We enjoyed this so much that the man running it invited us to go on again. It was like our own private experience and one that you must do when you visit. (I’ll be sorting out some videos from our trip soon and this is definitely a feature!)
Post tower wander
After taking in the view from overhead we were itching to get into the long and crossing streets, so we set off for some ground level adventures in Rotterdam. Not to let the side down, I was snapping away along the journey and capturing the sights as best I could. There is something about a nice even shot taken from the middle of a busy road that just begs for me to take a shot!
It always amazes me how you can remember streets and directions after such a short time. It really does prove my theory that when you explore by foot and follow your curiosity (even if it means getting lost!) you will really get to know a place well. And this second trip to Rotterdam proved this well as we made our way down to Witte de Withstraat where you have an abundance of bars and restaurants to choose from for that well deserved break.
We did decide to have a Heineken at King Kong, just so that we could enjoy the view and get some shade mind you. By the time we were finishing our second beers (did I say we only had one?) the 3 am wake up was starting to take its toll. We decided at that point to head to the hotel, get booked in and freshen up for an evening of further exploring.
A good nap later and we were ready to rock. It seemed that the early morning and travel had caught up with us. Much improved from the snooze we were able to get ourselves together and make our way to our favourite Rotterdam restaurant, Burgertrut, to get something to eat.
To our astonishment, we arrived to a closed and clearly long gone venue. Through our disbelief, we Googled our way to discovering that they had moved which quickly changed our mood to on of relief. There were burgers that we hadn’t tried yet! The new location meant that we would be able to explore a bit more on the way.
The Yellow Bridge
Before our trip I had been submerging myself in videos of Rotterdam from a plethora of travel vloggers and one of the things that came up only once in them all was the yellow bridge (I forget the name right now, but will edit when it comes back in view). To stumble upon it on our way to the restaurant was one of the best things that could have happened.
The bridge was built to connect the two sides of the city which had been previously difficult to cross over. Paid for through crowdfunding, each board has the name of the person who donated. It makes it a prime example of ‘of the people, for the people’ and I love that connection to the bridge. It was also the walkway into an exciting and creative part of the city that we had never ventured before.
The vibrant street art, tasty smelling food and live jazz music just added to the excitement. As we wandered through the relaxed crowds on the steps (bearing in mind that it was a Wednesday evening) we really felt the cool and creative vibe of the place. Not like the Northern Quarter in Manchester, but more relaxed and calm. The kind of space you imagine enjoying after work when the weather is warm and the drinks are cold.
We lingered long enough to enjoy the vibe but were pulled by yet more street art and the grumbling in our tummies.
As we made our way to the unlikely alley way ahead of us we wondered what the place was before. Something far from the colourful buzz that it is now, I reckon. As we emerged out the other side we found that we were right by the restaurant. The location not quite as interesting as the other side, but somewhere different all the same.
Within moments we had chosen our seat and ordered out burgers, with a refreshing 0% Bavaria on the side. One thing I love about The Netherlands is the availability of alcohol free beer wherever you go. As we watched the commuters zip by on their bikes or inside the trams we relaxed right back into the city. It felt like we were home and enjoying a quick meal out after work, comfortable and enjoyable all at the same time.
And the burger. Well, there is nothing quite like a Burgertrut burger. We have been recreating some of the meals we had there from our last trip, many of which are firm favourites like our vegan Kapsalon (think doner kebab in a dish with chips rather than pitta)
As delicious as our meal and the evening were, we could feel the tiredness creeping up on us again. Not wanting to miss the lowering sun, we decided on one last gentle stroll to see the sun go down behind the tall buildings followed by a quick trip to the supermarket for some more zero beers and back to the room.
Boy am I glad that we made it for that little bit longer. The sun setting behind the building became the perfect ending our first day back in the city we love so much. It was the end of the day and the start of our adventures in Rotterdam.
See what I mean about how much you can do in a short space of time in a flat city? It is part of what makes adventures in Rotterdam so exciting. The fact that you can end up miles away, exploring somewhere you never dreamed of getting to yet able to get back home easily.
I hope you enjoyed the first part of our adventures in Rotterdam and I’m sure to be back with more very soon. (I’m all over my memories of The Netherlands right now, even down to reading books about it!)
Here’s to more adventures in Rotterdam and to changing minds on the city!