A Dutch Easter – Deel Een (Part 1)

While this isn’t my first Easter away from my family, it doesn’t get any easier to spend it away from the those who mean the most to you. Skyping home where a mini family reunion was being held was a bittersweet experience as I was so happy to be overseas in Europe, but at the same time sad because I wasn’t with my family. However I banished the blues by eating bulk chocolate and spending my Easter with my friend B who I was playing tour guide for, showing off my adopted country.

B flew in on Thursday evening and I met him at Rotterdam Centraal Station. We found our accommodation, The Grand Central Hotel and dropped our bags off before venturing out into the city of Rotterdam. I have been to Rotterdam only twice before and both times it was bypassing the city to go to Primark for a shopping expedition, so I was pretty unfamiliar with the place. We wandered around the centre of Rotterdam as the sun went down, going nowhere in particular. Before we knew it, it was 10pm at night and we hadn’t had dinner. Most places were closed for the night so we resorted to some McDonalds before heading back to our hotel.

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The next morning we woke and took serious advantage of the free breakfast. The weather was typically Dutch and the rain was sporadically dumping down, though we didn’t let that stop us from exploring. First stop was the Cube Houses which I had heard so much about, yet had not seen them. We grabbed a quick coffee and then walked a bit further towards the water where we could see the distinctive yellow buildings and unusual design. These pieces of innovative architecture were designed and constructed by architect Piet Blom. The concept revolved around ‘living as an urban roof’, or high density houses with sufficient space on the ground level. Blom had the idea to tilt the traditional cube of a house 45 degrees and have it rest on a hexagonal pole. As well as the unique design, this idea is supposed to represent an abstract forest, where each house represents a tree and when connected to its neighbour, they become a sea of trees in a yellow, manufactured forest. There are 38 cube houses in the area where residents subside. There is also a StayOkay hostel where you ca experience living in this unusually shaped buildings or if you aren’t staying the night – there is a ‘show cube’ where you can walk through and see the designs up close. I was impressed by the concept and the odd designs were very cool however I don’t think I could live in one. You have to watch your head all the time because of the slant in the roof and the stairs are rather narrow and steep. Not so ideal for a klutz like myself.

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We continued on from the Cube Houses down to the water where we saw the Erasmus Bridge. The 802-metre long bridge connects the northern and southern regions of Rotterdam. Much like a lot of Rotterdam’s architecture, it is  unique and well ahead of its time. The bridge has the nickname of ‘The Swan’ due to the 139-metre high asymmetrical pylon giving the bridge a somewhat graceful, swanlike appearance. We walked along, searching for the Waterbus to take us to the Kinderdijk however being Good Friday it was not running today so we resorted to catching a train and bus to the world famous UNESCO site. As we walked towards the train station we wandered through the streets of Rotterdam and I noticed it was filled with interesting art and graffiti and quirky shops and cafes. Rotterdam claims to be a ‘young, dynamic, international city with a passionately beating heart’ and while overall it looks like a big industrial city, as you delve further in, it becomes a very fascinating place to visit. 

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The Kinderdijk took about forty-five minutes to reach from Rotterdam, enough time for B to have a sneaky nap. The rain had stopped but the wind was blowing a gale, even more at the Kinderdijk where the 19 massive windmills where spinning furiously. We took the 4.50€ boat tour down the canal which was pleasant and full of photo opportunities. This took about half an hour and afterwards we walked down the path to the first lot of windmills so we could get a closer look. Most of the windmills are still in use and lived in by locals. It was a very pretty area and another thing to tick off the list, though the bitterly cold wind made for a brief trip as we jumped back on the bus to the train station for a our next journey to Amsterdam where we were staying for the next two nights.

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Stayed tuned for Amsterdam antics and living it up (literally) in The Hague Sky Tower.

J. x

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