In this edition of ‘Hello from…’ my pen friend Annika will share what her favorite things are about living in Rotterdam. Enjoy!
1| What’s your favorite thing about living in Rotterdam?
Rotterdam is a city that was severely bombed during WW2, little of its center remained. They started building a whole new city from the ruins. Nowadays it is an eclectic mix, in architecture as well as in people. It has a few landmarks that are worth the visit all on their own. If they don’t have a nickname given by the Rotterdam people, then they’re just not important enough. The motto in Rotterdam is “don’t talk about it, just do it”, and sometimes the impossible is made possible. Upon a first visit to Rotterdam, you might not instantly notice its charm, but when you have the joy of getting a tour with someone who actually knows the place, you’ll be surprised!
2| Favorite places to go?
- Rotterdam is a food Walhalla. The most recent addition to its architecture is the “Markthal”, a giant covered market that rivals the ones in Copenhaguen and Barcelona. Food, food, and more food, seven days a week ☺ There are a hundred fresh produce units and on the ground floor there are some lovely restaurants. A large piece of art is created on the ceiling. If you go there on a Saturday, prepare your tonsils, because the open air market, the largest in Europe, is located next to the Markthal. Don’t forget to sample some of the Netherlands’ finest cheeses!
- My favorite coffee places are “Picknick”, “Urban Espresso bar”, “Booon”, “Vlaamsch Broodhuys”, “Memory lane” and “De Bakkerswinkel”. They know coffee in Rotterdam, from espresso to the finest latte macchiato. I like to go to one of these places and read a newspaper or write a letter. But of course the best thing about going there with friends is enjoying a coffee with a piece of cake!
If you have a sweet tooth and are fond of cookies and pie, then you should definitely visit “Koekela” for its famous apple-pie or lemon merengue pie. They have recently expanded, so now you can also have a seat and enjoy your slice of heaven with a cup of coffee. I live very close to Koekela, and I don’t always manage to avoid it ☺
- For lunch there are so many options. My favorites include “Giuliano” for Italian sandwiches, “Hopper” for a cozy lunch and “Buiten” for its soups and the nice shop they have, “Nostra” for its quality lunches with fish and good wines, and all the coffee places mentioned above. Try the sausage roll at either “Picknick” or “Vlaamsch broodhuys” , it’s to die for! Lunch with a view can be had at “Hotel New York” or at the “Fenix food factory” or on the 7th floor of hotel Nhow.
- For dinner there are even more options. If you fancy yourself some garlic and a day in your pj’s afterwards ‘cause you can’t see anyone for at least a day after you’ve been, go to “Look” and have the 30 cloves chicken :p They also serve garlic ice-cream which tastes way better than it sounds. A hip and happening venue is “Dertien”, where they only cook with fresh, local products. The best day meals can be had at “Sijf” which is a pub that serves food. They have specials on Monday ‘til Thursday, their spare-ribs are really good. If you like Italian food, there’s “Gusto”, “Lux” and “ a Proposito”. If you want to eat fancy food with Michelin Stars, go to “Parkheuvel” or “Amarone” and get blown away.
- Nice places for a drink can be found all around Witte de With straat. You can find the world’s best cafe there according to the Lonely Planet: “De witte Aap”, but actually “Rheijngoud” is a much nicer place. Sssshhh! At NRC café you can have anything from breakfast to dinner, and there’s a good winebar, “het Eigendom”. Book a room at Hotel bazaar if you plan a visit! Other nice cafes are “l’Ouest” and “Boudewijn”.
- Shopping can be done throughout the center, but don’t forget to go to neighborhood “Oude noorden” and stroll along the Nieuwe Binnenweg just outside the center too.
3| Favorite traditions?
My boyfriend and I always go to the North Sea Jazz festival, which is held in Ahoy in the second weekend of July each year. It is not just Jazz music, but also different genres. Another festival we always attend is the International Film Festival Rotterdam, which is held annually at the end of January. A tradition in Rotterdam I have never been a part of yet is “Saint Pancake”. On the 29th of November you should bake pancakes for as many people as you like, and every time someone new arrives, everyone greets them with a pancake on their head ☺ Another culinary tradition you could have- not saying you should- is a Kapsalon. It is to be had at all Döner places. It is döner, French fries, melted cheese, salad and garlic sauce all in one dish. 2000 calories for the taking!
4| What is your favorite culinary dish, native of the Netherlands?
Well, you can’t go to The Netherlands without having had “Stamppot”, which is mashed potatoes with veggies (for example cale, endives, beetroot, cabbage), served with gravy and a smoked sausage, a “rookworst”. NOMG I love it. “Het Eethuisje van delfshaven” is a tiny restaurant (I believe it is in the Lonely Planet) where a nice Rotterdam lady will make you Dutch traditional dishes, bring a healthy appetite! You can get take-away stamppot at “De Rotterdamse Kookpot”.
5| What are places you recommend to visit?
- Climb the Euromast and see all of Rotterdam on a clear day.
- Cruise the Rotterdam harbor with Speedo and see the pretty Erasmusbridge, lovingly nicknamed “the Swan”.
- Go see old Delfshaven, it is all 19th century cuteness.
- Have a day left? Take the train to Delft, it is a nice old Dutch town, prettier than crowded Amsterdam.
- See the new Central Station, it rocks! And have a burger at Ellis while you’re at it.
- See the Cube Houses near Blaak station and enjoy a drink in the Oude Haven, the old harbor.
- Do what the Dutch do: rent a bike and see all of Rotterdam! Also available with a guide if you’re scared. There are just so many bikes in the city!