I spent two days in Rotterdam during my Vacances de Toussaint. Just like with Gent, I knew nothing about Rotterdam before arriving (last-minute travels FTW!). As it turns out, this city is extremely young with a ton of modern architecture!
Unfortunately, the city was bombed during World War II and nearly the entire city was destroyed. There is an incredibly moving statue beside the Maritime Museum, by Ossip Zadkine, named “The Destroyed City.” He said that when he arrived to Rotterdam after the war and saw the devastation that remained, he was inspired to make this statue. The monument resembles a distressed figure missing its core. I love that he chose to portray it this way.
If you can’t tell from the name, Rotterdam is also a huge port city! Some of my favorite parts of my visit were just spent sitting along the river, or looking at the Erasmus Bridge!
When I booked my hostel, I was mostly focused on the price. Apparently, I booked a hostel that’s included in Europe’s Famous Hostels! This hostel was very accommodating, and they have organized events each day. On Wednesday mornings, there are organized trips to Kinderdijk! There weren’t enough people signed up for a group to go, so I just went ahead by myself. Kinderdijk is a village just up the river from Erasmus Bridge and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
You can walk or bike around Kinderdijk for free, which a lot of local families seemed to do on a nice day. Alternatively, you can pay a few bucks and view a mini movie as well as go inside two of the windmills in the village! The movie is super cheesy, but it was worth it to me to understand what windmills are for before going inside of one. They’re actually quite important! 🙂 I’m not sure what I was expecting of this village, but I sure didn’t expect that many windmills! There is a walking (and biking) path along the water with countless windmills to the right and left! Even on a cloudy day, it was a beautiful view.
There is one windmill that has been preserved as a museum – you can see what it looked like for a family to live inside it. Further down the path, there is another windmill you can visit. At the second tourist windmill, they have a garden with ANIMALS! That’s right! Animals!! They had two goats – names Milly and Molly. 😀 I petted one, but it didn’t seem interested at all in my affection. *Sniff sniff*
Southwest of the Erasmus Bridge, following the river (can you tell I used this bridge as my point of reference during my stay?), is the beautiful Het Park. I spent a couple hours meandering around this park during the morning. There are several ponds scattered around, and lots of people riding bikes, picnicking, or walking through.
The Euromast tower is right at the edge of the park. The ride up the tower is definitely overpriced for the amount of time you’ll spend there, however the view was pretty incredible. It was a bit foggy when I went up, but even with the fog I was amazed! Before you go up the top of the tower there is a section for walking around in the middle. The near see-through stairs had me second guessing my comfort with heights! But the top of the tower is completely sealed. There is a bench to sit around and there is a recording that identifies the different parts of the city that you are viewing as it rotates and elevates. This would be an AMAZING place to watch the sunset.
At night, my hostel offered a short walking tour. Since I knew that this walking tour would go around Centrum, I spent a majority of my day walking around the park and going to Kinderdijk. After seeing Centrum around sunset, I regret not setting aside more time for it! There are several really amazing things to see in the center of city. Markthal is pretty hard to miss. It’s like a huge upside down horseshoe! This indoor market is unique to say the least. It’s especially beautiful at night with the inside lit up so you can appreciate the painted curved roof/walls.
The one thing I’d love to see during the daytime, that I only saw at night, is the cube houses. Although it’s still quite magnificent lit up at night, I’d like to get the full effect in the daytime as well. These little cubes are fascinating to me! You can walk underneath and see in the windows that people are really living there. One of the cubes is actually a hostel! Another cube is a museum so you can go inside. So bizarre!
I met several really cool people at the hostel during this visit. After the mini-walking tour some of us went to grab dinner and drinks together. All in all, I’m super glad I chose to visit Rotterdam! I definitely plan to visit again.