ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS


Rotterdam is a city in the Netherlands located geographically within the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt river delta at the North Sea. Its history goes back to 1270 when a dam was constructed in the Rotte river and people settled around it for safety. Today it is home to Europe's largest port, tenth in the world, and is the 2nd most populated city in the Netherlands. The city is known for the Erasmus University, riverside setting, lively cultural life and its maritime heritage.

The  near complete destruction of the city centre during World War II (known as the Rotterdam Blitz) has resulted in a varied architectural landscape including sky-scrapers, which are an uncommon sight in other Dutch cities.
In the 1980s, the city councils began developing an active architectural policy. Daring and new styles of apartments, office buildings and recreation facilities resulted in a more 'livable' city centre with a new skyline. Rotterdam was voted 2015 European City of the Year by the Academy of Urbanism and is home to some world-famous architecture from renowned architects like Rem Koolhaas, Piet Blom, Ben van Berkel and others.

The extensive distribution system including rail, roads and waterways have earned Rotterdam the nickname "Gateway to Europe", and conversely; the "Gateway to the World" in Europe.

We didn't take a tour while in the city, rather we spent the afternoon with Izak's cousin Kees and his wife Maria.
 

Entering Rotterdam in the early morning.
 

You can start to see inklings of the 'modern' architecture to be found
in the city centre as we drew closer to port.

 

Even the bridges have a certain "Je ne ce quoi" about them.
This one incidentally is the 'Erasmus Bridge'
 

The SS Rotterdam

Also known as "The Grande Dame", the SS Rotterdam is a former ocean liner and cruise ship. She is the last great Dutch "ship of state" and has been a floating hotel since 2010.
   
The dock was rather unusual in that it wasn't a cold grey building
like what we are use to in harbours. Instead we docked at what
looked like a park area.

 

The park, if you will, came with two faux smoke stacks.

   

Maria, Dina, Izak and Kees catching up on the dock by the park.



We decided to find a more comfortable place to talk and headed
to the cafe in the dockside hotel, the 'Hotel New York'. The hotel
occupies the building that was once the offices of the Holland
America cruise lines and is considered to be the 3rd best
hotel in Rotterdam by TripAdvisor.

    

Kees and Maria in the cafe.

  
 
Afterward we hopped on board the free shuttle bus, arranged courtesy of the Rotterdam Port Authority to take passengers downtown. Even though Kees and
Maria weren't passengers, the driver was fine with them using it too.
We went to the major shopping area which includes a farmers'
market, restaurants and shops to wander around and have
some lunch.



The market has two levels - the street level and an
open air lower level


And what street market would be complete without a
sideshow?


Examples of some of the unusual architecture.
The building on the right is the 'Market Mall'. It is a residential
and office building with a market and various restaurants
on the main level, where we had lunch. It has been nicknamed
Koopboog in Dutch, due to its horseshoe shape.


Being a Saturday, the market is a pretty busy place.


And now for something completely different!
This rather unusual structure is a condominium, otherwise known
as 'cube' or 'cubic'  houses. Heaven help the occupant with vertigo,
or who had one too many.


The higher structures over the stores on the far side of the market
are more apartments.


Buildings similar to the older one here, seen amongst the newer
architecture, are generally found in port areas and are used for
storage and shipping offices. I don't know if that is what this one
was, but it certainly looks the part.


This building reminds me of the front of a cruise ship.


The cruise port terminal. . .


. . . and our farewell committee.


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