Now that Rotterdam might just be Europe’s new capital of cool, it’s about time to share part two of our visit there in the last couple of weeks.
If Friday night meant indulging into delicious French dishes in hip and edgy Katendrecht followed by drinks on lively Witte de Withstraat, Saturday was dedicated to urban exploration, brunch, specialty coffee, culture – all in the company of our friends, Rotterdammers Jennifer and Jork.
Morning found us in our comfy room at citizenM hotel, overlooking a foggy Oude Haven. A quick breakfast and we were ready for check-out.
We wandered around the area, which brought us face to face with perhaps Rotterdam’s most famous building lately – the Markthal. We took a walk inside as well – how could we not? – then continued our walk.
11 AM on a Saturday morning and the city was well awake. Walking downtown, we were surprised by the big city feel Rotterdam was exuding, at the same time keeping intact its industrial heritage. I love old factory buildings and Rotterdam seem to have plenty of them in the most unexpected locations.
As we drifted away from the centre and into the up-and-coming neighbourhoods of Noord, we had to wonder ourselves whether we were still in the Netherlands or we have somehow teleported to Berlin. Concrete, colours, writings on the walls – there was something surprising at each step.
Under the arch of a bridge no longer in use for train traffic, in a totally unpretentious setup reminding of a warehouse more than of a coffee place, Man Met Bril is the place where we met our friends again. There, we had countless cups of coffee and we indulged into mouth-watering flat bread pizzas – the house specialty. The vibe was so good, even the sun came up eventually.
On the streets again, this time with the comforting sun warming up our faces, we walked back south. I must say I fell in love with Raampoortstraat, where new developments – trendy restaurants, coffee places, clubs, vinyl shops, design outlets – found place in what looks like a former rundown area. If I lived in Rotterdam, this is where I’d come to soak up the sun, a cup of coffee in one hand and a magazine in the other. So much space, so many possibilities, no crowds.
We were half way to our destination – Kunsthal – when we stopped to take some photos on a bridge somewhere behind Rotterdam Central train station. I still don’t have a name for this place full of colour, creativity, and surprises.
After our explorations to Rotterdam Noord, being back to familiar areas – such as that near Rotterdam Centraal – made our experience complete and we grew even fonder of the city. As usual, the architecture along Mauritsweg made us turn our heads several times.
And there we were finally at Museumpark! Again, so much space, so many possibilities, no crowds. It looked nothing like Amsterdam’s Museumplein. The area seems to be undergoing some transformation. In the meantime, it’s a playground for the people of Rotterdam, young and old.
We returned to Amsterdam with a familiar feeling – that of being back to a postcard which, no matter how beautiful and perfect, has somehow reached its final version. Less space, fewer possibilities, more crowds.