Have you ever had an awkward day between your travels? You’re in a city for one night just because it kind of worked out that way, not because you really wanted to be there? That was Rotterdam for Johnny and me. We arrived early on a rainy morning via BlaBlacar, this time driving with a cool Flemish businessman.
We spent most of the day just walking. We got lost walking to the train station, and then we got lost walking to some museums. We walked some more. Hey, in Rotterdam you should take the public transportation. Its not that expensive, but we didn’t realize that until later on our way to the CouchSurfing location (stay tuned for another blog post on this experience).
I cannot express to you enough that in Rotterdam we had NO plan. At all. So we get dropped off at this cool marina, and we walk by all these beautiful buildings on our way to the train station where we thought we could check our bags into a locker. We could not. Luckily, we found a cafe. Hopper cafe was cute and inviting. It had the wooden interiors with an industrial feel that I was constantly drawn to. I didn’t feel quite relaxed here though, not sure why. I think I was just on edge from not having a plan for the day. We had a great time eventually, but it took some time figure out the city.
So since I don’t want you to feel that way, I planned a day for you (or for me when I go back):
Let’s start off our morning with some nice coffee and some culture. Head to De Markthal, it’s an indoor market and really cool apartment building in a horseshoe shape. The food stands will give you a cool look into the way locals eat. Then check out the ceiling of the building–there is some neat-o art on that horseshoe!
Now that you have some coffee and breakfast in you, lets head to the streets. Look at every building around you. Rotterdam is more modern than Amsterdam. The buildings are so interesting; make sure you are not so focused on the destination that you miss all the cool buildings. And yes, Amsterdam has a ton of modern art, but Rotterdam has some incredible options too. The Witte de Withstraat is the art district. There you will find the Witte de With, TENT, and the Institute of Unstable Media. This whole area has some incredible art. Spend hours here, read all the info you can about the art you see. It’s incredible how an hour of really in depth art can make you see the world better. If you’re not into modern art, there is also a chess piece museum. Seriously, is there a museum for everything? I hope so.
Still in a shopping mood? Check out Groos. This place only sells things made in or around Rotterdam. This includes backpacks, ceramics, and even tables. Like you should do with everything, check their Facebook page for events during your visit.
Now it’s midday. Do you need some lunch? Head to Fritez. They have a food truck running around and also store front. Johnny and I just ran into this restaurant probably to get out of the rain but I still can’t stop thinking about those truffle fries. I mean truffle mayo. I mean the weird soda we got there. I mean ALL OF IT. This whole place was incredibly delicious. They have a great menu, and I recommend you head there.
Maybe you’ve had your fill of the city, s0 that means it’s time to head to Kinderdijk. It’s the Netherlands you’ve always dreamed of, windmills all lined up next to each other. You can get there by Waterbus or you can bike there. Make sure your camera batteries are charged because if your friends don’t see your cute af selfies with these windmills they will actually NOT believe you didn’t just steal a default MacBook wallpaper.
Wow, what a day of culture and art and… walking. Time for a drink? I think so. Grab dinner at Hamburg if you need a classic dish. You’ll find the best hamburgers around there. Or you can go to 1NUL8–decorated with vintage furniture and boasting 15 different kinds of wines, this is a great place to unwind and still know you’re eating a meal made with fresh ingredients. Another great bar with an impressive liquor list is Cafe Labru.
Now it’s time for bed. Yeah, couch surfing and Airbnb are cool alternatives to hostels, but Rotterdam has some new options for you. There is the Student Hotel, it’s part student housing and part budget hotel which makes it a very cool place to stay and make friends. There is also Wake Up In It. If you’re lucky enough to be in Rotterdam while there is an art or music event in town you can actually stay with those artists. It’s a rare experience.
Everything in Rotterdam is really a rare experience. The city was bombed in World War II and has been growing and rebuilding ever since. This means that even today its different than it was a week ago. Hey, more of a reason to go back right?