I love the feeling of being in love. I guess most people reckon with this. That’s why I want to talk about it while it’s still hot and burning.
I spent five years in Amsterdam hearing about how ugly Rotterdam was. I had been there once, just briefly, and I kept on postponing my visit to the city for all sorts of irrelevant reasons. Until I got an invitation to go there, and cover a theater play for my blog.
On the train I texted this Rotterdammer friend of mine, in the wildest hope that, despite being Dutch, he didn’t have a Dutch agenda. Very remarkably he didn’t. One hour after I arrived we were meeting at Cafe Hopper (the one at Zwaanshals 474).
In my twenty minute walk from central station to Hopper, I had seen enough street-art and inspiring architecture (and the yellow bridge!), to be in that state of infatuation which makes the floor under you feet feel smoother. And it started pouring down outside, which added up to the romanticism (just realized I said I got happy with bad weather conditions – this is seems a particularly serious degree of dutchification to me).
A couple of hours later I was at Islemunda, a cool (multi)cultural center located in Ijsselmonde. Around half an hour with the tram, if you come from the city center. A real Rotterdam borough, thus. I watched “No is no” from Kuringa (Berlin), which was basically a public discussion about gender constructions and sexual consent, using theater as a tool. A powerful experience which deserves a blog post of its own.
After the theater, time for more city-diving. Got out at the tram stop Leuvehaven and around there it was all about being amazed. First of all the haven itself, where the haven museum and the maritime museum are located. That paraphernalia of ship masts and flags, and cranes, and towers, and high buildings, and contemporary architecture. Simply put, it’s genius.
From there I headed to Witte the Withstraat which is, I learned soon after, one of those unmissable areas in the city. Cafes, restaurants, bars, shops, theaters, street-art. All buzzing and colorful and creative and super gezellig. I had an early dinner at the Nieuw Rotterdams Cafe. There was live jazz when I came in so I didn’t look any further.
The evening was topped up with a proper ice-cream at the Ijs-Sallon ( the first time I saw such a stylish place for ice-cream), and a walk around some extremely iconic pieces of architecture: the markthall, the cubic houses, the Laurens church, the city hall, amongst others. Honestly it is difficult to assimilate what you are seeing when your eyes meet the cubic houses. I literally felt I was inside a science-fiction film, specially with the Markthall next to it, like a huge spaceship, getting brighter and brighter, from the sun setting in.
This city is often going to have me around. If you’re into cities, there’s no way you can miss it. This article is dedicated to all the ones who claim Rotterdam is ugly. With all due respect, you guys don’t have a clue what you are talking about.