Best Travel Photography in 2021
Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World's Most Amazing Places
The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World (Lonely Planet)
The Enthusiast's Guide to Travel Photography: 55 Photographic Principles You Need to Know
The Rainbow Atlas: A Guide to the WorldÂ’s 500 Most Colorful Places (Travel Photography Ideas and Inspiration, Bucket List Adventure Book)
Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Photography
Capturing the World: The Art and Practice of Travel Photography
The Bucket List: 1000 Adventures Big & Small
Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer's Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World
The Traveling Photographer: A Guide to Great Travel Photography
Animals in Action
Discover Rotterdam: A Vibrant and Fun City, Famous for Its Stunning Architecture
A popular travel magazine declared that Rotterdam is "hot, trendy, and fashionable," and "you shouldn't miss it." And, it's true! Do add it to your list of European cities to see!
Lately, the City of Rotterdam has been receiving much publicity, so much in fact, that an entity called Rotterdam Marketing (an organization dedicated to promoting tourism in Rotterdam), launched a campaign called: "Rotterdam the City of 2020 Architecture"!
Like Berlin, Rotterdam has several important museums, head-turning architecture (and a few shockers), many trendy bars, and exciting restaurants. And, unlike Berlin, Rotterdam's majority of the population speaks excellent English; so getting around won't pose much difficulty if you do not speak Dutch!
Getting to Rotterdam:
A business trip to Germany came up, so we took advantage of the situation and booked a short, side trip to the Netherlands. Of course, after reading that short article on the travel magazine, I was very curious about this super-modern city, whose 5-star hotels cost about the same as the 3-4 star hotels in Amsterdam. I booked a three-night weekend at the Westin Rotterdam (5-stars) for €99 per night, to include a buffet breakfast for two! Now, tell me? Where in Europe can you find such a sweet deal!?
To be honest, I've never been a big fan of Amsterdam, and always wanted to see other parts of Holland, such as Gouda, Delft and the famous windmills at Kinderdijk. So, on this trip, we completely skipped Amsterdam! We took the train from Schiphol Airport directly to Rotterdam, without having to change trains at the chaotic Centraal Station in Amsterdam; the train ticket cost under €25 per person. There are at least two trains per hour and we waited less than 20 minutes for our train. Rotterdam can also be reached by train, directly from Paris and Brussels.
About the city:
Rotterdam is thoroughly modern and you will not see the quaint Dutch houses and winding canals typical of other Dutch cities. Instead, in Rotterdam, expect to find striking, modern architecture, elegant malls, and the world's busiest harbor! It makes sense, therefore, that this city would have the best architecture firms and design museums, some of which could be considered the most progressive in the world! Rotterdam's architecture is awesome, amazing, although, not always beautiful! Sometimes you can't help yourself but stare at buildings, plazas and monuments in wonder...it's so different and stunning at times!!
Historically, Rotterdam was a living monument to the Netherlands' Golden age, until it was completed flattened by the Germans during WWII. Instead of rebuilding and recreating their city, the Rotterdammers decided to design an elegant, efficient, and modern city! The results were not all elegant, but the city is certainly efficient and certainly not dull! In fact, only two historical buildings survived the bombing (the Van Nelle Factory and Huis Sonneveld), and traces of other ancient buildings can be seen in the Old Harbor.
"Once Around Rotterdam" brochure:
Rotterdam Marketing has produced a brochure published in several languages, called in English "Once around Rotterdam." The brochure highlights all the important sights that can be seen within a two-hour walk. Obviously, in two hours all you can do is "walk past" the highlighted sights, but to really get a flavor of this city, you should really take the time, and stop and smell the roses, so to speak ! This brochure is an excellent reference and it's extremely reliable, as it has opening and closing times of museums, admission costs (if any), and other important information.
Spending a Long-Weekend (4-days) in Rotterdam:
Do you fancy museums? Well, lucky you! Right in the center of the city you will find three important museums: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen; the Architecture Institute, and the Kunsthal Art Museum. These three museums make up the core of art and design institutions in the city, although, there are other museums in the city, if time permits a visit.
Maritime Museum ~ Allow 2-3 hours
For lovers of all things maritime, this is the premier museum in the Netherlands. This venerable museum was created by Prince Hendrik in 1874 and it is dedicated to history of Rotterdam Harbor. Therefore, its location at the mouth of the Leuvehaven Harbor seems fitting! If you love maritime history, you'll truly enjoy time spent at this amazing museum!
The museum offers two distinct sections: the main building is dedicated to shipbuilding, models, steam engines, cranes and all sorts of nautical instruments. There you'll see the replica of the wooden figurehead of Erasmus, from the ship De Liefde (meaning "Love"), which was part of a fleet of five merchant ships that attempted to find the way to India and the Far East in 1598, and was the only one to return to its home country.
The entire half of the second floor belongs to children, and is called "Professor (Plons) Plunge". We did not spend time in this section, but we could see kids totally engrossed with the hands-on exhibits!
Another interesting portion of the museum, is the section dedicated to the history of cruise ships, namely the Holland-American Line, founded in 1873 as the Netherlands-America Steamship Company, which many of you will recognize the name of the company that ran regular trans-Atlantic service between the Netherlands and the United States, and later between the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies (namely Indonesia).
Inside the museum you'll find a souvenir shop, a maritime library, and a coffee shop.
Cost: €5,00 adults and €3,00 children aged 4-15
Museum is open year-round, hours: 10:00 - 19:00 hrs.
Sonneveld House ~ Allow one hour+ for touring the house and the grounds.
An excellent example of avant-garde architecture, this white villa from the 1930's does not disappoint. This house was incredibly modern for its time, featuring the latest gadgets in home comforts. Much of the interior and furniture has been restored and is one of the best-preserved houses from the "Nieuwe Bouwen" style (the Dutch branch of the International School of Modernism). Admission is free and you can get a free audio tour and explore the house by yourself. Only 15 people at a time are allowed in. This museum is only a 15-minute walk from or Rotterdam's Centraal Station. Worth a visit!
There is no shortage of ethnic foods in Rotterdam! In this city you'll find great Surinamese, Indian, Indonesian, Turkish, and Chinese food. Just take a walk to one of the local neighborhoods (in daylight, please, according to our hotel's Concierge) and enjoy, simple and inexpensive food. Ethnic cuisine is not your thing? You can find very nice, elegant, and traditional restaurants offering European or Dutch cuisine.
Are ultra-chic restaurants, offering fusion cuisine more your style? Well, gentle readers, you're in luck, as this is the city with the trendiest restaurants, with the hottest tables...and, if you can afford them, this is where you may want to be seen!
For low cost lunch and snacks, try the Millennium Tower, next to the Westin Hotel, offering a nice food court with several stands, selling awesome roast beef sandwiches and other Dutch favorite dishes.
Getting Around the City:
The city can easily be explored on foot, and so we walked to most attractions. If walking for long periods isn't your thing, then you can use taxis (inexpensive) or use the extensive public transportation network of buses, tram, and Metro. Buses are easy to use, as long as you know which bus number to take! Most maps listing the various sightseeing attractions will tell you which bus numbers to take. Also, be sure to carry a lot of coins, to pay, unless you buy an "all day pass" for about EUR5, 50, good for the buses and trams.
Day Two, Three and Four were set aside for visiting Delft and Gouda (both less than 20 minutes away by train), and Kinderdijk, which can be reached by a boat tour or by bus.
Rotterdam is the perfect location to stay in if you want to see the various smaller towns and attractions in South Holland. The city is vibrant, modern, and with a beat all its own!
The transportation system is flawless whether you're traveling by rail, bus, or boat. In fact, we were able to take the last train from Rotterdam to Utrecht and then on to Duisburg, Germany, bypassing Amsterdam's hectic Centraal Station, which was a blessing! In slightly less than two hours, we reached our final destination in Germany!
The best part about Rotterdam? The low cost of everything, from hotel accommodations to dining out (as compared to Amsterdam, of course!), especially when many attractions are free or cost practically nothing! The Westin Hotel offers special weekend rates, at a fraction of their weekday rates!