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December, 2015

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My cousin lives in Rotterdam and I have often visited her but it had been some time since I was last there. In the past I had thought of Rotterdam as a poor relative to Amsterdam, not so quaint, not so interesting, not so many things to do, but when I flew there to spend New Years Eve with my cousin and her partner I was surprised by what a lovely city it now is!

Rotterdam was badly damaged during the war and when they rebuilt it they went for modern buildings. A friend I took there some years ago described it as “one huge council estate” and I am afraid the first buildings they built did look like big council blocks! However they now seem to have gone for classy modern buildings and they have completely transformed the skyline. It has a much more cosmopolitan feel to it now and I spent a lovely 5 days wandering around the city and seeing how much it had changed.

One of the most impressive new buildings is the “Markthal”. This lovely marketplace is in the heart of Rotterdam and houses numerous food, drink and flower stands. There are vendors selling everything from cheeses to turkish pizzas and you can get any kind of take-away food you might fancy, Italian, Indian, Indonesian, Greek, to name just a few. The roof of the Markthal has beautiful murals drawn on it and on each side are various eat-in restaurants. We had a meal in the newly opened Jamie Oliver’s Restaurant and we had a great meal whilst looking down at the bustling marketplace below us.

There are many museums in Rotterdam. We visited The Kunsthal, which had about 5 different exhibitions going on. My cousin told me that the exhibitions change so frequently that they are never sure what they are going to find when they visit. You could easily spend a whole day there. We also visited an exhibition about Poisons (much more interesting than it sounds) and this was in the Las Palmas Building at Wilhelmina Pier. This is in the De Kaap area which used to be Rotterdam’s red light district but is now a very trendy place to eat and visit.

The public transport system is great and you can get trams, a bus or the underground to almost anywhere. We got the tram to The Hague one day which is a fascinating place with lots of history and we also spent a day at the beach, Scheveningen, on New Years Day to see the crazy people who went there to swim in the sea! We got 2 trams there and although it was a little cold and breezy it was fun walking along the board walk and seeing an array of modern sculptures that are there.

After my cousins great hospitality I treated her and her partner to a meal at the top of the Euromast on my last night.. This lovely restaurant offered a large menu and we opted for the 4 course “surprise” menu which was delicious and luckily we were not served up any surprise courses that we didn’t like. The views from here are great. During the day you can see the traffic on the river and at night the lights stretch for miles. Oh word of warning though, they do not take cash in the restaurant for some explicable reason. I had hoped to use up all my Euros but had to pay with a credit card which was rather strange. The other thing I found strange was that even though we were eating in the restaurant (which is not especially cheap) we still had to pay 9 euros each to travel up to the restaurant floor! (I am sure that if you are eating in The Shard in London you wouldn’t have to pay a viewing fee as well!)

So, if you are in Holland and you fancy a change from windmills, tulips and Amsterdam then please consider Rotterdam. It has such a lot going for it now and is well worth a visit. (I took a British Airways flight from London City Airport into Rotterdam, It took less than an hour, neither of the airports were busy and it was a very civilised way to travel.


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