TOP 5 FOR ROTTERDAM
- A visit to Fenix Food Factory – such a great vibe!
- Window (and real) shopping at the great variety of boutique shops
- A stroll over the Erasmus bridge
- A museum visit – take your pick
- Enjoy a local Dutch beer – never a bad idea
Yet another awesome Dutch city! Rotterdam is different from Amsterdam, Den Haag, and Delft, largely due to the fact it was almost entirely obliterated during World War II. As a result, modern-day Rotterdam is very. . . modern. Interesting architecture appears at every turn and little remains of the traditional canal houses. It also has a full-on hipster and alternative vibe. Cool coffee-shops, boutiques, second-hand stores, and street-side cafes are everywhere. They even show you how to cut your hair!
Hotwire, my trusty friend, bought us two nights in the Hampshire Hotel Savoy (claiming to be 4-star which is a lie). But at 112 euros for two nights/two people, there was nothing to complain about. We arrived very late on Friday evening, and walked literally two steps to Café Rubens, where our friendly waitress brought us the quintessential Dutch experience on a plate – Bitterballen and beers. We sat outside in the rather hot and sticky air and enjoyed being out of a car.
The next morning, after a good sleep-in, we walked along Pannekoekstraat, packed with cute shops and cafes, and eventually made it to Spirit, a restaurant with a highly-reviewed vegetarian buffet. We both filled our plates from the beautiful selection – and discovered that pricing by weight is a dangerous beast.
After brunch, we began perusing the shops littering the streets, and managed to find ourselves a few souvenirs. We continued walking through the city centre and happened upon, of all things, a “Dog Parade”. Which entails dog owners and their dressed-up dogs congregating within a couple blocks and. . . hanging out. I told you Rotterdam was modern and forward-thinking! We observed the strange scene and they continued winding a slow path to the Museum park area, along the river bank, and over the Erasmus Bridge.
Our target was to make it to “Fenix Food Factory”, which is a collection of shops, breweries, street stalls, and a great complex in general for hanging out and having some refreshments or snacks. However, the longer we walked the more industrial-looking the streets became, and we feared we had taken a wrong turn. We gave up and stopped in at “Posse”, a café which was the epitome of the design concept “reclaimed/upcycled”. We asked for some cold drinks, and if anybody knew where Fenix Food Factory was. Low and behold, it was next door. Ha. So we relaxed for a few minutes and then headed to our destination.
The Fenix Food Factory is just another example of the latest trend in “Warehouse Consumption”. These days the cool thing to do is sit on some cartons in an empty warehouse, sell your coffee/bread/beer, and do it all wearing an ironic T-shirt and tapping your feet to an undiscovered Indie band. Too cool for school. We wandered past a cider bar, bakery, cheese shop, charcuterie guy, brewery, and Thai street food cart, before settling on cheese, bread, and beer. The tables outside were already packed with customers enjoying the Saturday sunshine, so we parked our cheese board and beer sampler board on top of a keg (hipster version of a table) at Kaapse Brewers and settled in. The beers were fabulous and the selection of cheese was a good cross-section of varietals. My favorite was the Kaapse imperial red ale.
After a hot and walking-heavy day we took a little siesta back at the hotel, before venturing out to check out our neighbourhood for the evening. Recommended – Bar Admiralitet. The next morning, we headed straight for Memory Lane, an adorable little café we’d seen the previous day. Again, continuing with the minimalist and recycled theme of Rotterdam, this café was nothing more than mismatched tables and chairs, a TINY open kitchen consisting of a small stovetop, an oven meant for mice, and some cuttings boards. Dog-eared books in cases and old trinkets were artfully scattered around, and along with some photos on the walls this place manages to be very homey and inviting. And somehow, while we sipped coffee and ate a fabulous breakfast, we watched magical things come out of the little kitchen, including loaves of fresh baked bread, sandwiches, brunch plates, and numerous coffees and cakes. Amazing. The price was right too, and the coffee too good.
We spent another day wandering and window-shopping – clearly this weekend was not a time-crunched affair. Before heading back in our chariot to Germany, we found yet another totally surprising place – a Mexican street taco joint just down the street from Memory Lane. The perfect places for a snack before the long ride home.
Rotterdam was a wonderful and eclectic mix of culture, people, and architecture, and definitely a different spin on a typical Dutch city.