Well, helllllo 2017 and hello long overdue post from the tail end of 2016. I’ve been meaning to write up my visit to the wonderful landscape architecture of Rotterdam (back in November) for over two months. Heavier than expected new uni course commitments however took up a heap of time and energy, and then Christmas came knocking at the door. This trip was in fact part of my masters course in landscape architecture, as the Dutch really do stand out from the crowd with their progressive approach to urban planning.
3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
LUCHTSINGEL | translates to ‘air canal’ or as I call it ‘the yellow bridge’, by studio ZUS. This is an awesome crowd-funded venture that connects previously hard to access areas with a new 400m long pedestrian bridge.
Also check out: go inside Schieblock (the building at the centre), which has all been converted, and includes a stunning little roof top urban farm and café called On The Roof.
ORGANIC FARM & RESTAURANT | if you’re happy to venture a little further afield, jump on the metro for about 20 minutes to Marconiplein and enjoy an incredible meal (and service) at Uit Je Eigen Stad. Apparently every weekend there’s a farmers market. We also stumbled across a party they were throwing on Saturday night, with DJs and drinks tokens.
ARCHITECTURE | I’ve grouped this together as there’s so much architecture of Rotterdam to check out, and it’s a primary reason to visit this modern city. Don’t miss:
- Cube houses by Piet Blom, which are in fact a StayOkay Hostel where we stayed;
- Station Centraal, a redevelopment of the existing station built in 1957;
- Het Nieuwe Instituut, a contemporary arts institute (didn’t actually go in as there wasn’t time);
- Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, another art museum with the snazziest coat rack ever witnessed;
- Erasmusbrug Bridge, a beautiful suspension bridge known fondly as ‘The Swan’.
From a landscape architecture of Rotterdam perspective:
- Schouwburgplein or ‘Theater Square’ by renowned Dutch landscape architect firm West8, is a raised city stage with custom furniture and operable crane-like lights;
- Lovely Het Park in the Nieuwe Werk area;
- The park and garden area around the Kunstal, another museum.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
WITTE DE WITHSTRAAT | is a great street that buzzes throughout the day and night. Officially located in the ‘Cool District’ or so the map says!
Also check out: Nieuw Rotterdams Café is an incredibly popular art deco gem that you must visit; Termarsch & Co for great burgers and cozy venue (but slightly obnoxious bar man) and Fritez for the most incredible truffle mayo with your frites.
MARKTHAL | or Market Hall, is a great example of the contemporary architecture of Rotterdam. It is a combined residential and office building with a giant market hall underneath. You’ll like-or-loath the lurid digital imagery of huge flying cows, prawns, raspberries and flowers. It’s certainly a talking point though and a great place to sample local produce or stop for a hot chocolate when it’s freezing outside.
DUDOK | is another art deco beauty and perfect place to stop for a coffee. It was also recommended as an option for dinner, but we didn’t actually eat here. While away an hour enjoying the soaring ceilings and light-filled interior.
3 THINGS TO STEER CLEAR:
COLD WEATHER | in early November it was blimmin’ freezing! Every day required leggings under jeans, a double pair of socks, and as many additional garments as I could rustle up. I’d definitely advise to hold out for a spring or summer visit if possible.
STADHUIS PLEIN | is the street directly in front of the grand Town Hall. It’s a shame because it seems to be ‘that street’ that every city has, full of grim bars and neon signs. Typically, it’s where we ended up for dinner on the first night. I can confidently say, avoid The Apres Ski Hut at all costs.
WALKING | because the only way to get around is on a bike. We were a large group who unfortunately hadn’t factored in the logistics of hiring two wheels. How to spot the tourists…..
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
SOUTH OF THE RIVER | our itinerary only included one full (very cold) day in Rotterdam, which just wasn’t enough time to cram in all the sights. We didn’t even cross the river! I was keen to check out another food market at Fenix Food Factory, national heritage building Hotel New York and more unique architecture of Rotterdam, like the Unilever Nederland BV building.
AND KNOW THIS: in 2009, stalwart travel guide Lonely Planet named Rotterdam’s bar De Witte Aap (on aforementioned Witte de Withstraat) the best bar in the world. We stopped by for a drink – and it’s definitely a fun place – but I think world #1 would have been a big shout at any time in its history!