Every now and then, I need to take a break from Amsterdam and that’s when I get on a train direction Rotterdam. The journey lasts only 40 minutes and yet, when I get off at Rotterdam Centraal I feel like I’ve travelled outside the Netherlands.
In Rotterdam, one has space. To walk, to sit, to think, to enjoy. The city is yours. And then, there is the charm of the harbour with its activities and aesthetics, the mind-blowing architecture, the never-ending list of cool places to enjoy food and drinks, the people who do not care to follow trends and try to be themselves instead.
This past weekend, I went to Rotterdam again. I revisited my favourite places in the city and discovered new ones, too. For food, we mostly hung out at Harvest Coffee Brewers, not only because it was just a few steps away from our hotel, but because we felt so welcome since the first moment we stepped in. The first day we went for their amazing savoury dishes, next we returned for the French toast. Another favourite place for food and drinks – and decoration – in Rotterdam is Posse, in industrial-cool Katendrecht area, just next to the famous Fenix Food Factory (which I skipped on this occasion.) For a glass of wine and a chat with a Rotterdammer friend, I went to Aloha, a restaurant developed on the premises of a former public pool, with nice views towards the water and the bridges. My friend told me their food is good, too. One more place I went to on this occasion is Cafe Dudok, in the old centre, which combines the concept of the grand cafe with that of the brasserie. There are many other places I would have loved to try but I will save them for the next time. With Rotterdam, there is always a next time.
By far my favourite thing to do when visiting a city is sightseeing, and by this, I don’t mean touristic attractions, I mean going into the neighbourhoods. I must have been to Rotterdam at least ten times before, and yet, I am still discovering places I missed on previous occasions. To move around the city is easy. You can use the metro or the tram (which, in Rotterdam, I love doing because it is never crowded) or you can just walk. After seeing a bit of the old centre on the first day, the following one I decided to revisit two all-time favourites: the Kop van Zuid and Katendrecht. Their industrial – and cultural – heritage, proximity to the water and brave architecture leaves me in awe each time.
For this, I walked along the Maas river, itself an imposing presence, crossed the state-of-the-art Erasmus bridge, and then, instead of going right, like I always do (towards the Photography Museum, the New York Hotel, and the Katendrecht), this time I turned left. Soon, I found myself in the area known as Kop van Zuid – Entrepot. Highly residential, this is the place to go if you, like me, love to stare at interesting apartment buildings and imagine yourself living there. By far the most striking architecture in the area is that of the complex of buildings known as De Compagnie, striking not by hight and glossiness, as is the case with skyscrapers, but by the very opposite: the use of human-scale buildings and historical construction materials, such as red brick. The purpose was to recreate the sight of the old copper-roofed factories reminiscent of the old harbour, to remind everyone of what the area used to look like, and bring some of the old charm back.
Just when I thought I saw everything and was ready to go to the other, more familiar end of the peninsula, I got a glimpse of some nice warehouses turned into residencies, the old cranes still there, along with expensive yachts bobbing on the water in front, and even some palm trees to create a somewhat exotic effect. I walked right there. I was at the Binnenhaven. The whole area reminded me of Amsterdam’s Entrepothaven, with similar-looking warehouses, also turned into apartments, meant to store the goods brought to the city from overseas before passing through the douane. And I got the same feeling I have when in the correspondent part of Amsterdam: beautiful architecture, history encapsulated in every brick, and yet a sense of loneliness from being so far from the lively streets of the city. Beautiful to live but a bit too uneventful for my taste. I loved it anyway.
After leaving the Kop van Zuid – Entrepot, I headed toward the more familiar – and vibrant – part of the peninsula, where the New York Hotel and the Photography Museum are. But suddenly, this familiar part did not seem so amazing once I discovered the Entrepot.
I was really happy with my discoveries on this occasion in Rotterdam and I am looking forward to the next trip.
And now, the photos.