Rotterdam

Upon arriving at Schipol Airport I took the train to Rotterdam. I had arranged to stay with my cousin Geertien for the first night in the Netherlands. I found my way right to her house which is in the city proper. Oh how I love how easy it is to get around the Netherlands without a car! The flight was a red eye and so I was running on only a few hours of fitful sleep! I enjoyed breakfast with Geertien, cleaned up, did some research to decide what I wanted to see, and then Geertien generously offered to take me to see some of the places I had on my list. I also asked her to take me to one of her favourite neighbourhoods!

It was fun to experience Rotterdam by car. First we drove down to the center and visited the Markthal by MVRDV and then went to the Central Library across the street so that we could get a view of the square. I can’t decide what I think about the area. In one way I like it because it is an architectural laboratory of creativity and experimentation, but at the same time I wish that the designs were less alien and responded more to one another! Because each building is so self-focused, the space in between feels very accidental and without meaning. Next we walked to Timmerhuis that was designed by OMA. I thought this building responded well to the surroundings and has a form and facade that are beautiful but not overdone. Lastly we went to the Luchtsingel bridge that is an urban infrastructure project that was crowd-sourced and provides a backdoor access that connects three or four converging neighbourhoods while reinvigorating what was a more deserted, “sketchy” area. We met a man on the bridge who could tell we were tourists and wanted to know what we thought of the project. He used to work at the city and we learned from him that the project was quite controversial. From there we walked back to the car and Geertien brought us to the riverfront where we could get a good view of the Erasmusbrug. Beside it is another building by OMA called De Rotterdam. It is part of the redevelopment of the old harbour district on the southern side of the river. By then I was beginning to fade, but still wanted Geertien to bring me to one of her favourite neighbourhoods where a lot of Turkish immigrants live. It is a place where she has been engaged in community projects as a social worker, and she shared with me about a community project that was recently completed to transform an old church into much needed housing for Turkish girls in the community. I really liked the look and feel of the place, and think it is a great thing when a community takes it in their own hands to improve their neighbourhood.

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View of Central Rotterdam and the Markthal

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Timmerhuis

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Erasmusbrug and De Rotterdam

The following day I took the metro and wandered around Rotterdam on my own. I brought my bags with me and put them in a locker at Rotterdam Centraal so that after exploring I could head to my next destination that was my aunt’s place in Middelharnis. To get there I had to take the metro and then the bus. Again, I found my way to her house and as I walked up I could see Tante Els, Ron, and my Oma and Opa sitting down to dinner! It was wonderful to see them all again! Els informed me that she and Ron had something special in store for me the following day! We were going to try an activity called beach sailing!

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