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Rotterdam: Cool Jazz, Stunning Architecture

© By Adam Southwood
  Jazz Festival, Rotterdam With a population of 600,000 but 1.3 million inhabitants forming its metropolitan area, Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands behind Amsterdam. The amazing port is the largest in Europe, from 1962 to 2004, the world's busiest but then superseded by Shanghai.
     Attacking the harbour, the formidable German Luftwaffe destroyed the core of the city but City Hall survived the bombing. Unlike other European cities, Rotterdam did not try to rebuild what was lost. Instead, they welcomed the opportunity to innovate. With an energetic "can do" attitude, challenging new styles were employed to construct apartments, office buildings and recreational facilities, creating a brilliant skyline.
     Like most cities in The Netherlands, Rotterdam is bicycle-friendly and it's the fastest way to travel within the city with separate bike lanes on most major streets. There are outlets near Central Station for rentals.
     Nightlife in Rotterdam is varied. The "Oude Haven" close to the "Kubuswoningen" and the main market square "Blaak" is the preferred business type hang out. Cafés and restaurants in the Oude Haven or Old Harbour are located around the scenic harbour. The Jazz Cafe Dizzy is a great spot for beer and live jazz music. And speaking of jazz, check out the North Sea Jazz Festival, a three-day weekend of round-the-clock venues and world-class performers, the largest annual gathering in Europe, covering blues, fusion, gospel and soul. Legends Sarah Vaughn and Count Basie performed here. Rotterdam acquired the festival from The Hague in 2006 and has never looked back.

Erasmusbrug Bridge  Euromast  Festival Dancing  Festival Time  Party Time 

     In the summer, there's a small city beach along the river at the Boompjes quay, metro station Leuvehaven. Otherwise, the closest beach is a short train ride (32 min) away at Hoek van Holland, trains leaving every half hour. There are enough museums and galleries to keep one going for days, but here are a few other recommended outings:
  • The new area around the train station, Blaak, destroyed by German bombing during World War II but reconstructed with unique and fascinating buildings, especially the Cube Houses. A market is held here each Tuesday, Saturday (year around) and every Sunday (in the summer). "Old Harbour" is close by for a drink and bite to eat.
• De Delft Shipyard
• Delfshaven: a very scenic walk in a 17th century area around two canals.
• Euromast, Parkhaven 20: Open Mon.-Sun. 10:00 AM - 11.00 PM. Try the restaurant halfway up the tower; good food at a good price. Adult: €8.30; child 4-11: €5.40; child under 4: free entry.
• International Film Festival: Held at the end of January and one of the larger film festivals in Europe.
• The kuip (football stadium) of club Feyenoord. Rotterdam has three professional teams: Feyenoord, Sparta, and Excelsior. Feyenoord draws huge crowds.
• Maaslandkering: a storm surge barrier, is one of the largest moving structures in the world.
• The Snerttram is a historical tram that runs on weekends with a 90-minute guided tour of Rotterdam, most in Dutch, but some in English if requested.
• Spido harbour trip: You only see the first 8 km of the harbor starting at the Erasmus Bridge but there's plenty to see.

Harbour Cruise  Inner City Bridge  Harbour Cafe  Kees van Dongen, A Finger On Her Cheek  Museum Schieland 

Adam Southwood writes for Canadian, U.S. and European magazines and newspapers. He is a graduate of both McMaster University in Hamilton and UWO in London with an interest in culture and history. He has produced several educational programs for TV.

Nightime Rotterdam  Rotterdam Architecture  Spectacular Architecture  Stunning Architecture  World Trade Center 

Photo Credits
Courtesy Visit Holland

If you go
Rotterdam, Netherlands
as seen on
Visit Holland: http://ca.holland.com/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotterdam,_Netherlands
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Rotterdam

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