Cities, Countries, Netherlands, Netherlands., Rotterdam, Solo Travel Blog

Rotterdam, a home away from home (Part I)

This past weekend I did some travelling once more, this time to Rotterdam, and let me tell you, it was fantastic.

Right now I’m at a crossroad in my life, perhaps another post soon will explain it, but for now, let’s focus on Rotterdam.  But all I can say is that this city, that reminded me of both Lisbon and of New York, did wonders to my soul

Like most of my travels recently this one started on Arnhem central station, and from there the usual train hopping took place, from Arnhem to Breda, from Breda to Rotterdam.

IMG_3810 (Edited).JPGAnd my love to this city began right at the Station, as unlike the other Dutch cities this one had an urban and cosmopolitan vibe, a concrete jungle, like the one I got used to in Dubai. As unappealing as this sounds I love it. And in a classic Brandao move, I got lost as soon as I got there, perhaps I could blame it on the fact that was 10 pm or due to the fact that I’m a terrible planner, but luckily it didn’t take long until I found my way to “StayOk Hostel” located on a quite interesting street, Overblaak, where a couple of buildings seem to be askew, and as someone that was raised to appreciate design and architecture I quite liked it. But I left any explorations for the next day, as at this point I was a tad tired. Although it’s always kinda of a bad move to check in right before you go to bed, as most hostels ask you to make the bed as soon as you arrive, and making a bunker bed in the darkness while tired is not the best of experiences, but nonetheless I got done(ish).

Markthal-Rotterdam-visualLittle did I knew (again awful planner) that most of what I intended to see was right outside of the hostel’s door. mainly the Markthal, a building that not only houses a market but several residential floors and if I’m not mistaken som offices as well. An impressive building in an arch that has two gigantic glass panels from both sides, giving it a unique light inside. There was an infinitude of cafes and small restaurants inside, and two of them made quite the impact, one was a coffee stand, well a Tea stand, that had well over IMG_383130 variety of teas to choose from, as well as the some Starbucks like concoctions (matcha lattes and tea frappuccinos), the other was a Portuguese stand, that had a bit of everything I left back home, Pasteis de Nata, Bolas de Berlim (typical Portuguese pastries), Sumol, Compal, wines and even cold cuts, but my wallet was stronger than the nostalgic effect, as the prices were, for lack of a better description, a highway robbery waiting to happen. Right outside of the Markthal there was a huge …. well market, with stands that stretched for the better part of a full kilometre, so as you can imagine my Saturday morning was mainly looking into Bric-à-brac and fresh vegetables.IMG_3815

After that I started doing what I love the most, wander around, little did I imagine that I would end up walking more than 20 kilometres that day, and at this point, I had barely reached the 5-kilometre mark.

IMG_3850The next destination was the picturesque Skyscraper Red Apple, another heavily designed building with an interesting format and a curious red metal frame, that eventually gave the name to the building itself. Well from this point until mid afternoon I pretty much did nothing but walk around.
From The Red Apple to the Willemsbrug bridge, in a route that led me into the Noordereiland neighbourhood, a quiet quaint area that unlike to the rest of what I’ve had seen until now, was a bit more…well… Dutch, a lot of red bricked small buildings.

IMG_3855.JPGYeah, I know, as far as a travel blog entry this part of the journey was a bit lacklustre, but then again, it is my way of doing things. By this point, I was getting pretty hungry, and my feet begged for a break, so I stopped for a brief while. My stay at the quaint “Bagels and Beans” took a lot longer than I initially predicted, but it gave me time to chat up with my mother and to update my Instagram with some new photographs (got to get them likes).

IMG_3870.JPGBut soon enough I was up and running again, and ready to cross more bridges, first De Hef, an old Railway style bridge, wich style remind me of the old “Lucky Luke” comics that I’ve read as a child, mostly because of the heavy beams and the late 1800 design. This lead me to the last and perhaps the biggest bridge in Rotterdam (well scratch that, it is actually the second biggest, being only outshined by the Van Brienenoordbrug bridge), the Erasmusbrug.
This impressive bridge not only carries the name of one of the city heroes, Desiderius Erasmus a.k.a. Erasmus of Rotterdam, but also made me feel like I was back in my hometown, in Lisbon. It was only after a bit of research that I managed to figure out why, the architectural style was reminiscent of a contemporary bridge, the Ponte Vasco da Gama. Both designed and built in the late 90’s and both serving as the city’s second bridge and eventually ended up being the main city …. wow never expected to write a piece about bridges before.
IMG_3886.JPGBut midway through the bridge, my good old reliable iPhone decided to stop working, making me miss the opportunity to take any photographs on top of the structure. But I wasn’t going to let this spoil my mood…ok it kinda did, but luckily by the time I reached the opposite margin (pressing any combination of buttons I could), it was reborn, just in time for me to take as many pics as I could of the maritime museum.

IMG_3892.JPGEven though I did not enter the museum itself, I walked around the public areas, wich was …. impressive, just seeing the old boat workshops, and all those cranes, an old-timey lighthouse, was quite the experience, and in a way, it kinda appealed to the “steampunker” in me. I lost track of time, in both a figurative and a literal way, as my mind wandered to times of yonder, and well…everything was so astonishingly beautiful that I had no other choice.
As for the rest of Saturday, little else could be said, as I just walked back to the market area, and wandered a bit more, taking in as much as I could.

And well I will keep this post as it is because I want to keep Sunday for a second post. Yeah, i know…I shouldn’t, but ….. its my blog, ill do as I please nhanhanha (trying to write the sound little kids do when trying to be annoying).

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