Day 166: To RotterdamJuly 30, 2017 in the Netherlands
Finally time to check out of our nice houseboat, and head south-west away from Amsterdam. Our host gave us a lift to the station (fantastic, since I wasn't looking forward to a 30 minute walk lugging our bags), and we caught our train direct to Rotterdam with no issues.
Rotterdam is in many ways the polar opposite of Amsterdam. It's the busiest port city in Europe, and where Amsterdam is touristy and still very rich and monocultural, Rotterdam is none of those things. Not touristy, not that rich, and very very multicultural. Lots of people from all over the world here living side-by-side. Rotterdam doesn't have the greatest reputation, and in the past I think it was well deserved, but the city seems to have changed a lot these days.
Arrived at the central station around 11am, and since we couldn't check in to our hotel until mid-afternoon, we dropped our bags in a luggage locker and headed for our main spot for the day. This was of course a World Heritage site, the Van Nelle factory on the western edge of the city. Caught a bus out there with no dramas, and arrived in plenty of time for the 12pm tour I had a ticket for. Since we had Schnitzel with us, we'd agreed that I would go in on the tour, and that Shandos would wait outside with him.
The factory is a large modern building, built in the late 1920s with that classic optimistic style of the period. White walls, steel fringes and lots of glass meant that the workers had a nice environment, rather than the gloomy brown-brick factories of the 19th century. It was very impressive, and the tour was quite good. Lots of photos and filming of course! Although the factory was originally set up to process coffee, tea and tobacco, these days it's home to many design companies, marketing companies, architecture firms and the like. Lucky them.
Back on the bus to the main central station where it was now 2pm and fast approaching check-in time. Had a bit of drama since we'd both thrown out our train tickets, and couldn't get back into the station to retrieve our bags. Managed to talk a security man into letting us in - there is a large security presence here apparently because of drug dealers and stuff. Hopped on the underground a few stops to our hotel and checked in.
Nice spot on the waterfront, seven floors up and with a view over the main river and some nearby canals. Very unusual to be staying in a hotel, first time since Paris!
Headed out for a walk since I was absolutely starving by now, only having had two pieces of toast since 8am! Walked into the Cool District nearby (yes, it's called the Cool District) where there's a lot of outdoor restaurants and nice venues to check out. Eventually settled on a burger place where the food was excellent - apparently among the best burgers in the Netherlands!
Sufficiently refuelled, we wandered a few more blocks around the area, before grabbing some small snacks for dinner and breakfast and then headed back to the hotel where we spent the rest of the day/evening.Read more