Going Dutch – Rotterdam

When you tell someone that up you are going to go on a city break to Rotterdam there is a sizeable chance they will start thinking of that one song by The Beautiful South. I am still not sure if that song is ultimately insulting, but as of right now I am yet to find someone who is, as they put it, pickled.

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Rather, this is a really lovely place. After the disappointment of my first visit to Amsterdam this was an extremely welcome surprise. This won’t make much sense, then again what else is new, but this feels like if you cross a Toronto suburb with Copenhagen.

So basically a calm, lived in city with good history and interesting architecture. My husband is nodding as I pitch this to him, so I think this feeling is either mutual or it just makes sense.

Thanks to a rather nice flight from London City we were able make the most of our first afternoon here in Rotterdam.
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Our hotel was amazing. It’s called the CitizenM Rotterdam and it’s the most millennial hotel that I have ever encountered. Each room has an iPad that is used to control the room’s lights, curtains, thermostat, television and even colours of the lights in the bathroom. This hotel also has a cool sense of humour and I am very happy with this.

Anyway, enough room love. We decided to leisurely head for the Museum Park and this was where I started to enjoy the city. I think we were probably walking down some more middle class streets, but this just felt very calming. I think the falling autumn leaves may have made this feel ever so slightly magical.

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At the Museum Park hub led me to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen after we had a good nose around. There was something about the whale skeleton in the natural history museum that was calling me, but I digress.

I think that growing up in London and having visited places like the Uffizi and MoMA have given me ridiculously high expectations of what art I would see in a museum. Still, this was a really interesting visit for what is the 14th busiest museum in the Netherlands.

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On the unexpected side of things there were a few Picassos, a Warhol, two Kandinskys, some Monets and a Lichtenstein on display. Not major works by them, although I had seen one of the the Kandinsky paintings before, but still it’s interesting to see them in this setting.

Of course there were many a Dutch artist in this collection including a number of Van Gogh and Rembrandt paintings. Seeing how we are venturing to the Van Gogh museum in a few days I expect I am going to be seeing more famous things than what we’re on display here.

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Still, there were some paintings that I recognised and others that were possibly the most Dutch scenes ever put to canvas. There was also a rather interesting Fra Bartolommeo exhibition in the basement featuring many of his studies and sketches that were used to prepare for his paintings. Suddenly I find myself wishing to return to Florence so I can see his paintings in person and appreciate all the work that went into them.

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We left the museum as it closed and walked back to the hotel via the Markthal. It is as if someone had created a building and contents just for me. It’s like a food market, but everyday and in a glass building with a supermarket underneath and surrounded by restaurants. Apparently there are also flats in this building, I cannot think of a more perfect place to live… other than the completed mansion from Queen of Versailles.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 576/751
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Food item: Jambon D’Ardenne

In the supermarket underneath the Markthal we were able to procure a list food. Apparently is a this ham that you cannot find in the U.K. Is just in the supermarket here in Rotterdam. Not complaining, and it really did not break the bank at  nearly 2€.

When the packet opened I smelt a meat odour akin to joy. This is what ham is all about. A soft, smoked ham that helped give us hungry guys back our sanity (we had skipped lunch and that never bodes well).

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For dinner, hub said there was one dinner that he really wanted to do whilst we were over in the Netherlands. A Rijsttafel. If you haven’t heard of it don’t worry, I hadn’t until 3-4 years ago. Just think of it as a slightly epic set menu where you get to sample a wide range of Indonesian food.

Just look at this. Way too much food. I couldn’t finish my share of this, unlike hub who somehow finds space to pack all of it away. It’s a pity you can’t get proper Dutch satay sauce in the UK. I know that I could get a lot of this Rijsttafel in the UK, but not the proper satay sauce. So we always have to stock up on this.

So we have a night to sleep this off before we start on the main reason for coming to Rotterdam – the Kinderdijk windmills. Since this is November we are technically in off season, but I’m sure that won’t make too much difference other than the weather and less frequent waterbuses.

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